Much has been debated about the vision school and the real controversy is that the Malays including Mahathir do not really understand the reason why the majority of Chinese is against the implementation of vision schools.
All of us accept that mingling of 3 major races in primary schools is important. We cannot live in a multiracial country where major races are like aliens to each other. There must be some common grounds of interaction and understanding, mutual respect and tolerance in order to ensure racial harmony and peace.
This basic principle, I believe, is agreed by every Malaysian but how do we achieve it? Is vision school the only way to achieve this?
The answer is no.
There is always this thought that when major races share the same compound as proposed in vision school, then there is some interaction and hopefully understanding. However, the Malay schools will be dominant by virtue of fact of a bigger enrolment of pupils. Since the civil service is dominated by one particular race, there is this fear among Chinese educationists that the Chinese primary schools will ultimately change in character. Hence, it all boils down to trust of the Chinese community towards the government in its implementation of mother tongue education.
While citizens have the right to pursue mother tongue education, it has never been a hustle free freedom to pursue your mother tongue education.
When it comes to actual Chinese primary school development, there’s a host of problem and this has created suspicion and mistrust that is the biggest tumbling block to the acceptance of vision school. It is not that the Chinese are against interaction with other races. We value racial integration just like any other races.
In any community, there will always be people with a very tunnel vision regarding race, religion, education and culture. You can find that in all community, be in Chinese, Malay or Indian. Hence, it is dangerous to stereotype and make sweeping conclusions.
If leaders take recognition that there is lack of trust and confidence, then leaders should take positive steps and policy implementations to show that the government of the day is fair to all races as far as the educational opportunities and development are concerned. It is not just through pronouncement and lip service. Every community must see and feel that the government care and that every citizen’s right as enshrined in the constitution are given full protection.
After 308 election, I do see the change of heart among some Malay leaders as to mother tongue education. Some good examples is:
1) The 1st and 2nd stimulus package has given allocation to Chinese schools. This allocation is given directly to Chinese school board. To be fair, this was a decision made by the government before the 308 election. The result of the election could have hastened the implementation of this decision.
2) Relocation and building of new Chinese schools is to be bored by the government. 20 Chinese primary new schools of which 7 are new schools and 13 are relocated schools. This is a big change in the implementation of the construction and relocation of Chinese schools after the 308 election. Traditionally, this is borne by the Chinese community through contribution and partially only financed by the government.