THE polemics between the 25 Malay moderates and the so-called Malay-Muslim extremists is becoming more interesting, more open and more thought provoking with the latest salvo by a group of about 35 Malay-Muslims whose views very balanced, no holds barred and transparent as published in a local English daily.
The beauty about the polemics is that we have two divergent views drawn from eminent Malays who are learned people in their respective discipline. They are professionals in their own right and are not politicians. They do not have any hidden agenda or personal interest.
Their views is about what is good for the nation in order to move forward. Interestingly, the so-called docile Malays who are known for their budi bahasa and what the British called them as nature's gentlemen, unexpectedly speak their minds out in the open. It is like the rallying call of going against the British Malayan Union idea in reverse.
In response to the 25 moderate Malays, about 35 prominent Malay professionals wrote: “It is not religious extremism that is threatening the unity and stability of our nation but the growing ethnic gap in politics, economy, education and human habitat.”
The writers quoted International Islamic University Prof. Dr Noraini M Noor who said there has been a rise in polarisation between the Malays and Chinese in terms of education, job opportunities and housing.
She also said Malays tend to study in public/government universities where the language of instruction is Bahasa Malaysia while most Chinese study in the private sector.
We should ask ourselves why do the Chinese and some Malay elites choose to send their children to private schools instead of government schools?
In a democratic capitalist country, everyone is free to choose the school that is best for their children.
Why is it that when government schools was in the English medium and the Cambridge syllabus was used, we hardly hear anyone sending their children to private/international schools? In fact, vernacular schools was not popular then. Today, we have an increasing number of Malay children studying in Chinese schools. Why?
In the good old days, going to school means just that. The various races were able to intermingle with one another where calling names was never taken as a personal insult. The language of communication was English then for those who goes to English medium schools, albeit, broken English but enough to bind the the three races together to enjoy schooling.
Today, despite the good intention of the government to have national schools using the national language, we see that it inadvertently creates a rise in racial polarisation where the private schools have become a better option for those who can afford it. And private schools is mushrooming by the day.
When we have our own policy makers sending their children and grandchildren to private schools even at primary level, it really speak volumes of the national schools.
We now have two classes of citizens: the have's and the have not as a result of the education system which create the uneven level playing field. In the long run, is this good for the nation? Already the voice of moderates have reared its ugly head calling non-conformist as extremist.
It is good for the 35 prominent professional Malays to ask, “For Malaysia, the main question is how to find a solution at minimal cost and as quickly as possible, so as to create a level playing field which does not require particular policies of affirmative action on an ethnic basis.”
In this respect, I still believe that to create a level playing field and to be fair to all Malaysians, be they rich or poor, rural or urban, is to provide them an option of an English medium school using the Cambridge syllabus. With English, the future generation has the world of knowledge at his feet, not to mention it transcends racial lines for the good of Malaysia, which is unique in many ways due to historical accident.
Old timers who sat for the Senior Cambridge exam with some having Queen's English can vouch that they are no less patriotic and would not hesitate to take up arms to defend this beautiful country. Above all, they can be proud they enjoy reading all the finest books which unfortunately, the present generations are denied off due to an “uneven level playing field”.
Last but not least, instead of looking at the Oxford dictionary for the meaning of moderation, why not take a leaf from our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is a walking dictionary on moderation.
For the Malays, the best formula for them is to have an English education and balance off with a strong religious foundation. The English education is to open up his mind while the religious education is to balance him from being a free thinker, secularist, individualistic and materialistic.
Hassan Talib, Gombak, Selangor NST Home Opinon18 Jan 2015