PM: Right to learn mother tongue

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KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Razak has assured the Chinese that they need not worry about the future of vernacular schools as their rights are enshrined in the Federal Constitution, amid calls from Umno members to abolish such schools.

“Don’t worry about SJKC. The right to learn your mother tongue is already in the constitution and the country’s laws,” the prime minister said in his speech at MCA’s 61st annual general assembly yesterday.

“In return, we hope that the [students] of SJKC learn the national language. Can you do that? Don’t use the words ‘gua’ (Hokkien for “I”) and “lu” (Hokkien for “you”) any longer,” he quipped.

His announcement was met with thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the MCA delegates at the party headquarters in the capital.

Umno leaders have in recent days called for vernacular schools to be closed down, claiming these schools do not foster national unity.

Najib told the MCA delegates that the Chinese schools are already in the National Education Blueprint, and he had taken it into account when allocating the funds for the schools in the Budget 2015.

But he urged the Chinese community to improve their grasp of the Malay language, adding that the Malays, too, could study Mandarin.

“Speak like the MCA president. His entire speech was in Bahasa. Congratulations,” said Najib, referring to Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who had delivered his speech in Malay.

Najib said all must help one another and understand the constitution, the country’s roots, the social contract as well as the understanding achieved by their forefathers. Their spirit and principles are still relevant today, if we understand it. We will continue to have a very bright future for Malaysia and all of us. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 13, 2014.