KUALA LUMPUR, 2 Dec 2008: Kedah Gerakan Youth says the proposal to abolish vernacular schools is against the Federal Constitution which allows the teaching and learning of other languages besides Bahasa Malaysia.
The state youth chief Tan Keng Liang was responding to a suggestion by Umno Youth exco member Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
Mukhriz said yesterday that the only way to end racial polarisation was to end the vernacular school system and subject all children to a single school system.
The Jerlun Member of Parliament, who is also running for the Umno Youth chief post in the party elections in March, said pupils should instead be allowed to study their mother tongue under the single national school system.
Tan, while objecting to Mukhriz’s call to stop vernacular schools, said the Education Ministry should let pupils in government-funded national schools (sekolah kebangsaan) be given the chance to study other languages.
“We are strongly against the proposal to abolish vernacular schools in Malaysia as this is one of the rights of Malaysians under Article 152 of the Federal Constitution, where ‘no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using or from teaching or learning any other language’,” Tan said in a statement.
The teaching of mother tongue languages and foreign languages would equip youths for the future but the “preservation of Bahasa Malaysia as our national language should be the priority of national schools,” Tan added.
Mukhriz has been criticised by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat in his blog for using racial polemics because the Umno elections were coming.