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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A REMINDER TO KAJANG FOLKS

By Salleh Said Keruak

Operasi Lalang of 27th October 1987 saw the arrest of 106 persons under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the revoking of the publishing licenses of two dailies, The Star and the Sin Chew Jit Poh and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan.

According to the White Paper explaining the arrests, various groups had played up sensitive issues and thus created racial tension in the country regarding the Ministry of Education's appointments of some 100 senior assistants and principals to vernacular Chinese schools.

On 11th October 1987, a 2,000-strong gathering was held by the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (also known as Dong Jiao Zong) at the Hainanese Association building in Kuala Lumpur, which was joined by politicians from the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Gerakan and other Chinese-based parties.

Racially provocative speeches were made and the meeting resolved to call for a three-day boycott of Chinese schools if the government did not settle the appointments issue.

All this happened just a year after Anwar Ibrahim took over as the Minister of Education and until today he is remembered as the man who tried to break the backbone of Chinese education and assimilate Chinese schools into the mainstream national education. And that was one of the reasons the Chinese did not support Barisan Alternatif in the 1999 and 2004 general elections.

Kajang is viewed as the unofficial centre of Chinese education. The Chinese voters in Kajang would do well to remember that Anwar was never considered a friend of Chinese education as he now pretends to be.

When the controversy of the appointments in Chinese schools was raised in 1987, Anwar very stubbornly refused to change his stand. And this triggered protests even by the members of Barisan Nasional, which resulted in Operasi Lalang soon after that.

This matter was not only an opposition issue of concern. Even those in Barisan Nasional thought that Anwar was not only wrong but also very arrogant in the way he handled the issue. And today Anwar is trying to present himself as a friend of Chinese education. The Kajang voters need to seriously reflect on this.

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