“BM has been the main medium of instruction in national schools for ages”

Chong (third from right) discussing with Giant Hypermarket management on SST issues.

KUCHING, Sept 6: Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Chong Chieng Jen says the national education policy has long upheld Bahasa Malaysia (BM) as the main medium of instruction in national schools.

“All these years until now, the present situation is status quo with regards to BM as the main medium of instruction in national schools,” Chong said after visiting Giant Hypermarket, following the implementation of the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

On the other hand, he said there was nothing to prohibit other languages or mother tongues from being used in national-type schools and private schools.

Chong, who is also Stampin MP, was responding to Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri’s comment that the rights of Sarawak to use English as its official language alongside BM should not be questioned.

Nancy had said that the state had never passed any ordinance to restrict or terminate the use of English as its official language as provided for in the Cobbold Commission Report, Inter Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, and Article 161(3) of the Federal Constitution.

She said it was agreed in the Cobbold Commission Report that Malay is the national language and that both Malay and English are the official languages without any time limit for Sabah and Sarawak.

She was responding to an online portal write-up headlined “Ministry: Unlawful to use English as medium of instruction in schools”, where it was stated that the Education Ministry was against the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools as it violated Article 152(1) of the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act 1963/67, adding that contravened the letter and spirit of the Education Act 1996.

It was further reported that the Education Ministry, in a written parliamentary reply to Nancy, said to preserve and honour the supremacy of the constitution and the law, the ministry does not suggest that English be used as the medium of instruction in schools, including schools in Sarawak.

Chong said as a former minister-in-charge of legal matters in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nancy was only playing politics to make the education minister lose on either side.

“She was a law minister before. She understands and knows the law very well that BM was used a long time ago. For decades, all national schools in Malaysia have to use BM as the medium of instruction. There is no question about it because it is in the Act.

“But for private schools, including national-type Chinese or Tamil schools, it is a different matter. These are the policies we inherited from the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government, which we continued,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chong added that if the Sarawak government had accepted Pakatan Harapan’s earlier proposal to take over education autonomy in the state, the state would be able to have a separate education policy and be in a stronger position to influence education matters in the state.

“We proposed by giving the state government full autonomy of education policy and at the same time taking over all the expenses of education ministry.

“But that proposal was rejected by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. Sad to say, now the state has to be subjected to the national education policy and racial sentiments,” Chong lamented. — DayakDaily