Education Ministry’s statement on English “nothing new”, says Chong

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, Sept 9: The Ministry of Education’s recent statement on the usage of English in national schools is just “a restatement” of the Education Act 1996 that was passed by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, said state Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

“That is nothing new. Under the previous government, similar statements were also made in Parliament. Such policies were implemented with the full support of the Sarawak BN government then,” said Chong in a statement in response to Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Hamzah’s recent statement on the use of Bahasa Melayu in national schools in Sarawak.

Chong said that was why the medium of instruction in all national schools was Bahasa Melayu.

“However, such a law is not applicable to Chinese, Tamil and private schools. Thus, the Education Ministry’s statement still confined only to national schools,” he added.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, reiterated that was also the reason why PH Sarawak proposed two options.

The first option was for autonomy in education, where the state government is to use the additional 15 per cent oil royalty to fund all expenditures for education in Sarawak, meaning the state could determine its own education policies.

Chong said this proposal was agreed to by the federal government but was rejected by the state government as the latter wanted the additional oil royalty for other uses.

The second option was for the state government to use a small portion of its RM31 billion reserves to set up private schools to teach in English while not charging students school fees.

“This proposal was also rejected by the state government”, he lamented.

Chong said the greatest hypocrisy now was Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state lawmakers condemning the Education Ministry’s statement.

“If the state government truly wanted to use English as the medium of instruction in schools in Sarawak, it can always adopt one of the two options suggested by PH Sarawak,” he said. — DayakDaily