KUCHING, Sept 8: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing today declined to comment on Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s recent statement on the usage of English in national schools.
The deputy chief minister preferred the public to make their own judgment, instead.
“No, I don’t want to argue on the polemics and rhetoric on Chong’s statement,” he said. “Let the public read his statement and make their judgement on its credibility.”
Masing gave this reply when asked to comment on Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, who had come out in defence of the Education Ministry.
On Thursday, Chong said the national education policy had long upheld Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction in national schools.
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’s remarks contradicted his stance before the 14th general election, where he fought for English-medium schools in Sarawak to be revived.
The issue of English as a medium of instruction came to the fore when the Education Ministry said in a written reply to Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri that the use of English as the medium of instruction in national schools was against the Federal Constitution and the National Language Act 1963/67 and contravenes the letter and spirit of the Education Act 1996.
The reply also stated that 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.
The statement caused some Sarawakian politicians to condemn the federal government. Chong, being the Sarawak PH chairman, was then challenged to state his stand on the issue.
Article 152 (1) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that Bahasa Malaysia is the national language. Section 17 of the National Education Act 1996, on the other hand, states that Bahasa Malaysia must be the main medium of instruction in schools except in national-type schools, where the national language must be taught as a compulsory subject.
Meanwhile, when Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik was here yesterday, he was asked on this issue, but he evaded the question. — DayakDaily