Wee speaks out on UKM prof’s remarks on ‘unlawful’ gov’t-owned international schools

Richard Wee

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 26: The Management Board of Kuching Chung Hua Middle Schools No. 1, 3 and 4 chairman Datuk Richard Wee has called Professor Teo Kok Seong of University Kebangsaan Malaysia a “joker” following the latter’s remarks that government-owned international schools were against the law.

Teo was reported to have said that education came under the purview of the federal government and allowing state-owned international schools would go against the Education Act, which requires all government schools to use Bahasa Melayu as a medium of instruction.

“We are wasting time to comment about someone who is a joker. I think it is pointless to make a rebuttal to someone who is an extreme bigot.

“I have known him and read his comments. He has never been a supporter. In fact, he had always been against the government recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) (for Chinese independent schools in Malaysia).

“He felt that if the government accepted UEC, it would not be fair to those holding the STPM certificates and that the government allocation would be taken away from benefiting students going into local universities,” he said to DayakDaily when contacted today.

Wee was perplexed as to why the professor would tie “private and international” schools to public school when the former could be established as a non-profit or for-profit.

“The international school licence, approved by the Ministry of Education, is not difficult to get. But the point is, if I have the licence (to establish a private international school) and decide to give free education, it is my business which has nothing to do with others. How is it not legal?

“It is up to the school and management to come up with a strategic plan whether to charge a fee or to subsidise or to give it free. It is up to the investors with a vision and mission to provide quality education and perhaps make a profit as there is a market or demand for it,” he elaborated.

On Teo’s suggestion that the Sarawak government should import British teachers to improve command of English in the state instead of building five international schools, Wee pointed out that the state government would have done it ages ago if it was as simple as that.

“He (Teo) is oversimplifying the Malaysia education policy. The objective of the state government is far more than just strengthening the proficiency of English among our children.

“We want to mould generations of children who will be competitive, knowledgeable and of leadership quality with multifaceted capability for the future,” he said.

Wee, who is also Sarawak Federation of Chinese Associations president, emphasised that Sarawak government’s effort to try to enhance the education system in the state was welcomed not only by educators but also the people of Sarawak in general.

“We appreciate the fact that the state government is willing to invest in education in spite of the fact that education expenditure is the responsibility of the federal government.

“This effort is something, which in the long term, Sarawakians will feel proud of because education is the key to keep up with an evolving world,” he added.

Meanwhile, the state government will be building five state-owned private international secondary schools in Sarawak with the first facility at Mile 12 Jalan Kuching-Serian here expected to be operational by 2023.

The government also planned to begin construction of the schools in Sibu and Bintulu by early 2022 and in Miri and a second school in Kuching by mid-2022.

The schools will be using Cambridge’s International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) syllabus.—DayakDaily