Monday, 8 June 2009

New Era College row: The betrayal of DJZ, Pt 4

New Era College row: The betrayal of DJZ, Pt 4
Kua Kia Soong | Jun 3, 09 10:27am

This New Era College (NEC) controversy has another aspect which may be of interest to political scientists and sociologists. It has divided the old left movement in Malaysia. Now, ever since the end of the armed struggle by the Left in this country, they have put their efforts into the Chinese education movement.

Those who critically follow the developments in the Dong Zong and New Era College secretariats know what's going on. But there are others who unthinkingly consider Dong Jiao Zong as inviolate without questioning the actions of the leadership.

During the controversy, certain statements by certain former leftist leaders have created consternation among others on the Left. The article by Fangshan (published in Chinese by Merdeka Review on December 12, 2008) apologised for Yap and his cronies by arguing that this "new stage of development for Chinese education" involves compromising with the ruling coalition.

kua kia soong launch new book 230509 01.jpgThe glorious history of the Left in this country must not be smudged by such renegade or otherwise unthinking left who have chosen to take a reactionary position in this controversy. Yap himself has tried to make use of his "leftist" past and to try to influence the former lefties who have joined the Chinese education movement since their retirement from active politics.

We have also seen another so-called lefty and Chairman of the KL/Selangor Old Friends' or ex-detainees' Association sabotage NEC in his attempt to discredit me by saying that only one course had been approved by MQA (See Chapter 2). One of Yap's mercenary writers is also supposed to be a former lefty but has shown his true colours by employing a MCA lawyer to sue me for defamation.

There are other lefties who say they are "neutral". If they are neutral in this controversy, can they claim to be lefties? If they cannot make out the facts and see what's just and unjust, what's democratic and what is not, who's reactionary and who's progressive...can they still be considered lefties?

If these are lefties, then who needs rightists? They would like the status quo in Dong Jiao Zong (DJZ) to prevail but it is a status quo that allows Yap to execute his agenda, i.e. get rid of Bock and Kua and to hell with all the young people who want to leave DJZ. This reminds me of a South African song in the seventies:

"There are those who cry out for peace
But do not cry out for justice...
We want peace
But we also want justice!"

The real and democratic Left should instead be asking for the truth and the democratisation of the Chinese education movement. Asking our heads of departments to leave the Board meeting in the name of "legalism" and "professionalism" is right wing reactionary ideology.

Save the Chinese Education Movement

All that Yap can show for his three years as Dong Zong chairman is his successful purging of Bock and Kua from the secretariats of Dong Zong and New Era College. Instead of seizing the opportunities afforded by the March 8, 2008 general elections and learning from the vision of great leaders such as Lim Fong Seng to forge a more democratic society and a brighter future for mother tongue education, Yap has chosen instead to launch his putsch. This has sapped the energy and time of the whole community throughout much of 2008. Nor does his collusion with the MCA augur well for the erstwhile non-partisan and fiercely independent Malaysian Chinese education movement.

The Board's function is to help fund-raise and to plan the development of the college. They have failed and the college has faced a crisis of space toward the end of 2008 while the Board has been idle over the Sepang project since 2000. The momentum of development of the college has thus suffered.

Year 2009 sees the beginning of a movement to ‘Save the Chinese Education Movement'. We want leaders who are visionary, principled, who cannot be compromised by the ruling coalition, and who have an inclusive attitude to all who can contribute to the movement. Corrupt leaders and saboteurs of the movement will be toppled and be held to account.

Unless these unprincipled leaders are replaced, the Chinese education movement will not be able to attract the talented young activists we have seen since the Lim Fong Seng era. The vision of a unique and multi-lingual community-run university will not materialise and even the reputation of the Unified Examination Certificate will be in question ... It will be the beginning of the end of our erstwhile incomparable Malaysian Chinese education system, one of the largest community-run mother tongue education systems in the world.

Read Part One, Part Two, and Part Three

DR KUA KIA SOONG was the principal of New Era College (2000- 2008). He has also been opposition Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya (1990-95); political detainee under the ISA (1987-89) and academic adviser to Dong Jiao Zong (1983-85). He is the author of ‘May 13: Declassified Documents on the Malaysian Riots of 1969' and ‘New Era College Controversy: The Betrayal of Dong Jiao Zong'


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