New Year Speech by Chairman of Dong Zong Mr Tan Tai Kim

New Year Speech by Chairman of Dong Zong Mr Tan Tai Kim

January 1, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic, political unrest and rampant racial and religious extremism popping up over the past two years have contributed to the grave negative impact on our society. Dong Zong deeply believes through concerted efforts and united will, we will be able to safeguard our multi-cultural inherence and multi-stream schools as well as ensuring their continuous advancement and full play. With the flow of time and turn of the year, Dong Zong hereby wishes you all happiness in this new year ahead, and is looking forward to the ridding of distress and the ushering in of bright.

1.  Stringent Containment Measures of COVID-19 to Ensure Students’ Safety in School

Kindergartens, primary schools, junior and senior high schools alike were closed due to the raging pandemic and subsequently physical teaching were replaced by online teaching. Inevitably, new teaching model has to be adapted by teachers for students. Yet there are still ample rooms for improvement when practising online teaching as they are not as effective as physical classes and in the long run detrimental to psychological health. Ever since October 2021, students have resumed physical classes in batches; in the face of the pandemic, all parties should take stringent containment measures to ensure the health and safety of both teachers and students in face-to-face contacts.

2. Successful Holding of the UEC and the Publication of Results Expectable

Weighing further on the ongoing pandemic and the vaccination rate of the general public after having experienced two postponements of the holding of Junior and Senior UEC, Dong Zong had learned its lesson and took the initiative to consolidate communication and facilitation with all independent Chinese secondary schools (MICSS henceforth) which resulted in the successful holding of the UEC in 2021. Herewith, Dong Zong acknowledges all independent Chinese secondary Schools, parents and students for their compliance on this matter. Currently, the marking of the UEC papers is underway and results are expected to be published as scheduled. UEC holders can then apply for further studies in higher educational institutions either locally or abroad with their UEC results.

3. The Financial Distress of MICSSs under the Pandemic

Independent Chinese secondary schools are non-profit private educational institutions, they survived independently all these decades via fund-raising. The outbreak of COVID-19 has unpredictably stressed the MICSSs economically; some of them were even drawn to resort to their reserve with a near-25 percent MICSS students incapable of paying tuition fee nationwide. Luckily, many private sectors reached out with monetary donations which in actual fact partially relieved both the schools and students’ financial stress. Hopefully, the country’s economy will recover this year and the fund-raising efforts of MICSSs will be fruitful.

4. Fair Treatment towards all Streams of Schools for the Safeguard of Mother Tongue Education

Schools of different streams in the country have contributed tremendously in the nurture of polymaths in the country for its prosperity, advancement and social harmony. They actually enhance the multiplicity inherence of our society and are the valuable asset and strength for competition. Unfortunately, it is an undisputable fact that the government has been distributing educational resource unfairly. We believe, the government needs to cohere with the principle of equality in education by systemising the construction of all streams of schools, distributing appropriation equally, providing sufficient qualified teachers and other educational facilities, including the infrastructure of the internet. Additionally, the government should set up an independent education supervisory commission to supervise the MOE’s execution of public power for better governance in bid to uphold the development of schools of all streams.

Up to now, mother tongue education has been confronted with grave challenges as many unary extremists aspire to eliminate vernacular Chinese and Tamil primary schools from the country. Therefore, Dong Zong, together with ten other Chinese associations, has jointly raised the “Upholding of Constitutional spirit and Safeguard of Mother Tongue Education” campaign which mobilises Chinese communities and other ethnic societies to remind the government to stay firm on constitutional spirit, safeguard multi-stream education systems and realise the right of mother tongue education endowed. Over 3,000 association signatures have been received so far.

5. Clarification of Appropriation Doubts and Speedier Release of Educational Appropriation

Dong Zong had requested the government to clarify the doubts on Budget 2022 educational appropriation but to no avail. Despite the rise of educational development appropriation in Budget 2022, whether Catholic schools, national-type schools, MICSSs and three privately-run university colleges will be appropriated, the construction and relocation appropriation for vernacular Chinese primary schools reviewed and the electric and water as well as sewage bills of government-sponsored schools be settled by the government are unknown. We posit, the government needs to include this category of schools or institutions in the Budget for appropriation. Other than this, we also expect the government to reveal and clarify the whereabouts of the sum of RM20 million school development appropriation for vernacular Chinese primary schools as well as the progress of school construction project and use of the appropriation among others published in Budget 2020, including whether appropriation has been cancelled in this year’s school construction appropriation.

The MOE has recently fixed March of 2022 as the next school opening date. The government is told to tackle the school teacher shortage issue and release the educational appropriation announced in Budget 2022 so that the school concerned can have enough fund for administrative expenses and settle electric and water as well as sewage bills, not forgetting the promotion and maintenance of school facilities, enhancement of pandemic prevention to ensure the smooth operation of school administration and daily teaching