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No Soul In The Heart Of Malaysia’s Education Ministry – OpEd

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Again, and again. Never-ending, useless race-religious debates and unsolved simple issues in Malaysian education. As if there is no political will in the heart and soul of the Ministry of Education. The vengeful approach by the Ministry shows that we still have unresolved matters, post-May 13.

We need to do the right thing now. Education need not be used by anyone in power to stage a soap opera. It is about the lives and potential of young minds, regardless of race, religion, colour, creed.

What we are hearing about education today is simply troubling. Education is being used as a weapon in a race and religious war. What kind of logic is that? Don’t we have Malay and Indian children learning Mandarin these days? Why doesn’t the Ministry of Education think of strategies to help all Malaysian children succeed? To dismantle all forms and stylisation of educational apartheid?

Regarding matriculation and knowledge of Mandarin as a job requirement, the Ministry of Education seems to be taking an illogical stand. While the prime minister is talking about the “One Belt Road,” and is in love with investment from China, the Ministry of Education, funded by taxpayers, is adopting an opposite stance. Why?

Why must educational issues be about DAP vs Umno vs PAS vs, etc? It should be about the future of Malaysians, the concern of parents.

May 13, 1969, erupted partly because of the failure of our education system. Do we want to see a repeat? Reconcile via truth. Defending Malay-Muslims with irrationalism will destroy the Malays as global citizens!

Grow up! May 13 was our violent growing up years. Today, we ought to be wiser.

Clearly, the Ministry of Education is continuing the old Umno agenda, leaving us with a wealth of chaos.

One can speak eloquently about Industry 4.0 this and that, coding skills for children and all, but ultimately what is needed is equality in the system. The child, regardless of race, needs to be nurtured to the fullest potential, not taught that if you are born of a certain race, you will get privileges by virtue of dubious arguments.

Education should not perpetuate “Ketuanan Melayu” anymore, any longer. We saw how 1MDB and Umno have destroyed us. Those who screamed and yelled for Malay rights also laundered a mad amount of money. Malays and non-Malays are both losers because we have this false racial and religious dichotomy used by politicians to hold on to power and wealth.

Only by harnessing and developing multicultural Malaysian talent can we be leaders, not through more racism! When the Ministry of Education talks about protecting rights, we have a failing institution. Malaysians voted for Pakatan Harapan for a better future for their children. What are they getting instead?

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission will need to teach about the May 13 incident, and the way forward. The wounds are still there. The debates about Malaysian education today should have been resolved after May 13, but apartheid reigns.

The Ministry of Education, under the Harapan regime, has found it politically profitable to recast old ideology, at the expense of humane philosophy true to the meaning of education and the right of every child to have one. Our nation will continue to be divided and segmented, through half-baked educational policy prioritising the needs of political parties.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Second Coming was to slowly open a Pandora Box of the complexities and chaos of Malaysian politics to come.

The next prime minister will have to confront issues of universal human rights versus religious bigotry. Most importantly, we need a prime minister who will have the sensitivity and political will to offer the best future for the children of all Malaysians. Fail in that task, and everyone, Malay and non-Malay, will be a loser.

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of seven books, namely Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia's 'New Politics' (2014), and One Malaysia under God, Bipolar (2015). Five of the books are available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a doctorate in International Education Development from Columbia University in the City of New York, and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. He currently teaches courses in Global Politics, Cross-Cultural Studies, and Sustainability, in the United States. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

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