'BN goodies for Chinese schools only?'

Athi Veeranggan | Feb 11, 08

An exasperated P Ramasamy, secretary of the DAP international affairs bureau, has questioned the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s ‘sudden’ allocation of RM4 million to 17 Chinese schools in Penang.
He has taken issue not just with the ruling coalition’s timing and sincerity, but also why the nation’s 500 Tamil schools are not recipients as well.
“If the BN is sincere, it will not allocate funds only before a general election, but (consistently throughout its tenure),” he said.
“Since the BN knows it will not secure Indian votes in bulk any longer, it has shifted its attention to other communities. This is a ‘money net’ to fish for Chinese votes.”
Ramasamy was speaking to Malaysiakini on a visit to the Batu Kawan Tamil school in Seberang Perai, Penang.
He said it is a shame the Tamil community still has to send out cries for help to upgrade dilapidated schools and to improve the quality of mother-tongue education.
The one-time academician stressed that access to education is a universal human right and a fundamental block in nation-building.
In this respect, desperation and disgruntlement over the physical infrastructure of schools should no longer be an issue after 50 years of independence, he pointed out.
“But embarrassingly it’s an issue in this country,” he said, also taking a swipe at the MIC and its president S.Samy Vellu for failing to secure government funds annually to upgrade Tamil schools.
Over the 29 years that Samy Vellu has been party president, said Ramasamy, the number of Tamil schools has taken a nosedive – from 1,500 to a mere 500 today, of which about 25 primary schools are located in Penang.
“This is Samy Vellu’s greatest contribution to the Indian (Malaysian) community. He talks arrogantly but has barely delivered anything worthwhile to the community,” claimed Ramasamy.
There is speculation that Ramasamy will contest Batu Kawan parliamentary seat in the upcoming general election. The seat is held by Huan Cheng Guan of BN component-party Gerakan, which also leads the Penang government.
‘Election tactic’
Penang DAP secretary Danny Law Heng Kiang, while welcoming the funds for Chinese schools, was equally curious about the timing and why the funds are only for selected schools.
There are 100 public Chinese schools in Penang, comprising 90 primary and 10 secondary schools, and all should receive funds annually, he said.
“This is a tactic to garner votes since the elections are around corner,” said Law.
Of the total sum, RM1 million will be a federal contribution to the Por Tay School project which is under construction, while the remaining schools will receive RM200,000 each.
The Por Tay School is being relocated from Bagan Jermal in the north-west of the island to Sungai Dua in the south-east, to fill the need for a Chinese secondary school. The community has already contributed half of the estimated RM30 million for project costs.
Law said that, since an existing school is being relocated, the government should have funded the project instead of allocating a token sum.
He also said the state government of Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon has failed to deliver its 1999 election promise to build a Chinese secondary school in the south-west of the island.
Por Tay has been catering for primary and secondary education needs, said Law, who described the relocation of the school as a denial of education opportunities for the children affected.
“The state government should have built a new school, instead of relocating the school. This amounts to deceiving the Chinese community,” he added.
Law is expected to contest the Batu Lanchang state seat in the polls.