Ramasamy accuses govt of dragging its feet on Chinese, Tamil education

GEORGE TOWN: A former senior DAP leader has accused the unity government of dragging its feet when it comes time to Chinese and Tamil education.

Former Penang chief minister II Dr P. Ramasamy today also said Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek was a "big disappointment" and questioned her being retained as a minister in the cabinet reshuffle.

Ramasamy said there were two incidents in Penang recently that showed how ineffective Fadhlina was as education minister.

He said a few months ago, at a Tamil language programme in Kepala Batas, Education Department officials had disallowed the use of "Kadavul Valthu" (religious song) and "Tamil Valthu" (song in praise of Tamil language).

These songs are sung in almost all Tamil-related programmes.

"Although Fadhlina apologised for the absence of these songs, I am not sure what action was taken against the Penang Education Department 'culprits' in their overzealous rejection of these songs.

"Lately, Fadhlina was invited as a guest to mark the opening ceremony of a new building at SJK (T) Subramaniam Brathee in Penang.

"It was unfortunate and unbecoming of Fadhlina as the education minister to refrain from giving a speech that was highly expected from parents and school officials.

"Even the song 'Tamil Valthu' was disallowed again by overzealous officials of the Education Department, but the intervention of the executive councillor in charge of Tamil schools allowed for the song.

"Fadhlina's brief appearance at the school made a mockery of the elaborate VIP preparations made to mark her arrival.

"Frankly speaking, Fadhlina has no time or concern for Tamil schools or Tamil education. She is the minister for the wrong reasons.

"The fundamental aspects of the educational system are not her concern, but (she's concerned about) peripheral matters that don't make much of an impact on transforming the system."

Ramasamy said two years ago, the Penang government had allocated 1.6ha for the building of a Tamil school in Sebarang Prai Utara.

He said the licence for the school was to be transferred from the SJK (T) Bednoch in Kulim, Kedah, which was closed down due to a lack of students.

"Can Fadhlina look into the transfer of the licence so that a new Tamil school can be built in Penang?

"Or is she, going on the basis of her past attitude to Tamil education, not even be bothered about expediting the transfer of the licence?

"It is well and good to engage in the idea of multicultural and multiracial education at the level of rhetoric, but when it comes to respecting Chinese and Tamil mother tongue education, the Madani government drags its feet."

Ramasamy said had campaigned for Fadhlina in the last general election.

He said without the support of Chinese and Indian voters, she would have lost to the Perikatan Nasional candidate.

"I will make sure that next time she stands for election, I will campaign against her."

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