By Zurairi AR
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― The Chinese community should embrace Bahasa Malaysia as it is the country’s national language, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this morning.
Speaking on Mandarin radio channel Melody FM, Najib also reassured listeners that Chinese education will be part of the exercise to improve quality of education under the National Education Blueprint.
Responding to demands by pressure group Dong Zong, the United Chinese School Committees Association, the premier reminded listeners that Malaysia has always recognised Chinese schools.
“We are the only country outside China which has got Chinese education as part of the national system,” he remarked.
“The people have taken this for granted.”
He also revealed that the Cabinet is looking into implementing an eight-point plan to address the shortage of teachers for Chinese vernacular schools, drawn from roundtable meetings involving various stakeholders including Dong Zong.
The implementation will be overseen by one of the two deputy ministers from the Education Ministry.
In March, Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zarkashi had branded Chinese educationists “racist” for demanding that only qualified Mandarin-speaking teachers be allowed to teach in Chinese vernacular schools.
The group accused the Education Ministry earlier this year of “deliberately” creating a dearth of trained Mandarin-speaking teachers as part of a larger conspiracy to re-engineer the identities of vernacular schools.
Dong Zong had last month submitted a memorandum on the matter to the prime minister.
Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz later stated that the demands were reasonable, but this view was dismissed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as “a personal one”.
In today’s talk show, Najib also revealed that the neighbourhood night patrols announced in Budget 2013 will be launched early this December.
Replying to a caller, the prime minister clarified that 1,000 police officers on motorcycles will be patrolling in pairs in select neighbourhoods, and that RM20 million was allocated for the programme.
During the #TanyaNajib event on YouTube earlier this month, Najib also told viewers that he was excited for the crime-fighting initiative as it was his idea.
Later in the radio programme, Najib, who is also finance minister, reiterated that only 1.7 million Malaysians out of 12 million workers were paying income tax.
In Budget 2013, Najib announced a 1 per cent tax cut for workers with taxable incomes of between RM2,500 and RM50,000. Analysts see the move as paving the way for the goods and services tax (GST) that the Najib administration has been weighing but was forced to delay due to fears of voter backlash.
Najib also insisted that middle class Malaysians do reap indirect benefits from government policies, through subsidies such as for RON95 petrol.
“Although we pay slightly more (for car purchases) initially, but because of the large amount of subsidies, you end up paying much less than your counterpart after five years of use,” he said.