KUALA LUMPUR: Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) must forget the past and look into improving the country's education system with the federal government, said Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said the issue must be looked at holistically, not politicised with sentiments.
"It has to be viewed in historical context before we arrive at an agreement.
"Chinese schools were new and didn't have a proper way forward when the education policy came into place," he said at Pekan Sungai Besi, yesterday.
Last week, Dong Zong deputy president Chow Siew Hong claimed the MCA had made a deal with the federal government in 1995 to remove Section 21(2) of the Education Act 1961 and limit the number of Chinese schools.
Section 21(2) of the Act stipulates that the education minister "may at any suitable time convert all national--type primary schools to national primary schools".
Muhyiddin said Dong Zong was raising this issue because the government had refused to set up an independent Chinese school in Kuantan.
Muhyiddin explained that the previous government had already conceded by allowing the establishment of independent, conforming Chinese schools that agreed to follow the education policy and have public examinations like the PMR and SPM.
"There were also other independent schools that did not want to conform to the policy and continued in Chinese.
"Usually, when they do not follow policy, they would not remain, but because they have already been there, they were allowed to continue on the understanding that the number would not increase," Muhyiddin said.
"If the Chinese independent schools want to move forward, they should become conforming schools like Jit Sing, Penang.
"I understand that the Chinese community is very concerned about the education issue and the Chinese language.
"That is why we have vernacular schools, which allow the community to learn their mother tongue," he said.