English issue: 30 activists gather to protest

Rahmah Ghazali and Jimadie Shah Othman | Jan 31, 09 8:02pm
Only about 30 people, including several prominent nationalists, attended a gathering to protest against the teaching of Maths and Science in English in a Kuala Lumpur shopping complex today – a far cry from the anticipated 500.

MCPX

The gathering started at 2.45pm at the Sogo complex and was over in 15 minutes – confusing journalists who came to cover the event scheduled for 3pm.

But the event did not lose its significance with the presence of national laureate A Samad Said, other nationalists, educationists and local politicians.

The gathering was calm even as the crowd started to swell with curious shoppers going in and out of the complex.

gmp protest 310108 samad saidSamad Said declined to speak to reporters at the event but he proudly held a placard which read  “Jangan bunuh bahasa ibunda” (Don’t kill our mother-tongue) to state his point.

Also present were poet Che Shamsuddin Othman or famously known as Dinsman, former Malay language professors Abdullah Hassan and Dr Shahrir Md Zain and also writer Ainon Mohd.

Renowned poet Pyanhabib, National Writers Association committee member Ibrahim Ghaffar and theatre activist Khalid Salleh were also there. So were politicians Batu MP Tian Chua, PKR Youth chief Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin and Federal Territory PAS Youth chief Kamaruzzaman Mohamad.

gmp protest 310108 crowdUnder the watchful eyes of 30 police officers, reporters and on-lookers were asked to disperse as soon as the gathering started because it did not ‘have any permit’.

The organisers also advised journalists and others to disperse as they wanted to have a discussion while sipping coffee in a restaurant in front of the shopping complex.

The gathering today was a soft launch for a mammoth rally that will be held on March 7 in front of Istana Negara where a memorandum will be submitted to the Agong in protest against the use of teaching Maths and Science in English in schools.

Tamil, Chinese reps also present

Malaysian Tamil Education Research and Development Foundation president K Uthayasoorian who came to the gathering also expressed his disappointment over the policy which he said did not “benefit Indians in the country”.

gmp protest 310108 photo session“Only some people who use English as their first language agreed with this policy,” he said, claiming that not only students but teachers as well were not prepared to adapt to the new method.

Meanwhile, Dong Zhong representative Chan Tuck Loong lashed out at the government for “ignoring the people’s voice”.

“Dong Zhong has printed out more than 100,000 postcards to the government for the past year but nothing has happened,” he said

For theatre activist Khalid, many language activists turned up at such a gathering for the first time today even though the teaching of Maths and Science in English has been introduced for the past seven years.

“It is because we are all getting desperate over this issue,” he said, adding that “not only are we losing our language but also our Malay rights”.

“When we look at our identity cards, they do not state our race, but our nationality. But how long has Malaysia been in existence? 51 years. But Malay and its language have existed hundred of years before that,” he stressed.

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