14 March 2023
Press statement by Wanita MCA Deputy Chairperson Tee Hooi Ling
Srikandi should leverage on AGM to call for reforms to reflect progress & salvage credibility rather than resorting to typical race-bait diversionary tactics
Srikandi Bersatu chairperson Dato’ Seri Rina Harun lacks an inclusive spirit, when, during her party’s annual general assembly (AGM) on 12 March 2023, she called for the closure of vernacular schools, and to retain only single stream schools.
Regrettably, politicians tend to resort to the typical sputter usually as a diversion tactic on any current issues that affect the image and credibility of their party or members, most notably, the party’s echelon. There are after all, ongoing arrests of and charges against several Bersatu top leaders in relation to the Jana Wibawa alleged corruption scandal.
Other “sensationalistic” topics which politicians may unfurl to divert attention include race, religion, nationalism, citizenship and gender.
Speaking of gender, as the former Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, and given the wide reach of the Bersatu AGM, Rina could have used this platform and its publicity to delve into current hot topics. For example, Srikandi’s views on citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to non-Malaysian spouses, or the government having approved proposals to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 and Evidence of Child Witness Act 2007 in relation to the addition of measures to protect children, establishing new categories of offences and compensation for victims.
On the cost of living and shrinking purchasing power which affect all layers of society, if Rina Harun had broached on Menu Rahmah in relation to the rising cost of essentials, or how Malaysia could tackle food security concerns in terms of land usage, or the revised Budget 2023, or using EPF savings as collateral for loans and others, she would have connected with the common person struggling to eke a living.
On education, rather than exploiting vernacular schools as the convenient scapegoat, Rina could have highlighted on the need to improve the command of English among students and educators, whilst not neglecting Bahasa Malaysia as our official language, or to ensure children in deep rural interiors, especially the Orang Asli have the basic 3Rs.
By highlighting these issues, Srikandi could have scored points as thinking ahead for the betterment of the nation, instead of being enmeshed in race-bait parochialism.
Does Rina Harun even comprehend that Malaysia is a multicultural country? The Federal Constitution enshrines the right of all citizens to learn in their mother tongue language. It expressly declares that “no person shall be prohibited or prevented from teaching or learning, any other language.” Malaysia’s diversity, competitiveness are national features and a unique model for other countries to emulate in the international arena.
Unity in diversity gives an added advantage to our country. People from all ethnic communities should be encouraged to coexist peacefully and practise mutual respect. As public figures, politicians are urged to approach matters from a macro-perspective, and not seek divisiveness from a racial lens, as doing so is unhealthy, breeds distrust and regresses the nation.