Her 'pride' at her PR status did not go down well with Malaysians.
Sometimes, politicians should keep their mouths firmly shut. Several senior politicians who have spoken somewhat prematurely have received the displeasure of the rakyat, for their foolishness. The MCA hierarchy should appreciate the axiom – that less is more.
Ng Yen Yen, the MCA vice-president, tried to justify her status as a Permanent Resident (PR) of Australia. Instead, she succeeded in making Malaysians and possibly Australians, more outraged.
The MCA chief Dr Chua Soi Lek failed to realise that people are more interested in policies, rather than people’s affairs. He thought he would be praised for “daring” to admit to his affair when he tried to discredit Lim Guan Eng, the DAP secretary-general. Instead he (Chua) was portrayed as a rabbit caught in the headlights of a car; perhaps a more apt description would have been, caught with his pants down.
Last week, Ng, who is also Tourism Minister, tried to clear her name after Lim had alluded to her, in the debate, dubbed “Debate 2.0”, with Chua.
Lim had made a pointed reference, without mentioning names, that not every Malaysian could get PR status in Australia. He had clearly alluded to Ng, who two decades earlier had sought and successfully obtained PR in Australia.
Stung by Lim’s remarks, Ng decided to give her version of events in a press conference, so that she would not be “misunderstood”. According to her, the PR was secured in the 1990s and that in 1995, on completion of her son’s education, she had renounced her right to abode.
Ng tried to appear altruistic: “I went to Australia for my son’s education. I am very proud of it [as] my son is a very successful lawyer. I have no regrets.”
Unfortunately, her explanation backfired. In trying to justify her action, the rakyat was disgusted by her behaviour. Her “pride” at her PR status did not go down well with Malaysians.
Chua is wrong
Sensing a growing discontent in the public, Chua thought he would smooth things over but instead caused further opprobrium for both him and Ng, when he tried to justify her actions by blaming Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim whose policies, he said, were responsible for many non-Malays being rejected from local universities.
He said, “She did this because when Anwar was education minister during this time, it was very restrictive to the non-Bumiputera.”
Records indicate that Chua is wrong. Sulaiman Daud, a former vice-president of Sarawak’s Parti Pesaka Bumiputera (PBB), served as the Education Minister from 1981 to 1984 and again from 1991 to 1995.
Chua reiterated Ng’s decision to apply for PR status: “She has said it very clearly – in this country, many people applied for PR status for the sake of education.”
Naturally, Chua failed to see the incongruity of Ng, a member of the Dewan Negara, holding Australian PR; the analogy of which could be of a married woman having a bit on the side.
Malaysians are appalled that Ng should apply for PR just so her son could benefit from free tuition in Australia. The act is dishonest and is akin to cheating.
Many Malaysians studied in Australia but they did not get PR simply to avoid paying the full fees.
For reasons known only to themselves, MCA prefers to keep mum on several discriminatory policies of BN. Instead of fighting for the rights of the Chinese, MCA Chinese just kowtow to their Umno masters.
Several points missed
Chua knows, but prefers not to say, that the discriminatory policies in education and other fields, started in the 1970s. If Chua were to consult the history books, the person appointed Education Minister in 1974 till 1978 was none other than Dr Mahathir Mohamad. He shaped many of the education policies which are carried through to this day, with even more intensity and ferocity.
Mahathir introduced the racial quota system for public university entry. His ministry had the power and authority to discipline students and academics who were politically active. English, as the medium of instruction in schools, was abolished.
While both Chua and Ng appear to be oblivious to Mahathir’s involvement, both freely admit that Umno’s policies forced many non-Malays to go abroad for their children’s education.
By virtue of the MCA membership, they are part of the ruling coalition. Both have enjoyed positions of seniority in the Cabinet and yet both failed to address the skewed and discriminatory policies in education.
What is the point of boasting about going abroad and seeking PR for free tuition, while the people they represent, struggle to give their children a decent education? If Ng, as a senior politician, failed to get help for her son’s education, then what chance has the ordinary Chinese who hope to pursue higher education in Malaysia?
Why is Ng serving the same government which discriminated against her?
What has she, and for that matter, her chief, Chua, done to overcome this discrimination, or overturn government policy concerning the education of the people?
Why have they not looked into the cost of private education, which is spiralling out of control and is just as expensive as overseas education?
Why did Chua choose to blame Anwar but not BN? No one man can create education policies on his own.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) helps to serve the educational needs of the Chinese community. Why then did Utar reject the philanthropist Koon Yew Yin’s offer of RM30 million to build hostels for its students? Is Utar another MCA money-making scheme?
Both Chua and Ng seemed to have missed several points when it comes to the needs of the Chinese in Malaysia.
Mariam Mokhtar is a FMT columnist.