PETALING JAYA: A PPBM Supreme Council member today urged Malaysians to drop the racial rhetoric over education issues and think about how to use education to unify Malaysians.
Tariq Ismail Mustafa also advised Education Minister Maszlee Malik to “reject being trapped in the racial game and advocate for a holistic national education policy for all walks of life”.
Tariq was commenting on the heated debate following Maszlee’s justification of the 90% intake of Bumiputeras for matriculation on the basis that Malays were not being employed by the private sector which often required knowledge of Mandarin.
Tariq said: “Ever since Maszlee took over the helm of the education ministry, he has courted countless controversies while being critiqued by a majority of people. Recently, his personal remarks have caused a barrage of criticism — some warranted and others not.
“The delivery of national policies should not be debated with racial tones, thus disturbing the unity of the people. When this happens, the people have the right to voice their opinion with rationality and maturity, and criticisms are expected to come.
“But what I am worried about now is the criticism and lambasting from certain groups who answer a racial issue with racial rhetoric from the opposite perspective.
“Emotions and feelings are answered with greater emotional discomfort, as if an emotional debate will solve real problems, whereas it only leads to more serious social disunity.”
He said everyone should be matured and see the “elephant in the room” —the fact that the national school system needs to be improved.
“We should debate how to foster national unity through education, rather than how to diverge society through education.
“Here, we have to conclude that there is a stigma about national schools, as if the quality of students from national schools is worse than other systems.”
Tariq said this perception was more evident among urban residents who felt “that their children are too good to be enrolled into national schools”.
“Our children should be educated not only to gain knowledge, but to apply universal and nationalistic values, as enshrined in the Rukunegara Malaysia, which is our ‘azimat’.
“Only through this educational concept can we advance the thinking of society as New Malaysia.”