Friday 25 November 2011

A message from a Chinese school graduate

The following is an e-mail I received this morning. I post it here for those who do not have the privilege of knowing anyone who had studied in a Chinese school to understand why those schools are close to the Chinese community's heart -  

I'm a chinese school graduate all the way from primary school to uni in taiwan. I'm now working for the gomen. Hopefully my experience can help to clear some misconceptions about chinese schools and their graduates.

1. Chinese school graduates are all chinese chauvinists or communists 

saying that is just like saying that all muslims are terrorists. Not true and not fair. 

2. Chinese schools (I'm talking about secondary education here, not primary) are rich

 - Not all chinese schools are rich just like not all chinese are rich and not all malays are poor.

And those rich schools are rich, not because the money falls from the sky or they inherit pots of gold from their ancestors. 

Do you know that chinese high schools are registered as non-profit organisations instead of schools? Meaning to say we have to find money to pay for all the opex and capex. The ministry of education doesn't pay for the opex of chinese schools, like how they take care of the national schools. See it this way - chinese schools are NGOs, fund raising is a all year round exercise, just like any other NGOs.  

When I was a student many many years ago, we had to help the school to raise funds to pay for the electricity bills, salary of the teachers etc. As students, we would usually go in groups and knock on every single door in town (sometime we will also go outstation), trying to sell the so call "golden brick", which was in fact just a gold colour wooden block, in order to raise some funds to sustain our schools.

The significance of the brick is that every household contributed to the building of the schools, so every brick used in the school actually represents the hard earned money of the contributors - who come from all walk of lives. 

If I remember correctly, each brick represents probably an amount of only RM1 to RM5. So if you contribute enough, you probably can have a classroom, a library or a building named after you. That's why you will always see names around in almost every corners of the chinese schools, for these people contributed to building the schools. 

This was how, brick by brick, chinese schools were built.

Let me present my mother as a typical example of such contributors. They are not hardcore chauvinist or fervent communist. They are just normal people who feel that chinese school are doing good for the community, so ought to be supported. 

My mom was not rich, just like most of the other contributors, most was not rich at all. She was a hawker selling Char Kuey Teow in a small municipal market in a small town in southern johor. The stall had been around for generations. She had on the wall full of thank-you plates from the chinese school because every year, without fail since my grandfather set up the stall decades ago, there would be a day when all business proceeds go to the school. In fact, you will find such thank-you plates all over the hawker centre because almost every stall would do the same, every year. Mind you, these are all small stalls and these people are definitely not rich. Yet they did it happily - I've never heard anyone ever complaint about having to donate money to the chinese schools.

What amazed me most is that some of the stall owners do not have children studying in chinese schools. Most of them sent their children to the so-called gomen schools because chinese schools are deemed as expensive elite education in the community. 

To go to chinese high school, parents had to pay about RM20 per month which was considered quite a big sum many years ago. I still remembered when I told my mom that I want to study in Chinese highschool instead of going to gomen secondary school, she just plainly reject me because our family just can't afford it (yet she donated to the school every year!!!). Eventually she let me go because I sat for the entrance examination and won a scholarship to study there - I didn't need to pay school fees for the next six years. 

If I may add, my mother didn't just donate to the chinese school, she also pay taxes , all the required bills and also donated to other NGOs including muslim orphanages. 

3. Chinese school graduates have poor command of bahasa / english

Not true, as not all chinese school graduates have poor command of language - just like not all malays are bad in maths.

I don't speak perfect english with an british accent and people always laugh at my bahasa and say that I'm cina bukit. But I never regret going to chinese school - I'm proud of being one actually - because of the education I received, I am able to have multiple language skills that allows me to communicate with different spectrum of communities in malaysia and of course, I always believe that being exposed in a variety of cultures and traditions make me see things in a more balanced and objective manner, which is a definitely a big plus.

4. Chinese schools destablelise the country and create fractions by segregating the children from young age

Selfish politicians are the main cause of all the above. Pls don't use chinese schools as scapegoat. One school system can't solve the problem if we don't fix the system to provide better quality education - then things will only be worse.

Ok, let's say you put in a one school system and eliminated the chinese school - but the quality of education still as bad, what will happen? Parents will send their kids to private or internationals schools, which is already happening now. So, fix the school system, good quality education will automatically attract the mass. If you were a parent, would you want to spend thousands sending your kids to private schools if the gomen education is just as good, and free! No you won't - only stupid chinese parents will do that to support their beloved chinese schools...


This is an addition - a video clip, for those who has never been to a Chinese school - just on teachers and students at Foon Yew 4, JB


  1. Wow!! Thanks for the frank info. Never thought of it that way.

  2. #1
    NOT Chinese school graduates are all chinese chauvinists or communists
    NOT Muslim are terrorist
    NOT all politicians are corrupt or useless as what the PR trying to Paint.... agree?

    since the chinese independence school decides to part away from the national education system, why are you expecting the fund from government? stop telling people you all are poor because the school is charging monthly fees. If you think you still cannot run the school with that, because something is wrong with the maths. Also, ask the marketing team in the chinese school, ask them what is the first selling point to the parents - "our cert is recognize by international" by saying seems like they trying to potrait that SPM is not recognize by international. in that case why we still have students study overseas? All the Uni required the students to submit their A-level or SPM results during registration.

    What is the percentage of students can write and communicate in English vs in Mandarin vs in Bahasa Malaysia?

    The moment you decide to part away from national education system, i believe already did so.

    I'm an ordinary chinese malaysian staying in KL. Stop telling me that Chinese independence school is NOT about money..... partial reason I'm not study there because my parent cannot afford the monthly school fees. I'm study in SRJK(C) and I think is good enough as for now.

    I don't write mandarin well but at least able to communicate. I don't write Bahasa Malaysia much as I already working in the industry but I can still communicate with my Malay customers and friends in BM (at least more than ordering food from Mamak). I regret that I don't have a good foundation of English due to the schooling system in SRJK(C) that doesn't emphasize enough of English as primary language.

    Ordinary Malaysia living in KL

  3. Ah Ah Ah Kau,
    Such an arrogant and insulting response may reflect on the education dished out at the type of school you attended.

  4. Dear BigCat,

    1. Let me first clarify that I wrote that e-mail to you not because I am an opposition or umno supporter. I wrote it because I want to share my experience as someone who had attended a chinese school.
    I admit that my view may somewhat bias to some but that's probably due to my cina bukit background.

    2. Chinese schools started not expecting any funds from gomen. Still is, I guess. But just like any other well managed NGOs, u attract people to contribute due to the good cause you champion for. So when the gomen want to allocate fund (in form of donation), there's no reason for cina schools to reject it.
    And don't be too sensitive - by saying that unifi certs are recognized worldwide (except in Malaysia I guess) - we are not undermining SPM. When I was in high school, we studied six days a week - morning sessions were for unified syllabus and afternoon we would have tuition classes focusing on SRP and SPM exams.
    Most of the time on Sunday, either we have extra curriculum or I would be dead beat tired.

    3. What is the percentage of students who can write and communicate in english vs mandarin vs bm?
    Would he/she also like to compare the percentage of students (in gomen school ) who can write and communicate in eng vs bm? Let's not even put in mandarin in this case.

    4. I never said chinese schools are poor, but they definitely are not rich as like some dirty politicians (be them from PR or BN). Please understand that the chinese schools are always prudent with spending, that's the reason why they can come on such a long way, because they are careful with the money contributed to them.

    5.As of parting ways from the national education system, this is not a decision anybody made or decide - this is a cultural legacy. Chinese education system has exist in the peninsular before the formation of this country. So, to suddenly abolish it, is simply unjust to those who cherished it.

  5. "Let me present my mother as a typical example of such contributors. They are not hardcore chauvinist or fervent communist. They are just normal people who feel that chinese school are DOING GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY, so ought to be supported".

    I Wonder... which community? terorist?

    Should be only one community. MALAYSIA.

  6. I still believe that MoE shud standardised all schools in Malaysia to be under 1School. Mandarin and Tamil language can be taught as elective subject. At least the non-Mandarin and non-Tamil background can learn the language as an added knowledge. If need be or if there is demands, 1School can add other languages e.g. Murut, Iban, Kadazan, Sikh etc as elective.

    1School (1Sekolah) must be able to
    1) assimilate all races to be a Malaysian race 2) knowledge-driven and knowledge-centric
    3) understand that Bahasa Melayu as national language
    4) greater emphasis on English language as medium of communication

    We must mould our younger generation to co-exist, practise unity, to be able to see thru ethnic background.

    I strongly believe that if the above is implemented and will not get flip-flop even there is a change in the leadership, 1Malaysia will be achieved more rapidly.


  7. big cat, thank for putting up this view . It is always good to hear the opposing view to the 1 school system.
    There was an idea of putting group of school, national Type and venacular school together sharing some comman facilities was put up before by Tun M .
    What happen to it?. why was it rejected?. It look like an idea that will meeet half way for both parties.

    just my two sen worth

  8. Dear Orang Lereh,
    Thanks for your rationale comment.
    Honestly, I also prefer such a school system, but the racial reality of this country would not allow us to force others to agree to that.
    We can argue on technical points and insult the other side all we want but the legacy of our multicultural background does not allow any government of the day to close down those Chinese schools.
    Just imagine if Muhyiddin suddenly make an announcement tomorrow morning that the Chinese school system is to be abolish - I can guarantee that BN will fall in the next general election.
    The same will happen to the Pakatan people if they tried to do so.
    We can try to be brave and push with this campaign, but bravery alone will not win the battle. We need to have the brain and patience too.

  9. Dear Bob Villa,
    In my opinion, the not so impressive outcome of the Sekolah Wawasan idea was due to the failure of political will and poor implementation.
    Its failure also strengthen my conviction that you can't have a short-cut for the integration of races in this country. Forcing others into agreeing with us is simply not the Malaysian way.
    The Chinese educationists saw this failure coming and refused to fully cooperate.
    That is why, I am of the opinion that if we want to ask others to be with us, we must first convince them that we are good.
    If we want to have a single school system, we must improve the national school system to a higher level than the Chinese schools. Only then we can talk to the Chinese educationists about merging the school system.
    If we can't even take care of what we already have, there is no way we can convince others that we have a better solution for all.

  10. Singapore do away with venacular schools. Majority of their population is the chinese. You can't politicize education. That's why although my children go to the government public school, I claim that they are bome schooled. Because they don't learn much from their teachers who became teachers because they're not able to find employment. Teaching is the profession of 'last resort'. Teachers in Malaysian schools are either always on maternity leave (they produce like rabbits), go for various kursus but never improve and classes are left to 'guru sandaran' where some of this guru sandaran are students who are waiting for their SPM results. That's also why parents are forced to send their children for umpteen tuition classes and teachers spend more time on their side income as tuition teachers at home or at various tuition centres.

    I am blesses because my children has initiatives by self studying most of their lessons and they will ask specific questions in areas that they are not sure of. I myself teach them English and BM. I told them that they have to work hard because there's no way for them to gain JPA or MARA scholarship although they're bumiputera due to the competitiveness.

    Now my eldest daughter is in her 3rd year studying in Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar receiving full scholarship from Qatar Foundation. She's also on the Dean's List and working as a Teaching Assistant for Statistics

  11. From the article: "Selfish politicians are the main cause of all the above. Pls don't use chinese schools as scapegoat. One school system can't solve the problem if we don't fix the system to provide better quality education - then things will only be worse."

    Selfish politician? Explain. If I were the selfish politician, there won't be any vernacular school. Even the land of the free (usa) do not allow such school.

    2. "One school system can't solve the problem if we don't fix the system to provide better quality education"

    Typical chinese giving excuse that the national schools have no quality.

    I am no terrorist but you are not Malaysian. Your mind still stuck in china.

    I regret sending 2 of my kids to chinese school. Their brother and sister (national school educated) graduated with good grades and now working with multinational company, while both the chinese educated were still struggling from bad chinese school education. I'll be lucky if they can pass spm.

    Instead of charging fees and spending donation money from the money making business (gain from largely malay customers) on the vernacular school and unqualified teachers, why not help the poor chinese community directly. I did. There are many poor chinese, though not as many as Malay.


  12. Ssseeessh!! Sometimes I really wonder why we border speaking out anymore. Helen Ang's support of vernacular schools is very sound. If we can find a better "replacement" like equal opportunities, full integration, fairness in the education system (like Singapore - meritocracy or Thailand - one national Thai identity), them we sould get rid of these vernacular schools.

    First Helen Ang's (which is so Pro-Establishment)approach - proficent use of Bahasa Malaysia in her blog proves that non-Malays have attempted and sucessfully learned & mastered the national language.

    Second, Kolej TAR was not recognised for years as a full university while "Mat Salleh" or Latuk2 colleges were immediately given recognition as university status. (Sidenote: At least University TAR doesn't simply take in China Dolls, Vietnam Dolls, Africans for commercial purposes).

    My ex-colleague said that his children's school headmistress did not allow a class to learn Tamil unless more than 10 students enrolled based on education dept's policies. Common!! We have stamp club, photography club, boy's scouts etc they only had 6 interested students but cannot.... I told him to enrol a few Chinese students to make up the numbers!! If we can beat the system, we need to circumvent it!!

    By the way, I'm married to a "ser-pur-ser" (the outdated term English educated people's slur used on the Chinese educated) and she ISN'T A COMMUNIST!!! Hahaha

    Tok Rojak

  13. All parties can debate with all the ingenious arguments.

    There will be no right or wrong nor winners or losers.

    We have to give and take. No one party can be selfish as we all live in the same house.

    The most important question one can ask is that is this V school good to the population as a whole?
    How can it contribute well to the country in all totality?
    Does it indirectly promote racial divide by isolating the younger generations in their formative years?

    THINK. Are there any other ways to educate the chinese children their cultures or mother tonque without sacrificing the racial divide and harmony hence long term loss?
    In what way will the Chinese lose if these V schools were to be merged with the standard retained?

    Is this all because of politics?
    When I was a primary school kid, I had a Chinese and Indian best friend. My kids do not have the opportunity to rub shoulders with Chinese and Indians kids as they go to a majority Malay-based school. The Chinese "parents" have sent their kids to chinese school since they all can very well afford it.

  14. Something about which all guardians stress is the way they can get the best instruction for their youngsters. Whether a youngster will have an effective profession or not depends to a great extent on tutoring. Muslim guardians generally search for a muslim school for their kids. Such schools charge nominal or no fee for education of Muslim children. These schools are running with Islamic donation.