A 2nd look at 1Sekolah

Khoo Kay Peng is probably one of the many who have blogged about their reservations about the 1Sekolah idea. His second posting on this issue can be found HERE.

Like myself, he did not go through vernacular education, and as a result, like myself, he is more fluent in the Malay language than in Mandarin.

There are a couple of points that I’d like to quote from his post:

A language is just a tool to help us communicate and understand each other. It is not a social glue which helps to bind us together. Examples are aplenty of societies speaking the same language but still trying to kill each other in battles and conflicts.


I was envious of my friends who were educated in vernacular primary schools. Almost 98 percent of these students continue their education in national secondary schools. Most of the vernacular schools provide an opportunity for students to learn three languages at least. Some of my friends, very successful ones, are conversant in more than two languages including their mother tongue which gave them a headstart in the huge Chinese speaking markets.

I would like to say that I think these are very valid points.

Language, in the end, IS just a tool to help us communicate and understand each other better. But it is also my contention that without this tool, whatever else that needs repairing cannot be carried out.

Language itself is not magic. Like Khoo rightly points out, it doesn’t miraculously bring people together, and we can all live happily ever after. Having the people of Malaysia all speak the same language does not solve our problems.

But in my mind, it helps start mending some of the distrust that is so blatant in our society today. (It would also help if people started being more courteous and aware, by speaking in a common language when there are non-Chinese speaking people around. It’s not about being subservient. It’s just common courtesy.)


The second point that I’ve highlighted here is about the advantages that some students of vernacular schools have. Here, again, I believe that he is right. Being overseas, I have come across countless persons who envy Malaysians for their ability to speak in multiple languages.

All the more reason why I think that Malaysian students should be schooled under one roof, without the differentiation between national schools and vernacular schools.

Walski left a suggestion in my previous post, saying that national schools should also include language options. While all students would be taught the syllabus in both Malay and English (for selected subjects), it should also be made compulsory that students choose to learn another language. Be it Mandarin, Tamil, French etc. I think the Education Ministry would be well-advised to look into this as a serious possibility.

Looking at the entire issue without thinking of it racially, it cannot be denied that students who have been through vernacular schools have the advantage of being exposed to an additional language, when compared to those who go through national schools.

Why do we not give the same chance to those who go to national schools to pick up a third language?


The other point that most people make is about the difference in quality between vernacular and national schools.

I can speak only for the Chinese-medium schools, because I have had no exposure to anyone who came from Tamil-medium schools.

The difference in quality is there.

Of course, there are multiple good national schools out there. Otherwise, it would be a sad day for education in Malaysia. But in comparison, on an average, Chinese schools probably have better facilities, better school buildings, and to a certain extent, more dedicated teachers.

Most Chinese schools are better equipped, not because they are receiving more funds from the government, but because they still function like when they were operating without government funding. They still carry out fund-raising activities, they still get donations from the community (those who can afford it), and they use these resources to improve what they already have.

Chinese schools started as community projects, back in the early 1900s. The schools, which were then probably just singular classes with 20 students and one teacher, were set up by the community, for the community. They grew in size and number when the demand for such schools increased.

Chinese schools, till today, are still treated as part of the community.

In comparison, the few good national schools are overshadowed by the many more that are in shambles. Some have developed a certain undesirable image for themselves and, in the spirit of mankind that loves to stereotype, this paints black paint over the others that might otherwise be pristine white.


As a whole, I think the entire education system needs a rethinking. Our exam-oriented sytem, along with our biasness towards the Sciences, our discrimination of the Arts, the rigidness of the classroom, and other such issues need to be brought out and discussed in the open. And we need to be honest about the issues that plague us all.

As a dynamic society, there is a very real need to be constantly revising the policies and practices we have. Education is a very good place to start.


Post-script #1: Like I mentioned in my previous post, I may not agree with a lot that is written on Demi Negara. But the basic idea behind all the layers is that there should be one school for all. And that is what I support.

Post-script #2: I was able to find out about the history of Chinese schools in Malaysia through a book titled “The Chinese in Malaysia”, which is a book made up of different articles written by different people. The relevant section of the book was under the article: “Chinese Schools in Malaysia: A Case of Cultural Resilience”, by Tan Liok Ee.


12 Comments on “A 2nd look at 1Sekolah”

  1. Cyanide says:

    One school system for all? If it’s good we all benefit. If it’s bad we all die together. Looking at BN’s past record, we’ll all sooner die together.

    Education is a political football in this country. Think you can trust politicians with your children’s future?

  2. 007zain says:


    Re: communication tool, I don’t see any problem in Chinese/Indian students going to their respective classes of Mandarin or Tamil while the Malays attend to their Agama class — just like when there was a SRJK (Ing.) back then. Singapore (same syllabus as us during the British era last time) is still doing this up until now.

    I think it’s not necessary to make it compulsory to take additional language. It’s up to the student him/herself. & If there’s demand, I don’t see any issue for the school to have those additional language class/es on afternoons/Saturdays as with any other extra-curricular activities.

    Re: quality, I’m sure with money anything &/ everything can be made to turn out to be better as compared to the ones with less funding.

    It’s a Simple, Very Logical & a MUST DO for ANY Nation to NATURALLY & AUTOMATICALLY DO, in UNITING her Young Citizens!

    In Malaya as we approached our Merdeka, the One Schooling System had already been laid-out by the outstanding Tun Abdul Razak (he himself head boy/top student of his premier/quality school), when planning for our Merdeka Malaya in his Razak Plan/Penyata Razak 1956.


    • 007zain says:

      Btw, I support PPSMI. For one, it’ll get those hardcores who refuse to acknowledge/respect Bahasa Melayu as the Bahasa Kebangsaan an opportunity to have better English command. & Of course, to learn TOGETHER as One.

      “BERSEKUTU” BERTAMBAH MUTU/”UNITY” IS STRENGTH – no matter what race one is, as a citizen, Logically, one would naturally be willing to obey one’s own country’s Constitution.

      Cheers & God Speed!

  3. Dear Madam,

    These are kijangmas own words, taken from here:

    “Anyway, suffice to say that you and your kind are NOTHING. Just the dust, the debu that powders my feet, the habuk, the “duli” yang mencemarkan my tapak kaki.

    And nowadays these debus have the audacity to talk up to the Melayu Tuan Tanah on level terms, as if we are on par, makan sepinggan, duduk semeja, tidur sekatil. And these debus now even have the nerve to question the very symbols of our nationhood — the keris, songkok, jawi, … even fatwas! — on a land that MY ancestors forged through centuries of battles and conquests and where countless died defending against foreign invaders. And now these products of the unwashed rejects that rolled off the plank of the rickety tongkang now see it fit to question the fundamental tenets of this land that was created from the blood and sweat of MY ancestors?”

    This is just one of numerous such statements by kijangmas & his supporters. Are you really surprised that many Malaysians from all walks of life find kijangmas, his supporters & their project offensive & vile? I am surprised that your goodself, whom (after following your blog for some time) I had come to respect, have chosen to support them. Have you ever gone through the postings & comments in his blog?

    Personally, I do not believe that criminal action can or should be brought against kijangmas & his group. There is no law in Malaysia against racist hate speech or being kurang ajar; neither should there ever be, as it would infringe on their right to free speech. Indeed it is better that all Malaysians read for themselves & see this group for what they really are.

    Speaking for myself, I feel a deep sense of shame when I read the writings of kijangmas & his friends. I do not want him or his supporters to speak for me, my community or my country. I will happily support any effort to further genuine Malaysian integration & 1 school for all, but it must be done on the basis of equality, fairness & mutual respect for the cultures & contributions of all Malaysians, all of which are lacking in this particular project.

    • Michelle says:

      Dear Malaysian Heart

      Yes, I have previously read and gone through his blog, and also the many comments that crop up there. And yes, quite frankly, I do find most of his (assuming the writer is male) postings and his choice of words harsh and offensive.

      Having said that, I reiterate that my support is for the idea, and not necessarily everything else that is being roped in together with it. While I would admit that the wordings in the post and the petition itself could have been chosen more wisely and perhaps even brought down a notch or two in its “pedas”-ness, I have chosen not to focus on that, but instead trained my thoughts on the idea of having one school for all.

      I understand fully where you are coming from, and I also understand your reasons for withholding your support for this project. Perhaps if this project was launched about a year ago, I too would have rejected it based on the language used in the petition and in the blog itself.

      However, I think worthy ideas should not be thrown away simply because the proposer has a bad image, or the proposal is badly written. Good ideas should be recognised as such, and fine-tuned by having open discussions such as the ones that are happening around blogosphere at the moment.

      Like I have said, twice, I do not agree with everything that is written on the Demi Negara blog. What I support is the idea. I think having one school for all is a good proposal, and should be openly discussed by all those who care to. It takes someone to start in order for an idea to get going. In this case, the proposal has come from a blog that does not sit well with a lot of people. That I can appreciate. But the origins of an idea should not cloud the essence of it.

      Maybe, some time after this, a more moderate version of the petition for this project will emerge; one that many more will find agreeable. Be assured that then, too, it will have my support. Because what I support, is the idea.

      I hope I have made clear to you, and whoever else may be reading this comment, that I did not choose to support “them”, as you mentioned, but I have chosen to support their idea.

      I thank you for your comment and, though I do not feel that I have done much to earn anyone’s respect at the moment, I thank you for that too. I hope you will still be following this blog, and leaving your comments, as your views would be greatly appreciated.

    • 007zain says:


      I understand Malaysian Heart’s feeling & being a Malay, I can definitely understand kijangmas’ feelings.

      What I can suggest is if you (Malaysia Heart) could try to position yourself in his shoes — IMAGINE; & try to see what he sees — from his simple childhood (simple ‘cos generally, kampung life is simple), his grandparents, his kampungs (yes, we don’t know if he’s a kg guy or orang bandar – but, just IMAGINE he’s like a “standard” majority Malays here in Malaysia), his land/sawah/kebun buah2an/etc., pergi surau belajar mengaji/Quran, kena pukul sebab tak sembahyang, puasa, takut cikgu, raya, korban lembu, kenduri, etc.

      Simple. (yes, not like the kids nowadays who are mostly “spoilt brats”. Anyways…).
      Then, when he has grown up – masuk bandar, kerja (doesn’t matter MNCs or any Ah Kau’s co.). He discovered back-stabbings which is normal, I believe; BUT clear “racist” promotion – promote Cina sahaja even tho’ there are non-chinese who are better.

      Some of his family/friends bukak businesses & complained of discrimation against the Malays by the monopoly major suppliers (yes.. the Chinese, & ONLY Chinese – am not talking about some kampung-folk products like beras/minyak felda here!) – & many later on, somehow discovered that they had to pay higher than the chinese shops for the same goods.
      His kg-folk farmers are still working hard just to get by ‘cos their sales (to the “middleman” who have big huge lorries, & yes, are Chinese ONLY) are very cheap.

      Anyway, I think you can try to think & IMAGINE from HIS & many more Malay FOLKS’s perpectives…

      & then,
      From there… IMAGINE you’re in China or India or anywhere, say France. Do you think the Natives THERE would have problems with the Immigrants “CONTROLLING” almost all of their their day-to-days??

      And ALSO, “demanding” this-and-that, & MORE of this-and-that??

      Do you Think, & can HONESTLY say to yourself, that… IF, a Malay is doing that (Cntrolling, & for decades like some gangsters, the Economies) & Continue Demanding stuffs after just being a “citizen” for a little over 50 years in China OR India OR even France, the Chinese/Indian/French NATIVES There would or COULD allow or “SWALLOW” such DEMANDS???

      And. ON TOP OF THAT, Spreading Hatred Everywhere of the Malays (WORLDWIDE!… – internet, blogs, forums, & what-have-yous.), DEMEANING the Country, DEMEANING the Malay’s ways of life (religion/azan/tudung/praying, Sultans, adats, etc.);
      ie. the VERY PEOPLE who were VERY Gracious & Very HUMBLE Enough to even allow your “ancestors” to live & be EXTRA “merry” here on THEIR LAND when the British SUDDENLY brought them in shiploads – like the Indons/Banglas that many of “you” Yourselves Now DESPISED??

      – your “silent but PROUD” hero(????), that shallow narrow & HOLLOW Black-hearted namewee Negara CUCKOO.
      – or those LOWLIFE(Indian’s OWN word=pariah) hindraf (buddies of some Tamil Nadu “gangs”&Sri Lankan terrorists?!!?).


      So. Just STEP-BACK and try to see from the hearts and minds or the simple MALAY “Kampung FOLKS” as you like to call ’em..


      To Michelle, Thanks for WANTING to see & understand YOUR fellow citizens who are Natives of this literally called “MALAYLAND” (Tanah Melayu)!… Hehe.. yeah, just like THAILAND.

      So, if you (Malaysian Heart) could humbly see & feel for the Malays, insyaAllah, Malaysia could very well be HARMONIOUS again like before!…
      (ie. BEFORE S’pore came back into Malaysia & started to Kiasuly (as usual) & ARROGANTLY, questioned the Constitution & incited RACIAL Riots in 1964!! — just like what DAP, their “smaller brother”, has been “challenging” since the 1980s in the HOPE of getting SYMPATHY Votes, which I believe they had Succeeded with FLYING COLORS!!….)

      Lastly, if it’s hard to IMAGINE, just think as a human – as I believe that the sense of “owning” is NOT specific to the Malay race only….
      It is a HUMAN-“thingy”.
      So, just try to be an “Open, deep/sensitive, & POSITIVE” human/person.

      It helps one to be MATURE, & Openly Accept that this ONE small WORLD of Ours is actually inhabited by the SAME Mentality of humans back to the old-age Conquer & Own “culture”.

      Btw, for the Malays, it is our culture to Accept & Respect whoever visitors that come to our shores/home. There’re a few peribahasa that describes Malay’s Kind & Very Generous Hospitality, like:
      Kera di hutan di susukan,
      anak di rumah di ketepikan.

      & Malays being Muslims, have always/naturally treat everyone EQUALLY – doesn’t matter the Visitor is a Buruh Kuli/coolie or some matsalleh Admiral.

      I end this with speeches by Tun Tan Siew Sin & Tun Sambanthan on FACTS of the humble Malays:
      [ Yes, dap DON’T KNOW THESE ‘cos they were NON-EXISTENT!! – that’s why they’re IGNORANT!! or “BODOH SOMBONG” as we Malays say it, literally means, STUPIDLY ARROGANT!
      – maybe dap was being “prepared” and THUS, busy in the jungles (hutan AND concrete) some communists & some learning to be EXTREME-kiasus? WAllahu’alam.]

      MCA President, Tun Tan Siew Sin, in an article in a local paper entitled – “Tun Tan Answers Critics on Special Privileges” on 30 April 1969, said:

      “The Malays, through UMNO, were generous enough to relax the citizenship laws of this country to such extent that within 12 months of independence, 90 percent who were still non-citizens after nearly 100 years of colonial rule in the Malay States, obtained their citizenship. In return for this major concession, the MCA and the MIC agreed to continue the policy of preserving the special position of the Malays while at the same time upholding the legitimate interest of other communities.”

      Speech by MIC President, Tun V.T. Sambanthan in the Parliament on 1 June 1965:

      “Now, in 1955 we won the elections with a great majority. Then we obtained freedom in two years time. During this period, we had to discuss citizenship and various other things. Now what did the Malays do – since we are speaking on racial lines – what did the Malay leadership do? They had 88 percent of the electorate still with them. What did they do with citizenship. If we look around in Asia and East Asia, particularly, you will find that my race the Indian race, is not welcomed in Ceylon, is not welcomed in Burma. Look at my brother Chinese race, it is not welcomed in Thailand, in Vietnam, in Cambodia, in all the other areas. What help do they get for citizenship in all these territories? In Burma, as we know, Indian have been send packing, in Ceylon they refused them citizenship and in Burma it is likewise. I know it, you know it. And yet in Malaya what happened? Here we found that the Malay leadership said, “We shall take them unto ourselves as brothers, we shall give them full opportunity to live in this country, we shall give them every opportunity to become citizens.” And so, in 1957, for the whole year, we waived language qualifications, and tens of thousand of Indians, Chinese, Ceylonese and others became citizens. As I said, it has been my great good fortune to have born in this country. Where else can you find a more charitable, a more polite, a more decent race than Malay race? Where else can you get such politically decent treatment for any immigrant race? Where else in the history of the world? I ask you. These are the facts. Who are you to safeguards us? I am 10 percent minority race here. But I am happy here.”

      PEACE! Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu.

      • BrightEyes says:

        Zain, do you know how hypocritical you are? You blame the DAP & the opposition for inciting racial hatred yet you keep refering to the non-Malays in your postings as immigrants. Can you see how hypocritical that is?

      • 007zain says:

        Hello BrightEyes,

        Glad you see/can now relate that that’s how the MAJORITY sees DAP and their SYMPATHISERS in “Blaming” everything & anything on the Malays in general (& referring them as UMNOputeras?).

        The Fact of the matter is, the majority Chinese & Indians here are those that got their Jus Soli. That is why I think, it is very hard for the majority of you (DAP supporters AND esp. its Sympathisers), could not comprehend/find it beyond you guys; to appreciate Malaysia as it is… with it’s Centuries-old humble, bertolak-ansur, hormat tetamu, beradat, simple, etc.; way of life of its local people.

        … &, to then graciously accept & acknowledge what had been said by the moderate Chinese & Indian Malaysians Before you – such as Tun Tan Siew Sin & Tun Sambanthan above.

        Don’t you want to be Moderate like the Malays in general here in Malaysia?
        you are simply those Extremists, like Dr. Mahathir said in his latest article “The Extremists” at chedet.co.cc:

        ” 4. It is a miracle that this multi-racial country has remained stable and peaceful for so long. If the extremists can have their way we would all be at each others’ throats. We would be demonstrating in the streets and at the airports. If we do not accede to the wishes of the extremists then we cannot even make a living, there will be no investments and no jobs for the workers.

        5. Today we are grappling with the problem of education. We have three streams and woe betide anyone who suggests that we should not have them. We talk of liberal society, of free speech, but if you express some commonsensical views you would be labelled racist.”

        Lastly, if one were to look at Human as ONE race,
        (realizing that it is the individual’s Own self actualization towards his/her own country – & not of others imposed upon him/her);
        one would clearly see who the hypocrites really are towards this little Country.


  4. aiyomanaboleh says:

    “Walski left a suggestion in my previous post, saying that national schools should also include language options. While all students would be taught the syllabus in both Malay and English (for selected subjects), it should also be made compulsory that students choose to learn another language. Be it Mandarin, Tamil, French etc. I think the Education Ministry would be well-advised to look into this as a serious possibility.”

    There already exist such provision in the school system but the implementation of is “tin kosong”. You have the previous education minister and his deputy saying that they will recruit language teachers from overseas to fill the vacancies but everything is “tin kosong”. Only lip service, no political will. I am speaking from my own experience not hearsay. That’s what we get with irresponsible people running the show.

    Lately, I read a foreign country is looking to us for guidance in teaching maths and science in english. I hope our government succeed in helping this foreign country, it only re affirm my suspicion and others that there has always been a racial agenda in not implementing the POL classes.

  5. Gadfly says:

    Malaysian Heart has a valid point.Hate speech or hate crime should be seen in a wider context and all the implications. It may mutate into malignant aggression. This is why even today in Germany it is an offence to wear things like Hitler’s badges. A nation that prides itself of great civilisation still find Holocust incomphrensible to them. They initially assumed that Mein Kemf was the stupid rabling of a sick mind. They were terribly wrong. They know now the limits of freedom of speech.

    Further reading: http://www.genocidewatch.org/8stages.htm

  6. While the SSUS memorandum claims to promote unity & integration, it does more than just propose a single school stream. It contains some very disturbing premises & key elements, just 2 of which are:

    a) that it seeks to institutionalize intolerance against the so-called “foreign” cultures & languages of some Malaysians, by proposing that these be ghettoized, i.e. set apart from & denied its role in the public life of Malaysia, and
    b) that it espouses assimilation rather than integration.

    Neither of the 2 elements above is in any way necessary for true integration & unity. On the contrary, they will work against “comradeship and goodwill for us tiny rakyat”. Elements like these (as well as the intolerant language used in the memorandum) hardly make for a “struggle of all Malaysians irrespective of their colour, origin, creed or breed”.

    Added to that is the attitude of some promoters of SSUS. While they are quite happy to repeat over and over again the professed objectives of the project and the fact that 1 school for all will promote integration, they seem to want to ignore the fact that Malaysians have concerns & reservations over some elements & aspects of the SSUS. There seems to be an effort to deem people with such concerns as unpatriotic or even racist; and to paint anyone who tries to delve below the surface of SSUS & its promoters (& tries to share it with others), as, a “provocateur with malice and hidden vicious agenda”. Why this unwillingness to address those concerns? Why this hurry to railroad the SSUS without due diligence & deliberation? If this idea is as good as you say it is, won’t it sail through scrutiny & criticism with colours flying?

    The originators of this memorandum seem to have been inspired by an old Thai policy of forced assimilation called “Ratthaniyom”. Read more here (http://malaysianheart.blogspot.com/2009/05/deminegaras-satu-sekolah-untuk-semua.html)

  7. Phoenixchoco says:

    One school is definitely good. Don’t we want to let our children mingle with others of different culture background?

    I studied in Malacca High School, yes it started out as a missionary school and English was the medium of instruction then. But during my time, in the late 80s the school had a Malaysian Language (“Bahasa Orang Malaysia”) this however didn’t stop parents from enrolling their children there because of the quality had still been preserved.

    We had almost 50% Malay students, 40% ethnic Chinese students, 8% ethnic Indians and 2% of Others. (from my loose observation). Until today my close friends come from varied cultures and I have got no problem with that.

    Remember, this was a National School I am talking about. The school still remains as it was and I am proud of that.

    Now, I see the task on enhancing and improving National Schools is shouldered by the Government namely UMNO, ALONE.

    Any effort to make the national schools better is always opposed by the other BN components namely MCA and MIC.

    Shouldn’t it, when we talk about improving the national school, the task should also be shouldered by the MCA and the MIC? They represent the Government as well, don’t they?

    Sadly this is not happening. You have one minister from UMNO and the deputy from MCA who will always oppose anything to do with enhancing the National Schools (well this at least I read in the newspapers). One is fighting for the national interest and the other one is fighting for the ethnic chinese’s interest!

    We can bla bla bla condemning about the quality, the facility, the imbalance composition of races among the teachers BUT WHAT DO WE DO AS MALAYSIANS TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

    Please think, when it comes to national interest’s assignment or task, this so-called ‘burden’ or task should and must be carried out by EVERYBODY of the nation regardless of race.

    Please do not just make complaints if we do not or cannot contribute (i am not talking about tax paying here) to the task of making national school the best choice for all Malaysians.


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