Reflecting over Foon Yew charity run

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Oriental Daily

Oriental Daily

In the recent charity run to raise funds for Foon Yew High School, the original posters indicated that the co-organizers are Foon Yew High School, Barisan Nasional, Johor Baru City Council and Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association.

Later, it was explained that Foon Yew was only the co-organizer while the main organizer is the office of Johor Baru Member of Parliament and thus the Barisan logo was replaced by his office logo. Those with some basic reading skills would have easily noticed that this was an excuse.

Regardless, the appearance of Barisan logo had stirred up reactions from many students, parents and even alumni of the school. The main reason was that education should never be stained by politics and thus political parties should not get involved with Chinese independent high schools.

The two big issues are: should education get involved with politics and what is the hidden message behind the charity run? Chinese independent high schools are products of the Malaysian political environment as they refused to reform despite government pressure. There is nothing strange that they have to get involved with politics to survive. Foon Yew, for example, has to deal with politicians in the building of its branch campus.

However, this does not mean that politics can encroach upon Chinese independent highs schools in all aspects. It is of utmost importance for education institutions, whether it is a university, high school or primary school, to maintain academic integrity and freedom. It means rejecting political and religious elements in their teaching.

Although Chinese independent schools cannot avoid dealing with ruling and opposition politicians, the board of directors and administration staff can restrict such interactions within the limits of administration without affecting the teachers and students. Furthermore, even if a certain political party wants to help these Chinese independent schools, the use of party logo should be avoided as a show of independence.

However, as party politics has openly shown up in Foon Yew’s activities now, is Foon Yew still qualified to say that it is neutral and maintain its self-respect and not dependent on government aid? Can the board of directors, in particular, still claim that it has protected Foon Yew’s integrity and declare that it is the first non-reformed independent school?

A person’s self-respect lies in the principles of unbending and unwavering under any circumstance. Even though the burden for its second campus is heavy, Foon Yew is not so poor as to depend on an MP to raise funds. If Foon Yew gives up the idea of building a 12-storey school building, it would have enough money to build another campus. As such, what Foon Yew had done recently is a lesson in teaching the students the opposite of self-respect.

What then is the message behind the Foon Yew charity run?

First of all, Foon Yew is still lacking in political sensitivity. When Foon Yew celebrated its 100th anniversary, it came under attack by many alumni over its 1Malaysia stamp issue, but the board did not learn. Up till today, it still insists on going its own way, ignoring the views of many of its alumni members and Johor Baru people. Is it not setting a bad example for the students?

Even though the Barisan logo was later replaced by the logo of the office of Johor Baru MP, it nevertheless showed that south Johor, even the whole of Johor, is set to be the battleground for all parties in the coming election.

Previous reports showed that there would be a fierce fight for the Johor Baru, Tebrau and Pasir Gudang parliamentary seats in the coming election. As such, Foon Yew, which is located in Johor Baru and is symbolic of the Chinese community, has become the best target to get close to the Chinese. Before and after the last election, the Barisan central government and Johor state government have been generous in distributing their goodies, such as giving funds and allowing Foon Yew to build the second campus, which goes to show that Foon Yew has become the best channel to win Chinese votes.

Furthermore, the second campus will be located in the Pasir Gudang parliamentary constituency which includes the state constituency of the current Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled and also the Johor Jaya state constituency. MCA recently named Tan Cher Puk, a former board member of Foon Yew and currently an officer in charge of Chinese affairs in the Menteri Besar’s office as the candidate for Johor Jaya.

Therefore, even though the Foon Yew charity run used the logo of the Johor Baru MP’s office, and basing on the relations of Mohamed Khaled, Tan Cher Puk and Foon Yew, it could easily be imagined that they were the promoters of the event. They and Barisan can make use of the charity run as their contribution towards the Chinese community to win votes. However, their way of doing it would only make people more aware of the oppression against the Chinese community and the independent high schools, turning it counter-productive for Khaled, Tan and Barisan.

Sixty one years ago, Foon Yew board of directors rejected reformation and government subsidy in compliance with the aspirations of the people after a student rally. The board and the Chinese community told the people then what self-respect was. The Government had not been critical against Foon Yew’s decision.

However, the current board of Foon Yew has turned a deaf ear to public criticism and dismissed it with some excuses. There are also people in Barisan who smeared those with different views. Is it a modern trend or the digression of Foon Yew and Barisan?

Original Source: 宽中义跑事件的反思