Monday, March 20

Panache needed to ‘cure’ ailing Dong Zong


RECENTLY, there was a hot discussion in the Oriental Daily’s commentary section on whether Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) chairman Yap Sin Tian and his deputy Chow Siew Hon should or should not step down.

As the saying goes: “To be called on stage only takes an opportunity, but to step down takes wisdom.”

Now, it is indeed a test of wisdom for these two leading figures – dubbed the Dong Zong Duo – in the Chinese education movement.

Yap took over the helm from Quek Suan Hiang, the former chairman, in 2005. Then in 2007, Chow assumed the deputy’s seat.

In less than 10 years of their tenure in Dong Zong, Chinese education has been plunged in a mess – both externally as well as internally.

The ‘external mess’ refers to its monolingual education policy which has been blocked in every possible way.

Even so, where there’s unity among Chinese education groups, any adverse measures against Chinese education can be anticipated and averted.

The process maybe exhausting but we will not feel tired because developing and defending Chinese education is always challenging – and exhilarating.

But today, even when the ‘external mess’ has yet to be cleared, the ‘internal mess’ has already created much anxiety and worry among the Chinese community.

The ‘internal mess’ refers to the splitting of the Chinese education movement – in this instance Dong Zong. The consensus is that the crack is not due to ‘foreign invaders’, but Yap and Chow.

Renowned Chinese groups such as LLF Cultural Development Centre, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and Association of Graduates from Universities and Colleges of China have all delved into the root of the problem and opined that it is Yap and Chow’s ‘rampant working style’ which has shattered the prestige and status of Dong Zong in its 60-year service to the cause of Chinese education.

Some said Yap and Chow were re-elected in the last annual general meeting (AGM) due to a lack of opponents; and asked why not wait until the 2017 election to drop the incumbents?

Others were less scathing, saying it was due to the two’s leadership that the number of students attending private Chinese high schools has not only increased annually but the United Examination Certificate (UEC) has also gradually gained popularity.

Such claim has, of course, been disputed.

Dong Zong is a Chinese education group – not a private industry. Its emphasis is on the defence of Chinese education by a ‘united group of people’ – not  individual leaders. And its object is certainly not out to make enemies everywhere.

Although the Dong Zong Duo have been organising big rallies one after another, no actual results of their action are seen and definitely, there have been no follow-ups – a big disappointment to all their supporters.

The increasing number of private Chinese high school students and the rising popularity of the UEC are, in fact, due to the hard work of the Dong Zong Duo’s predecessors as well as efforts by private Chinese high schools staff committee comprising principals, teachers and school directors!

Crediting Yap and Chow for the current achievements is not only disrespectful to those low-profile hard-working individuals, but also denies them due recognition.

The Chinese community did expect much when Yap first took over the helm but now in less than 10 years, Chinese education groups are experiencing a serious split and the Chinese community are disappointed in Yap’s leadership.

If the Dong Zong Duo still think private Chinese high school committee boards are still backing them, and do not feel the need to step down, then what can be done?

That maybe a matter for conjecture right now, but what has become undeniably clear is that more than half of Dong Zong committee members as well as ordinary ones are voicing out that Yap and Chow “do not have the ability to lead the movement forward and must resign immediately to halt the sinking of Dong Zong”.

Most of the members agree the Duo have split Chinese education groups and cannot unite them. This is a real crisis as ultimately, such divisiveness can determine the fate of Chinese education in the country.

If you are sick, visit a doctor. If an organisation is sick, then a ‘cure’ must be found before it’s too late.  — (From Oriental Daily).