KUCHING: United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong)’s power struggle has not affected the running of Chinese independent schools nor the annual United Entrance Certificate (UEC) examination due to its sound administration.
Dong Zong vice-president Temenggong Vincent Lau said Dong Zong, which was established in 1954, has a history of effective administration and proper management.
“That is why we never have problems like leakage of questions for our UEC examinations,” Lau, who was Sarawak United Association of Private School Management president, told The Borneo Post yesterday.
He lamented that Yap Sin Tian’s camp seemed bent on wanting to disrupt Dong Zong’s administration.
“We will try to prevent that from happening, and we will try to protect the independence of Dong Zong’s administration from the power struggle that is happening now.”
Giving an update on the problems besieging Dong Zong, Lau said the case was still at square one as conservative camp leader Yap had again brought to court the reformist group’s decision that was reached during its central committee (CC) meeting on Sunday.
On June 2, the High Court ordered Dong Zong to convene a meeting within two weeks to decide on two motions: resolve the existing executive committee and re-elect new members.
The High Court had also decided on a list of 25 CC members deemed eligible to attend the meeting.
Out of these 25 members, 13 are with the reformist camp and the rest are Yap’s supporters.
Lau explained that Dong Zong’s constitution does explicitly state there are 32 CC members (25 elected and seven appointed) and the quorum for a CC meeting is 17.
However, as the name list approved by the High Court involved only 25 members, the reformist camp believed 13, a simple majority, was enough to meet the quorum.
“There is no rule in our constitution that deals with this situation. So, we applied the general rule of our constitution, which stated that for any meeting, only a simple majority is needed.
“In this case, there were 13 of us out of the 25, so we continued with our meeting and decided on the two motions as stated by the High Court.”
Yap did not turn up for the CC meeting as he claimed he had a heart condition, so he sent deputy president Chow Siew Hon to represent him to chair the meeting.
The absence of all of Yap’s supporters, except Chow, was read as Yap’s intention to get the meeting aborted.
“Our meeting was supposed to start on 11am, but even before 11.30am, roughly at 11.16am, Chow already announced that as the number of members present was only 14, the meeting must be dismissed due to lack of quorum.
“After he left, we continued with our meeting because we believed we had the number.”
Lau said the Dong Zong leadership was made up of people from its 13 sub-branches across the country, including Sarawak United Association of Private School Management.
“Out of these 13 sub-branches, nine have lost confidence in Yap. He should just step down rather than putting up a fight and jeopardising the credibility and reputation of Dong Zong.”
On Sunday’s scuffle that happened before the meeting, Lau said he was not harmed because when some ‘prefects’ believed to be engaged by Yap’s camp tried to stop others from entering the meeting room, he (Lau) had backed off quickly and waited patiently outside.
“As I backed off instantly, I was not hurt in any way. Later, I was told that Chow was wounded during the tussle.”
On the future of Dong Zong, Lau said all that he wished for was for the crisis to end soon.
“We are responsible for the education of all the students of Chinese independent schools in Malaysia. We need to do the right thing for the sake of our students and children.”
Secretary general Poh Chin Chuan (reformist camp) told Oriental Daily that he would be submitting the new list of CC members elected during the meetings on June 10 and 14 to the court for decision on the new leadership.
Meanwhile, Chow told Oriental Daily that he had lodged a police report on the physical injuries he suffered during Sunday’s meeting together with reports of his medical examination.
Chow said he did not rule out pursuing criminal suits or a civil suit for his injuries.
He refuted claims that he was the director as well as the actor to the tussle, saying the incident happened in the meeting room and that all those present were not from his camp.
“If I want to stage a show, I must have supporters, or have media to witness the show then it is worth it. It will be stupid for me to stage a show with no newspaper personnel present,” Chow told Oriental Daily.
Chow deemed the unlawful meetings of the reformists on June 10 and June 14 held without quorum as contempt of court and declared both meetings null and void.
He said the court order did not state the number of legal members to be present though the reformist camp did request for reduction of quorum of 17 as stated in Dong Zong’s constitution.
Chow said the request was turned down by the court as the court could not change the constitution.
“By announcing that they have the quorum with 13 members is disregarding the court order. There is no law at all.”
Chow categorically denied that the quorum for CC meeting had ever been amended in the constitution.