by Nigel Aw
Minister in the Prime Minister Department Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz has brushed aside the claim by MCA leaders that his support for Dong Zong’s eight-point demand for Chinese education is mere diplomatic manoeuvring.
“Of course we have to be diplomatic, we are politicians – but not in the sense that I am a hypocrite.
“I did not just say that to play to the gallery, you know me, I am a man of integrity,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby this afternoon.
He was responding to Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong’s (left) statement this morning stating that Nazri was being diplomatic when he said Dong Zong’s demands werereasonable when accepting the organisation’s memorandum yesterday.
“About Nazri’s statement yesterday that he supported Dong Zong’s eight demands, I think it was only diplomatic language but I hope he as a senior minister, can cooperate with MCA or any Chinese-based party to get this done,” Wee said in the Parliament lobby this morning.
MCA president Chua Soi Lek in a statement today, was more scathing in his opinion of Nazri’s remark.
“Nazri seems to have said that the demands of Dong Zong are fair and let us hope that he will not sing a different tune in the cabinet.
“Nazri is forever playing to the gallery and is fond of commenting without understanding the real issues contained in the memorandum,” he said.
‘I walk the talk’
Nazri denied that he was singing a different tune and promised that he would back MCA in its effort to meet Dong Zong.
“Do you think outside I say I support but inside the meeting I don’t do the same? No.
“I will support MCA but it is up to the cabinet to make the final decision… I will support them. What I said in the paper, I will do the same in the cabinet meeting,” he said.
He added that addressing these problems was a long process and would require time.
Among the eight issues raised by Dong Zong are lack of funding and land for Chinese schools, lack of qualified Chinese teachers and non-recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), issues in the setting up of the Kuantan Chinese independent school and the non-approval of the Segamat Chinese independent school.
In March last year, Nazri had earned the ire of MCA leaders after hedescribed their party as a wife who is continuously abused but refuses to get a divorce.
Meanwhile, in a statement today, Chua said the matter has been communicated to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and four MCA ministers have been instructed to raise the issue in the cabinet meeting tomorrow
“MCA has been fighting for the recognition of UEC since the party’s new leadership came into power.
“That is why there have been some changes with regards to UEC. There is now some recognition in the role played by the independent Chinese schools in training the young and talented,” he said.
Among the progress, Chua said, was that all UEC students now qualify for National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans and the top 50 UEC students are given scholarships.
Chua also challenged Pakatan Rakyat to make clear its stance on this matter and to include it in its common manifesto.
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