It would be difficult not to draw an association between the proponents of vernacular schooling and the opposition parties what happened at the rally for Chinese schools that took place last week.
Once again vernacular education has become an issue in Malaysian politics, though with much speculation about the date of the election going around at the moment, one cannot help but feel that the issue has been raised by some parties for the sake of gaining the popular vote above all. It would be difficult not to draw an association between the proponents of vernacular schooling and the opposition parties after what happened at the rally for Chinese schools that took place last week.
But the question remains unanswered by all: Can we seriously expect there to be some semblance of a Malaysian nation as long as young Malaysian children are taught separately, in different language streams? And are we naïve enough to think that nations invent themselves, without there having to be some form of intervention and direction by the state?
I have written about this so many times that I am close to giving up altogether, for fear that any more articles would simply amount to a waste of paper.
But for the umpteenth time, let me repeat some of the things I have said before: If we were to look at the major developed countries of the world such as Britain, France and Germany, we will see that historically these countries used to be far more linguistically diverse than they are today. In France alone hundreds of dialects were spoken, as was the case in Germany, where each region had a dialect unique to itself.
As Robert Bartlett has argued in his work The Making Of Europe, the coming together of these small principalities and feudal states was only possible through the centralisation of power and the streamlining of language, giving birth to the national languages we know today: French, German and English. Bartlett notes, of course, that this did not happen without some degree of discomfort, but in the long run the sacrifices of the past seem to have paid off. Disparate communities (that may not