7:48pm 07/02/2024
In the midst of festive merrymaking, an introspect into the future of Malaysian Chinese community
By:Kuik Cheng Kang / Sin Chew Daily

Not yet the Chinese New Year, but already local Chinese association leaders, businesses and even people in the street are busily throwing lou sang parties to usher in the Year of the Dragon.

No doubt, festive mood is in the air and all around us, and such  a phenomenon is very Malaysian.

Many friends from China told me such an enveloping festive mood is hardly felt even in their country.

Just as the “spring breeze kisses my cheeks,” by right I should immerse myself in the joyous festive mood just like everyone else,  but the long-standing thoughts lurking inside my head once again pop up, and I feel it is apt to bring up these issues for my Chinese Malaysian brethren to ponder over, as the Spring Festival is drawing nigh.

Many foreigners feel that the Malaysian Chinese community is downright incredible, with such a multitude of local Chinese associations whose names they often get messed up.

I told them smilingly, “Indeed. There are simply too many factions here, and everyone wants to be tai kor. Their events are of largely similar nature, and valuable resources have not been put to proper use!”

Take the CNY events for instance, Chinese associations, big and small, are rushing to organize their own open house events. It is highly likely that many of these events happen to be held on the same day or even at the same time, and association leaders and invited guests will find themselves completely drained of energy at the end of the day, having to attend a continuous stream of CNY events.

Additionally, as many are invariably event-hopping, much food has gone to waste.

Just if all the local Chinese associations would put down their pride, work in synergy with others to take turns to organize the CNY open house event, and pool their resources to host one event that truly belongs to the Malaysian Chinese community, how wonderful would that be?

The Malaysian Chinese community comprises the four major pillars of Chinese associations, Chinese businesses, Chinese education and Chinese language media. These four pillars have been working together to safeguard the rights of Chinese Malaysians since the dawn of nationhood, voicing up in one voice, supporting one another, and preserving a lasting relationship with one another.

While everything seems to look good today, we must never take all this for granted. In its stead, we need to reflect on ourselves, and contemplate ways that will keep the community continuously strong.

The country’s citizen population stood at 30.4 million last year, 22.6% or 6.9 million of whom Chinese. The disparity between the local Malay and Chinese populations has been widening year after year, and politically this has a negative implication for the Chinese community in the long run.

And weirdly, even with such a low population ratio, we are hosting more than 15,000 Chinese associations of every shape and size.

In the past, Chinese associations and business associations have been playing a pivotal role in connecting the community. But as time changes, we should elevate such a role to a higher level of mutual collaboration in spearheading the entire community’s development.

If the local Chinese associations and businesses would pool together their resources into more targeted sectors, that should generate a far-reaching effect on the community’s future.

For instance, through negotiations, in-depth discussions and collaboration, some of the associations could perhaps help finance education development while others support research institutions, in seeking a development direction for the community while broadening the scope of vision of local Chinese businessmen and association leaders in tackling the many domestic and external challenges.

Such a mode of collaboration will invariably render the deployment of resources more targeted, and bring substantial benefits to the entire community.

As we all know, Chinese Malaysians place a whole lot of emphasis on their children’s education. Year after year we have been making donations unceasingly, and have witnessed with reassurance vastly improved infrastructure for the country’s Chinese primary schools as well as independent high schools.

Although there has been a marked improvement in physical conditions, there are still plenty of issues pertaining to the Chinese language education in Malaysia that need to be dealt with with specific solutions.

There is an urgent need for us to focus on making quality education available to more children, encouraging them to sit for Chinese language papers in public examinations, ensuring steady supply of qualified teachers at SJKCs, while lending support to independent high school teachers, who are not drawing lucrative salaries, so that they can continue to devote themselves to Chinese language education.

It is only with such efforts that we are able to deepen the influences of education for the well-being of the community’s future.

Malaysian Social Entrepreneurs Foundation (MSEF) President Chan Wah Kiang announced last week that the foundation would set up a special fund for long-serving independent Chinese high school teachers for 10 years beginning this year, as a token of appreciation for teaching staff who have been devoting themselves to education.

At the same time, Chan also drew the attention of the local Chinese community to the meager remunerations of teachers at the country’s independent Chinese high schools.

The objective of this initiative is to recognize the selfless contributions of these teachers to the country’s Chinese language education, and as a form of substantial gratitude for their long years of services.

I have to admit that I was deeply touched while reading this piece of news. In addition to the “Thank You Fund,” I feel that raising the salaries of teachers is also of paramount importance, as this will galvanize more young Chinese Malaysians into independent high school education, which in turn should lift the schools’ education standards to benefit more students.

Such an initiative not only recognizes the teachers’ selfless contributions, but will also help in the sustained development of Malaysia’s independent high schools.

Additionally, for high-achieving students who have been admitted by world-class universities but have been denied scholarships and are from not so well-off families, perhaps the Chinese community can consider distributing scholarships through some authorized institutions to help these students further their studies in our continuous quest to nurture talented workforce in various economic sectors.

Meanwhile, as an ethnicity that has been thriving through the generations with hard work and undying resolve, the Malaysian Chinese community will require a powerful think tank organization focusing on various national policies as well as solutions for the community’s future development.

And it is with such objective that the Center for Malaysian Chinese Community Studies (later renamed the Center for Malaysian Chinese Studies, CMCS) was announced by 15 Chinese associations in Malaysia back in 1985.

Unfortunately, this community think tank organization with the intention of amassing the professional know-how and expertise from various sectors has yet to be successfully implemented at this point of time, and the Malaysian Chinese community has yet to feel the actual benefits brought about by such organization.

CMCS Chairman Yau Teck Kong said it is the center’s obligation to provide timely information to the Chinese community, which is also the mission entrusted to the center when it was inaugurated by the 15 Chinese associations back in those days.

Today, we must carry on with this mission and provide more extensive services to the Chinese community.

The Malaysian Chinese community must lend its full support to the CMCS, the one and only private research institution focusing on issues pertaining to the Malaysian Chinese community.

We must ensure that sufficient funds and resources are made available to the center for the recruitment of more qualified professionals and researchers in order to provide professionalized services required by local Chinese associations.

Fellow Chinese Malaysians, being content with the comfort zone we are in and over-indulgence in merrymaking could rob us of our discernment.

What the community needs now is progressive and smart thinking, and innovation. Timely introspect can change the community’s future destiny.

It is my wish that this humble piece from me can serve as an inspiration for you all.

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous Year of the Dragon!




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