By Kuik Cheng Kang, Sin Chew Daily
What has breakneck technological advancement taken away from us?
In addition to our privacy, as a matter of fact we are also surrendering our much priced freedom from fear.
Technology has brought us conveniences and has become an irresistible trend for the human race. Nevertheless, technology has also wreaked tremendous havoc to human lives.
Living in the age of Internet inundated with negative energy, the freedom of expression which we have anticipated appears to be further and further away from us.
Thanks to the manipulative actions of big data, our cyberspace today is composed of fragmental arbitrary narratives whereby every individual lives in his or her own little world, paying absolutely no respect for other people's opinions.
As if that is not enough, our insistence in idealising our own views has torn our society completely apart. In this chaotic and murky society of ours, there is still one manipulative hand invisible to many, which could be rogue politicians, profiteering businessmen, religious or social scum in our midst.
These people are systematically generating consensus in the cyberspace with the evil motive of bringing down their rivals or opponents, by creating their own brand of "truths" in winning over their supporters' hearts to advance their ulterior wicked objectives.
At the same time, this nasty hand is also working very hard to undermine the media's credibility by means of all kinds of lies in a bid to create panic in our society. The ordinary people's freedom from fear has been usurped, and many people and entities have remained silent for their own benefit.
Cyberbullying and slandering are the much employed lynching tools in this Internet age. Judges are no longer needed in our world, as the line between the right and wrong is obliterated. You can fabricate "fake news" by way of quibbles and lies, if you have sufficient power and authority to do so.
In the end, everyone is hushed and muted out of fear.
The society will become more helpless if even the media are too fearful to speak up or incapable of doing so.
DAP veteran Liew Ah Kim has made some truly inspiring remarks of late.
He said, "Compared to the previous education ministry, the PH government's education ministry does not display any fundamental difference from its predecessor. The authorities continue to practise the hidden agenda of mono-stream education. Only people who act against their own conscience or are harbouring some ill intentions will endorse the teaching of Jawi calligraphy at Chinese and Tamil primary schools. This is the problem of the problem! The motive of the education ministry sidelining the school boards couldn't have been more obvious now. What is more worrying is that the erstwhile powerful voice of opposition has now been remarkably toned down or vanished altogether, including some civic organisations and political parties."
On the issue of Jawi calligraphy, many people feel that Dong Jiao Zong no longer has that outspoken voice it used to be known for.
Moreover, some in the government have not performed their duty conscientiously to oversee the government's operation, but have over and again endorsed the policy and blamed the media for playing up and magnifying the issue. As a result, political parties on both sides of the divide, local Chinese associations and the media (Chinese community) have let go of a golden opportunity to safeguard the integrity of the Chinese education in this country, only to realise that something is not quite right after we have allowed the Jawi module to be printed on our children's textbooks and after the ministry guidelines were unveiled. This shows how serious a lapse of duty is on the part of those on the first line of defence.
The situation today, as Liew puts it, "is easy to bring in the policy but almost impossible to take it out in future. For the Jawi issue, Dong Jiao Zong's leadership should have sufficient experience and wisdom to understand this. You allowed Jawi to come in, but now feel something is not right and begin to negotiate your terms. Don't you think you have failed your predecessors who once made selfless contributions and sacrifices for the Chinese education of this country? What about the last defence line and safeguarding the integrity of the local Chinese primary schools? How are you going to answer to the Malaysian Chinese community with a strong passion for their mother tongue education, for allowing the golden opportunity to slip out of your hands? Now that the crack has formed, it is a matter of time the entire embankment will come tumbling down. How tragic is that!"
We allow this eventuality to befall us because someone has successfully deprived our "freedom from fear". Many organisations and individuals fail to speak up for fear of retaliation or to secure their own interests.
Having said that, voice of opposition have never ceased streaming in from the general public since the very beginning. These people and some minor organisations have voiced out in defence of the Chinese education but unfortunately, the power of their voices is too weak to be of any significance.
Hua Zong president Goh Tian Chuan issued two statements consecutively after the guidelines of Jawi teaching were released. In addition to highlighting the grave concern that many people do not actually see (disrupting harmony at SJKCs), he also directed ten questions to the education ministry which the ministry has so far not offered a reply. Only after that did Dong Jiao Zong announce to hold a national congress for Chinese organisations on December 28 to protest the government's decision to introduce Jawi calligraphy at Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Meanwhile, the Selangor-KL special committee on Jawi has also said it would take the case to the court soon in protest of the government's decision to force students to learn Jawi at school on a simple majority.
The issue has now snowballed to a magnitude that these actions by the local Chinese community may no longer be able to resolve the problem, and may even be exploited by the Umno-PAS alliance into unfortunate racial confrontation.
On this Jawi issue, all that we want is a political solution, which is the inevasible obligation of the current government that has secured the electoral support of over 90% of Chinese Malaysians. They mustn't think that Jawi is all about those three pages or is a non-issue blown out of proportion by some.
Given the historical precedents that we have, the local Chinese community indeed has valid reasons to be worried. More importantly, the Chinese community is not essentially against the teaching of Jawi, but this should be done in a form of artistic appreciation rather than enforcing it in regular textbooks. The Chinese community's fears and demands are not that inexplicable anyway.
The authorities must never assume that the dust has finally settled over the issue. Instead, they must adopt an approach of consultation and dialogue in addressing this matter.
In the meantime, they must also learn to be more sensitive towards the authority of the school boards instead of blindly endorsing the policy, which will not help settle the problem amicably.
We voted you because we wanted you to seriously care about the feelings of the Chinese community and respond to our needs.
Being in the government doesn't mean your job is all done now.