KUCHING: The Sarawak Government will step up its support for Chinese education, says Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem in his Lunar New Year address.
Adenan went the extra mile by stating his support for the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
In his address broadcast yesterday, the Chief Minister revealed he had written to the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is Education Minister, to find ways to recognise the UEC, which is the standard used by Chinese independent secondary schools nationwide.
“I have written to the Deputy Prime Minister to seek ways on how the UEC could be given due recognition by the Government,” Adenan said.
UEC is thorny subject in the country.
Although the certificate is recognised by reputable institutes around the world (including the UK’s Cambridge and Oxford universities) it is neither recognised by the Malaysian Government for entry into public universities nor for job applications for the civil service.
Adenan could be the first (and only) Barisan Nasional chief minister to vocally state his support, which should please various non-governmental groups.
Adenan, who will mark his first year at the helm of Sarawak at the end of the month, also promised to increase grants for Chinese schools.
“I have given out, for a start, a grant of RM3mil to help the schools. I am aware there are many non-Chinese students in these schools. I know the amount is not enough and I will increase the amount in the future.”
In a wide-ranging speech, Adenan also spoke about race relations, corruption and industrial development.
He called on Malaysians not to regard citizens of Chinese ethnicity pendatang or immigrants.
Taking a cue from Chinese zodiac animal of the goat, Adenan called on all to emulate the “gentle and mild” looking animal that is, on the inside, “strong and resilient”.
“We too should always be humble towards others but strong in our resolve and desire to do the best in our endeavors. The forefathers of our friends brought with them culture and tradition from mainland China many years ago.
“Your forefathers may be called immigrants but our Sarawakian Chinese of today should no longer be called ‘pendatang’. You call Sarawak your home, and indeed this is your home, just like so many races do.”
Sarawak, he added, belonged to all Sarawakians, and everyone was building “a greater home together” based on mutual respect and “the value of human dignity”, which needed to be “basis of our relationship with everyone around us”.
Camaraderie must prevail, he said, and that was the only way to overcome differences.
He said: “The Chinese community has always been an important part of the state’s political and economic life. I like to thank Chinese businesses for playing their role in building Sarawak. We cannot have ‘divide and rule’ tactics... Sarawak is for everybody and Sarawak is big enough for everybody.”
Truly, he said, there was no place on earth like Sarawak where “people lived as brothers and sisters”.
On a more political note, he called on the Chinese community to work with the state Government more closely.
“The Chinese must have meaningful representation in the state Government in order to be able to continue working effectively with all the communities in our common effort for progress and prosperity.
“As Chief Minister, I cannot administer Sarawak alone, neither can we leave the job entirely to Government machinery. I would like to reiterate I am Chief Minister for all Sarawakians, regardless of race and political inclination. I need the support and co-operation of all our people to make this state a better place.”
Among policies he said which benefited everyone, Adenan spoke about the recent reduction in electricity tariffs, which was announced last November.
“We are able to do this because power from out dams have already come, or will be coming, on stream. We might also reduce the rates for industrial consumers depending on the outcome of negotiations with Sarawak Energy Bhd.”