PAP government responsible for falling Chinese standards

I refer to the 11 Jul 2014 Straits Times report “Govt committed to helping S’poreans master mother tongue”.

PM Lee claims that schools in the 1950s either taught in English or in Chinese but not both. That is not true. Mr Lee Kong Chian had already introduced bilingual education to the Chinese High School in 1949 and also proposed bilingual and trilingual education for the country in 1953 before PAP was founded:

• 1934 – 1955: Served as chairman of the management committee of Chinese High School. In 1949, he convinced the principal to introduce bilingual education.
• 1953: Proposed introducing bilingual and trilingual education, and equal treatment for schools of all language streams. His proposals were accepted by the colonial government and included in the White Paper on Education Policy that introduced a unified education system for Singapore.

PM Lee has the cheek to say that it was government policies that safeguarded the Chinese language in Singapore when in the first place it was the PAP that many authors pointed to as the culprit that destroyed Chinese schools in Singapore.

• PAP systematically undercut Chinese education as it saw the Chinese educated as both political and cultural threats
• PAP set about neutralising Chinese schools, which were powerful auxiliaries to labour unions and the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce which is the major funding and controlling body for Chinese education in a bid to control education
• PAP, through government policies, strengthened social and economic forces that reduced the number of Chinese schools
[Carl A. Trocki, Singapore: wealth, power and the culture of control”, page 150]

• PAP sought to destroy Chinese education, page 81
• Racial integration policy was a cover for an all-out attack on Chinese education, page 84
• PAP undermined Chinese education autonomy while attempting to win Malay support by appearing to be multiracial, page 85
• The 1969 bilingual policy, while appeasing Chinese public opinion, completed the demolition of the Chinese education system, page 89
• The government being the largest employer in Singapore could have given better job opportunities to the Chinese educated but refused to, page 79
[Christopher Tremewan, The political economy of social control in Singapore]

• PAP promised equal treatment for all language streams but not equal employment opportunities for people from non-English streams
[Tong Chee Kiong, Identity and ethnic relations in Southeast Asia: racializing Chineseness, page 62]

PM Lee maintains that Speak Mandarin and bilingualism has allowed the younger generation to communicate in both Mandarin and English today. But the younger Malaysian generation who can speak Mandarin, English, Cantonese and Malay shows there is no need to suppress dialects to promote Mandarin or English.

I refer too to the 11 Jul 2014 Straits Times report “PMO responds to Zaobao editorial on Chinese language”.

PMO cites Hong Konger’s inability to master three languages to support its view that most people cannot master English, Mandarin and dialect at the same time. But Malaysians have shown that it is possible to achieve conversational fluency in English, Mandarin, Malay and Cantonese without compromising written proficiency in English.

PMO rejects blaming the bilingual policy for falling Chinese standards and instead states its belief that without it, Singaporeans would not understand, speak or write Chinese. But as explained above, many authors believe that it was the PAP government that actively brought down Chinese schools and Chinese education in the first place. The blame must fall squarely on the PAP government.

PMO views as extreme and unjust Zaobao’s assertion that the Speak Mandarin campaign and bilingualism divided the pioneer generation from their grandchildren leading to loss of Chinese values and hastening of Westernization. PMO’s defense is the similar shifts in values and attitudes in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

• PMO should not deny the disconnection between generations when grandparents only speak dialect while grandchildren do not.
• PMO should not deny that Singapore is the most westernized amongst China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

PMO is of the opinion that Speak Mandarin strengthens, not weakens the younger generation’s sense of belonging. PMO should not deny that the damage had already been done long before the Speak Mandarin campaign.

Like the stop-at-two policy, the government will never admit to any wrongdoing.


One Response to “PAP government responsible for falling Chinese standards”

  1. Response to PM Lee’s National Day Rally 2015 | Yours Truly Singapore Says:

    […] The teaching of English in vernacular schools was first proposed by Lee Kong Chian, not Lee Kuan Yew (…). […]

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