Of Language and Roots
Once in Malaysia, a primary Chinese school in Subang Jaya, SJK (C) Chee Wen planned to build a RM5.8mil hall that will serve as the school’s multi-purpose centre. The school which was first established in Sungei Tinggi Estate, Kuala Selangor in 1939 had been relocated to Subang Mewah in 2000 to meet the demand for more Chinese schools in Subang Jaya. As the number of students began to increase, there is a need for its own building. The school then appealed to the public to donate by buying a brick for RM 1,000. I suppose then Chinese in Malaysia are a lucky lot since they have schools to propagate their mother tongue and are free to raise funds too, to upgrade the schools. The scenario is very unlike other South East Asian countries. In Myammar for instance, I once met a Chinese there who had to learn Mandarin in a Chinese temple and some young Indonesian I came across in Indonesia recently, are more comfortable speaking Bahasa Indonesia. Many of them, I heard have lost their Chinese tongue, and some said, roots too. In Singapore, the former premier, Lee Kuan Yew closed all the Chinese schools there but ironically, the Singaporeans still produce Mandarin dramas for TV and the theatres! No doubt, there is a big group of Westernized Chinese there but the fact is, many still retain their language and roots. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that Chinese is still taught in the schools there and that it is compulsory to pass Mandarin to enter varsity.