In 1987 when an UMNO Anwar Ibrahim was Minister of Education, he issued policies and actions that were inimical to Chinese vernacular schools. In an unprecedented and grossly insensitive policy against the Chinese Malaysian community’s concerns for education, his ministry appointed 100 senior assistants and principals to vernacular Chinese schools, who were NOT educated in Mandarin.
Chinese Malaysians saw it as an Anwar Ibrahim move to undermine the foundations of Chinese education, because the cornerstone of a Chinese vernacular school hs always been the principal.
Many considered the Education Ministry decision to appoint ‘unqualified’ principals as a malicious move to subvert the standing of Chinese vernacular schools. His ministry had also issued a proselytising policy where non-Muslim students (Chinese, Indians and Eurasians) had to hold their hands up in Muslim fashion during school weekly prayers.
Even leaders from the BN’s component parties, the MCA and Gerakan were so shocked by the Anwar Ibrahim policy (and politically undermined) that they were compelled into joining opposition leaders and Dong Jiao Zong Chinese educationists to call for the resignation of Anwar Ibrahim.
The minister's policy was so revolting and threatening to one of the central pillars of Chinese culture (education) that the MCA and Gerakan did the unexpected - they found their backbone.
In a not-unexpected UMNO response, the party of Anwar Ibrahim led by its brownshirts proposed to retaliate to that insult to their hero with a show of force, by holding a mass rally of 10,000 at the TPCA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur under the pretext of celebrating its 41st Anniversary. UMNO claimed (threatened) that the rally would eventually see the attendance of half a million members.
There was a strong perception (even by police) that, had the rally been held, racial riots would have been a strong probability, given the typical UMNO bigoted speeches and keris waving at such UMNO rallies. The racial tension was so high it was positively crackling.
Given the rising racial tension caused by Anwar Ibrahim’s insensitive move to undermine the foundations of Chinese vernacular education in Malaysia, the Inspector General of Police did a preemptive ops called Operation Lallang, where Chinese politicians and educationists, including some token UMNO small timers like Ibrahim Ali (Pasir Mas) and Fahmi Ibrahim (UMNO Youth), were rounded up by police and incarcerated.
The opposition bigwigs were opposition leader Lim Kit Siang and his deputy Karpal Singh (DAP) and social activists Chandra Muzaffar and Kua Kia Soong. The MCA also contributed to the populating of Kem Kemunting with MCA Vice President and Perak Chief Chan Kit Chee.
BN leaders quietly told MCA Youth leader Lee Kim Sai to disappear overseas for a timely holiday, though Lee eventually had his Datukship revoked by the late Sultan of Selangor on the instigation of UMNO Youth.
All this, thanks to Anwar Ibrahim and his education policies.
So forgive me for puking when now I hear him talking about his championing of the right to mother tongue education. In criticising his former UMNO colleagues, Najib and Hishammuddin Hussein, the latter for the Education policy on Science and Maths to be taught inEnglish, he screamed out to a largely Chinese crowd in Ijok:
"I am Malay, so I want Maths and Science to be taught in Malay. But it should also be taught in Chinese and Tamil."
Those Chinese lapped up his recently dicovered support for Chinese vernacular education.
Oh, his honey-sweet talk (which wasn’t ever 'walked') has been amazing.
But the Ijokian Chinese ought to be mindful that his brand of honey isn’t made by bees but by highly poisonous hornets (tebuans).