I would not be fair if I would just give one point of argument made by a contributor to Malaysiakini recently who disagreed with Richard Teo's points that former Primer Minister Abdul Razak, and not (Tun) Abdul Rahman Yakub as the Education Minister was responsible for the overnight removal of English as the medium of instruction in schools thus inevitably creating the present mess and failure in our educational system.
Here's Richard's defence of his earlier article in Malaysiakini-one of the best, if not the best, 'must read' online news portal.
I wish to reply to the stubborn refusal of the writer to accept the realty of the decision-making process in our government. Rahman Yaakub as the education minister then had no authority to make such a monumental change in the schools from English-medium to Malay medium without getting instructions from then prime minister Abdul Razak to do so.
A similar analogy can be seen when Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the change in the medium of instruction from Bahasa Malaysia to English for Science and Maths. It was the PM who decided on the change and certainly not the education minister.
In the present context, can our ‘Kerismuddin’ unilaterally decide on a change from Bahasa Malaysia to English as the medium of instruction in schools? Certainly not. Such a change would obviously have to have the concurrence and direction of the PM perhaps after consultation with the cabinet. This alone would clearly diminish any possibility of Rahman acting unilaterally to change the language policy.
How convenient and presumptuous of the writer to even suggest that Razak and the rest of Umno members were caught by surprise by Rahman's unilateral action. To give credit to Rahman Yaakub for making this momentous change is to suggest that he was the ‘power behind the throne’ and that Razak was a mere puppet doing his bidding. That is a very unlikely possibility.
The writer suggested that Razak was responsible for converting Chinese-medium schools to English-medium and based on that premise I still maintain my stand Razak was responsible for changing the medium of instruction for our schools from English-medium to Malay-medium.