The Chinese Language Movement in Malaysia, 1952-1967: Language, Ethnicity and Nation-Building in a Plural Society

Author: Tan Yao Sua & Teoh Hooi See
Format: Paperback 104 pp.
Subjects: Education, Ethnic Studies, History & Biography
ISBN: 9789670960043
Publisher: SIRD
Price: RM20.00
The Chinese language movement in Malaysia was launched by the Chinese educationists to demand for the recognition of Chinese as an official language and to legitimise the status of Chinese education in the national educational system. In the process, the official language issue evolved into an ethnic issue that strained ethnic relations between the Chinese and the Malays with severe political implications that threatened to impede the nation-building process. The Chinese language movement was launched in 1952 as a response to the British attempt to establish bilingual national primary schools (commonly known as national schools) teaching in English and Malay to replace the vernacular primary schools that had existed since the colonial period. It picked up pace when the Chinese educationists managed to garner political support for their demand. But the Chinese educationists decided to temporarily halt the movement prior to the election of an interim local government following political promises to safeguard the development of Chinese education. Unfortunately, subsequent developments did not live up to their expectations, especially the forced conversion of the Chinese secondary schools to national-medium secondary schools, leading to the revival of the movement which reached new heights prior to the enactment of the National Language Act in 1967. But the movement was strongly contested by the Malay nationalists affiliated to a language action front. Also, there was a lack of Chinese political support from within the coalition government. All this brought to an end a language movement that was intended to legitimise the position of Chinese education in the national educational system.
This work examines the politics of language in Malaysia during a crucial period when the nation-building processwas in its formative stages. It focuses on the contrasting linguistic assertions of the Chinese educationists and the Malay nationalists as well as the attempt by the government to resolve these assertions through an accommodative approach. As it shows, language and ethnicity are inextricably intertwined as far as the nation-building process in plural societies is concerned. Language and ethnicity remain a relevant issue in contemporary Malaysia, especially when it involves the vernacular primary school system which has evoked intense ethnic contestation over its actual functional role in the nation-building process.
About the author
Dr. Tan Yao Sua is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His main research interests include educational policy analysis, minority education, bilingual education, sociology of education and Malaysian Chinese Studies.
Dr. Teoh Hooi See is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Chinese Studies, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Malaya. Her main research interests are in the areas of Malaysian Chinese Studies and Asian Literature.


Posted in Education, Ethnic Studies, History

The Majority-Minority Nexus: Education of Ethnic Minorities in Plural Societies

Authors:   R. Santhiram & Tan Yao Sua
Format: Paperback 119 pp.
Subjects: Education, Ethnic Studies, Social Studies
ISBN: 9789670630991
Publisher: SIRD
First Published: 2015

This monograph examines the education of ethnic minorities in plural societies within the broader context of majority-minority relations. It comprises eight theoretical chapters dealing with various aspects of the education of ethnic minorities. The education of ethnic minorities in plural societies has always been a hotly contested area, having a dynamic of its own, often involving minority linguistic and cultural claims that go against those of the majority. This is especially true in the case of non-marginal minorities or active minorities who are in a position to make such claims. Notwithstanding the right of the minority groups to use their own language in plural societies, when such claims are pitted against the majority language, they have to accept the fact that the majority language is usually recognised as the language of national integration and the sole or the main medium of instruction in the national educational system and as such, their claims for minority linguistic rights should not override the supremacy of the majority language. It is perhaps for this reason that ethnic minorities have to take a middle course so that their linguistic and cultural claims do not jeopardise their social mobility as well as the nation-building process in plural societies. Such an act of balancing is not only necessary but also crucial to the survival of ethnic minorities within the mainstream society. It is essentially a matter of choice between maintaining their ‘life styles’ or ‘life chances’. It is against this backdrop that bilingual education is perhaps a viable option for ethnic minorities to accommodate their educational needs as well as their role in the national-building process. While there are different models of bilingual education, the Malaysian model of transitional bilingual education for the ethnic minorities merits our attention. Despite some shortcomings in its implementation, this model of bilingual education has been able to ensure language maintenance within a wider shift to the majority language. 

About the Authors

Dr. Tan Yao Sua is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His main research interests include minority education, educational policy analysis, bilingual education, sociology of education and Malaysian Chinese Studies.

Prof. R. Santhiram is Professor and Dean of the School of Education, Languages and Communications, Wawasan Open University, Penang. His main research interests are in the areas of education for ethnic minorities, educational policy analysis and history of education. 

Posted in Education

One Malaysia, Under God, Bipolar: Essays on Society, Schooling, and Salvation

Author: Azly Rahman
Format: Paperback 160pp.
Subjects: Politics, Religion, Education
ISBN: 9789670630878
Published: 2015
Price: RM25
In this fine collection of opinion pieces, the respected and sagacious public intellectual Azly Rahman reflects on the political machinations and cultural politics in Malaysia. 
The book is a smorgasbord of commentaries on the poetics and politics of cultural life in a nation that is struggling to transcend its racialized structure to forge a cohesive and harmonious future. The word ‘smorgasbord’ may give the impression that what is presented in this book is simply a variety of ‘dishes’, hot and cold, familiar and exotic, all separate and distinct treats laid out on a buffet table. It is a smorgasbord with a difference: all the ‘culinary delights’ (read: commentaries) are laid out in an orderly manner with a story line that threads through the whole text. Organised around three main themes—society, schooling, and salvation—the commentaries offer rich food for thought and reflection and satisfy the intellectual and political appetite of anyone interested in Malaysian affairs and cultural politics in general….
Azly Rahman avers that ‘Political change needs social imagination and critical sensibility founded upon a very strong ethical system drawn and designed as a national philosophy; a transcultural system inspired by the strength and universality of all religious and non-religious philosophies – not just based on Islam that has its limitations and cultural biases, albeit insisted upon and imposed onto many as a complete and all-encompassing, all-hegemonising political, social and existential philosophy.’ I could not agree more.  
Guided by such a principled philosophy, Azly Rahman makes a sound plea to Malaysians (and others): ‘Let us work together on a common ground—for the common good’. It is a clarion call to Malaysians to get out of their comfort zone and apathy and to join the movement for a better Malaysia where bigotry, racism and religious extremism are kept in check and where peace, harmony, intercultural understanding are reinstated and reinforced as part and parcel of everyday life. 
There is much offered in this book that can constitute what I would boldly label as the ‘Malaysian Manifesto’. 
Alberto Gomes, Ph.D
Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University, Melbourne
Global Director, Dialogue, Empathic Engagement and Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network.
Posted in Books, Education, Politics, Religion

Globalisation and the Development of Higher Education: The Case of a Malaysian Public University

Author: Tan Yao Sua & Goh Soo Khoon
Format: Paperback 80pp.
Subjects: Education
ISBN: 9789670630984
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2015
Price: RM20
This monograph examines the responses of a Malaysian public university, namely Universiti Sains Malaysia, to the impact of globalisation vis-à-vis three main areas of concern: the recruitment of international students, the requirement to engage with international academic publications and the growing importance of world university rankings. There are concerted efforts put in place by the university to recruit more international students. But a global branding is needed to offset factors that have worked against its recruitment of international students. In the area of academic publications, there has been an increased emphasis on publications in citation-indexed journals in line with the globalised context of academic publications. Concerted efforts have also been put in place to enhance the reputation of academic journals published by the university. Yet, it is in the area of world university rankings that the counter-globalisation stand of the university has been most thought provoking in that it has rejected this standard benchmark for academic excellence by proposing an alternative benchmark. 
Dr. Tan Yao Sua is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His main research interests include educational policy analysis, minority education, bilingual education, sociology of education and Malaysian Chinese Studies.
Dr. Goh Soo Khoon is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. Her main research interests are in the areas of public policy analysis, international economics and macroeconomics. 
Posted in Books, Education

The Emergence and Widening of Ethnic Divide in the Malaysian Educational System

Authors: Sezali Md Darit & Tan Yao Sua
Format: Paperback 79 pp.
Subjects: Education, Ethnic Studies
ISBN: 9789670630847
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2015
The existence of an ethnic divide is a common problem in multiethnic societies, more so when these societies are straddled with contradictions reflected in their socioeconomic and political composition and configuration. The existence of an ethnic divide in the educational sector is most unfortunate since one of the fundamental purposes of schooling in multiethnic societies is to achieve a common process of socialisation and enculturation among the different ethnic group to achieve a strong sense of social cohesion. While Malaysia has aspired to provide a common or uniform system of schooling for the different ethnic groups since Independence, such an aspiration was however compromised by the co-existence of alternative pathways of education that are divided along ethnic lines. There are four dimensions underpinning these ethnic divisions, namely linguistic, preferential, religious and class. This monograph explores the emergence and subsequent developments of these alternative pathways of education and their impact on Malaysia’s nation-building process. 
Dr. Tan Yao Sua is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His main research interests include educational policy analysis, minority education, bilingual education, sociology of education and Malaysian Chinese Studies.
Dr. Sezali Md Darit is Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang. His main research interests are in the areas of public policy analysis, political geography, electoral studies and geography information system.
Posted in Education

Early Child Care and Education in Malaysia: Towards Professionalisation

Authors: Lydia Foong, Palanisamy K. Veloo and Mogana Dhamotharan
Format: Paperback, 110 pages
Subjects: Social Studies
ISBN: 9789670630472
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2014
Price: RM35.00

Malaysia is the home of close to thirty million people in the 2013 population census, of whom more than 9.5 million are children under the age of 18. There are approximately 2.5 million children who are four years old and below, and 2.5 million children between ages five to nine.

More than a quarter of our children are below five years of age; they are often taken care of by caregivers other than their parents. The number of young children from infant to four years of age enrolled at childcare centres is expected to grow four or five fold; and preschool children’s enrollment is expected to increase to 97 percent by 2020.

Despite childcare centres being regulated by the Department of Social Welfare, only two out of ten childcare providers in each centre have a basic childcare training certificate. Private preschools regulated by the Ministry of Education have less than 10% of their teachers qualified with the Diploma in early childhood education.

This phenomenon is raising a number of serious questions on the quality standard of services offered by private ECCE centres in Malaysia, in particular the teaching and learning processes, the overall status of professionalism and the structure that supports it, and how the transition to primary schools can be managed effectively.

Will the private ECCE workforce be ready for the transformation that is taking place in the services for young children? How will training of childcare providers and preschool teachers be ramped Up to reach the aspired outcomes?

This book reviews the status and work conditions of the ECCE workforce in the private sector in Malaysia in the hope to put into perspective environmental factors in the workplace that cause people to either have a positive or negative attitude towards their job. The authors through this study provide recommendation for ECCE stakeholders to realise their obligations to recognise the potential of staff members and help them fulfil their needs for self-actualization.

Posted in Education, English Books, Social Studies

Affirmative Action or Discrimination? A Comparative Study of Higher Education in the US and Malaysia

Author: Kong Wee Cheng
Format: Paperback, 102 pages
Subjects: Education, Social Studies
ISBN: 9789670630304
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2014
Price: RM23.00

Preferential treatment policy has been in place in the United States and Malaysia for over a few decades. What are the consequences of preferential treatment in higher education in Malaysia and the United States? Have this preferential policy achieved its initial goals? How do members of the beneficiary and non-beneficiary groups respond to it? Does preferential treatment policy resulted in ethnic polarisation?

This book addresses the origins including the political implications of preferential policy in Malaysia and the United States. It seeks an in-depth understanding of the consequences of the policy.

Posted in Education, English Books, Social Studies

Gerakan Pendidikan Cina Di Malaysia: Satu Kajian Tentang Perjuangan Dong Jiao Zong (1970-2002)

Author: Cheong Yuen Keong
Format: Paperback, 438 pages
ISBN: 9789675832710
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2013
Price: RM38.00
Buku ini meninjau tentang Gerakan Pendidikan Cina di Malaysia Khususnya menumpu kepada perjuangan Dong Jiao Zong dari tahun 1970 hingga 202. Tempoh masa ini dipilih atas sebab kerajaan mula melaksanakan Dasar Pelajaran Kebangsaan yang menghala kepada penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan sebagai bahasa pengantar tunggal di semua institusi pendidikan dengan spenuhnya pada tahun 1970, manakala tahun 2002 dipilih sebagai tarikh berhenti atas sebab terdapat perubahan menonjol dalam pelaksanaan dasar tersebut apabila bahasa Inggeris mula digunakan sebagai bahasa pengantar untuk mengajar mata pelajaran Sains dan Matematik mulai tahun 2003.

Sememangnya tempoh masa ini merupakan jangka waktu pendidikan Cina dilanda banyak krisis dan dilemma lantaran kesungguhan kerajaan untuk merealisasikan ‘matlamat akhir’ Laporan Razak 1956 yang mencadangkan penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan sebagai bahasa pengantar tunggal di semua institusi pendidikan. Pelaksanaan kerajaan tersebut dianggap sebagai suatu tindakan untuk menyekat perkembangan pendidikan Cina dan menghakis identity sekolah Cina oleh Dong Jiao Zong. Dalam buku ini, permasalahan pencetusan Gerakan Pendidikan Cina diteliti mengikut kerangka konflik etnik, iaitu antara pembentukan bangsa-negara dan pengekalan identity etnik, serta pembalahan persepsi tentang konsep pluralistic dalam bidang pendidikan dan bahasa, iaitu antara pemupukan system persekolahan satu aliran dengan pelbagai aliran.

Dari segi lain, perjuangan Dong Jiao Zong ditinjau dari kerangka perjuangan kumpulan kepentingan yang berjaya mencetuskan gerakan social yang berterusan dan berpengaruh. Hasil penyelidikan menunjukkan bahawa perjuangan Gerakan Pendidikan Cina yang diterajui Dong Jiao Zong ini membawa impak dan pengaruh yang kuat kepada negara amnya dan masyarakat Cina khususnya. Keupanyaan Gerakan Pendidikan Cina mempengaruhi pola pengundian dan pendirian masyarakat Cina menyebabkan parti-parti politik memandang serius tentang tuntutannya dan kerajaan turut menyediakan ruang kompromi kepada perkembangan sekolah Cina.

Posted in Education, Ethnic Studies, Malay Books

Educational Issues in Multiethnic Malaysia

Authors: R. Santhiram and Tan Yao Sua
Format: Paperback, 230 pages
Subjects: Education, Ethnic Studies
ISBN: 9789670630076
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2013
Price: RM30.00


Education in multiethnic societies is a subject of considerable debates in almost all parts of the world. These debates have invoked strongly-felt positions between competing ethnic groups over a host of issues that have a profound impact on the nation building process.

Apart from deep-seated issues arising from contrasting internal demands over educational rights and equality, emerging issues arising from external influences such as the global spread of English as a result of globalisation have also impacted the nation building process of multiethnic societies.

It is against this context that educational issues in multiethnic societies merit our attention. In the case of Malaysia, discourses over these issues are particularly intense and hotly contested by the different ethnic groups.

This is primarily because of the extreme difficulties in mediating these complicated issues which are impinged by competing socio-cultural, economic and political interests.

This book explores the contested terrains of education in multiethnic Malaysia. It comprises seven chapters that cover three crucial areas of educational provisions and delivery, namely education of ethnic minorities, education and national integration, and educational language policy.

These three crucial areas are often the prime concerns of policy makers in multiethnic societies who have to tread a thin line in resolving these issues which are underpinned by intense coterminous interests and inter-ethnic competition, and having the potential to generate conflicts, contestation and power struggle.

As far as the Malaysian policy makers are concerned, their efforts in resolving these issues have not been overly successful. It is most unfortunate that their policy decisions are at times influenced by competing political and ethnic interests rather than guided by sound theoretical underpinnings that could put the educational development of the country on a stronger platform and a clearer trajectory.

Posted in Education, English Books, Ethnic Studies

The Education of Ethnic Minorities: The Case of the Malaysian Chinese

Authors: R. Santhiram & Tan Yao Sua
Format: Paperback 185 pp.
Subjects: Education, Ethnic Studies, Malaysia
ISBN: 9789675832062
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2010
Price: RM25.00
This is a case study of the dilemmas of minority education in plural societies, focusing on the complex phenomenon of the education of the Malaysian Chinese. The Malaysian education system accommodates minority interests by allowing for Tamil and Chinese-medium primary schools. But since Malay is the main medium of instruction, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels, most minority students undergo a transitional bilingual education.

The authors review the background to this segmented system as well as relevant literature on minority education. Both colonial era and post-independence language and education policies have been contested and divisive. While nation-building remains a key concern, education and language policies often reflect majority–minority relations, rather than being focused purely on pedagogic goals—or interethnic socialization and integration.

The Chinese educationists have been a driving force in these developments. But their vision of a complete system of Chinese-medium education, as this book shows, is not fully supported by Chinese parents. Furthermore, the flawed implementation of transitional bilingual education has resulted in, among other problems, linguistic dysfunctionality. A substantial number of Chinese students have such a poor grasp of Malay that they drop out of secondary school, while overall Chinese-language competency also deteriorates after primary school.

This objective, scholarly analysis should be read by educationists, scholars, journalists, policy-makers, and parents who seek to learn more about the history, context, and longer-term implications of the education of the Chinese in multiethnic Malaysia.

Posted in Education, Ethnic Studies

A Guide for the English Language Teacher: A Malaysian Perspective

Author: Maya Khemlani David
Format: Paperback, 143 pages
Subject: Education
ISBN: 9789833782093
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2007
Price: RM18.00


“This book is based on my experience as a language teacher for over twenty years and some of the chapters have been adapted and revised from early research papers and articles. This book starts with a description of the socio-historical backdrop of language policies in multilingual, multiracial Malaysia. Having to cater to national, international and diverse ethnic interests has not been an easy task vis-a-vis language policies but a vigilant government has ensured that policies changed and change with changing scenarios and demands. Keeping aligned with evolving needs is necessary as languages empower individuals and nations to progress both socially and economically.

While this book covers many topics and suggests some important issues in language teaching, it also acknowledges that there are many other means of effective language teaching which have not been discussed. There is no one correct way of teaching second or foreign languages and we must be eclectic in our teaching. I hope that my experiences will be of benefit to language teachers.”

Posted in Education, English Books

Language & Nation Building: A Study of the Language Medium Policy in Malaysia

Author: Alis Puteh
Format: Paperback, 239 pages
Subject: Social Studies
ISBN: 9789833782016
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2006
Price: RM23.00


This book constitutes a very good read as it has reverently recorded the history of the implementation of the national language policy, i.e. the Malay language as the medium of instruction in the Malaysian education system. This book can be briefly described as containing three main sections, which are:

1. The history of medium of instruction policy in the Malaysian education system.

2. The implementation process and its challenges from 1970-1983.

3. The implementation of English language policy in the Malaysian education system.

The effect of globalisation has caused many developing countries to adopt and use English in teaching Science and Mathematics in primary and secondary schools. Even though this policy implementation would normally go against the regulations set by the United Nations, academic research findings, as well as the voice of the large proportion of the populace, this policy has been forced upon the people by the directives from the leaders who blindly put their faith in this language. This can be witnessed to be happening in Malaysia, Africa, Philippines, Hong Kong, and ex-communist countries like Romania, Bulgaria and others. — Datuk Dr Hassan Ahmad

Posted in Education, English Books, Social Studies

An Education System Worthy of Malaysia

Author: M. Bakri Musa
Format: Paperback, 307 pages
Subjects: Education, Social Studies
ISBN: 9789832535065
Publisher: SIRD
Published: 2003
Price: RM50.00

Malaysia’s highly centralized and tightly controlled system of education fails in educating an integrating the young. It is also ill suited for a plural society.

Instead of the present rigid and uniform system, the writer calls for one that is flexible and diverse, but with a core commonality. There should also be private sector participation competition and spur innovation.

Achieving this requires changing the ministry of education from one obsessed with strict top-down command, to a more democratized model with power and responsibilities delegated to the periphery. The minister is less a drill sergeant barking out orders to his raw recruits but more of a symphony conductor coaxing the best out of his skilled musicians.

The reforms suggested here will make Malaysians fluently bilingual in Malay and English, science literate, and mathematically competent as well as foster a common Malaysian identity.

Posted in Education, English Books, Social Studies