The East can never be as good as the West?
University of Malaya professor Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim is patriotic. I have no doubt in it.
However, he is patriotic does not mean that I am not.
Such a logic is simple enough.
Similarly, to achieve national unity, it is not necessary to study in national primary schools while studying in Chinese primary schools does not mean that we are not able to unite.
I do not really have much interests in the controversy between Khoo and Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong. But some of Khoo's arguments and logic have confused me. For example, I found it strange when he said that Chinese education is not a formula to unite the people as it is contrary to Western education system.
What did he mean by that? Did he mean to say that Chinese education has undermined national unity? Or did he mean to stress that only Western education system can unite the people?
If he was referring to undermining the national unity, the culprit should be those who were engaged in the cow-head demonstrations and arson attacks on churches, as well as extremists who kept the "pendatang (immigrant) theory" in mind. How could he blame Chinese education?
If he wanted to say that Western education system can unite the people, then does his subconscious think that the East can never be as good as the West?
Yes, the modern education system is basically originated from the West. But where is the examination system of the Western education system, which is highly praised by Khoo, originated from?
As early as 100 years ago, Sun Yat-sen had pointed out that the current examination system is almost learned from the British. However, the British examination system is actually originated from China.
In fact, the Western academia has long recognised that the current Western civil service system is originated from the Chinese imperial examination system.
I found this from Google: The influence of Chinese imperial examination system on Western countries can be traced back to the latter half of the 16th century. The Chinese imperial examination system was first introduced to the West by two Portuguese friars Gaspar da Cruz and Gonza Mendoza. In his book Treatise on Things Chinese, the former highly praised the practice of selecting government officials through the imperial examination system in China while the latter gave a detailed description of the examination's methods and content in his book. The two books have affected European countries to imitate China and establish their own civil service examination systems.
Indeed, from today's perspective, the imperial examination system is outdated. But it advocates fair competition and merit-based admission. The spirit of opening the civil power to the public is no doubt more advantageous compared to the old aristocracy, hierarchy and monarchy systems of the West.
Khoo should not conclude that Chinese education is narrow-minded and outdated by saying only that "Chinese education is contrary to Western education system". As an historian, he should understand the above-mentioned historical facts better than us. He should also tell us that there is no single perfect education system in the world but there is an education systems that suits us the most. And a good education system does not sit idle. It will not be complacent and conservative. Instead, it will continue learning from others, constantly enriching and improving itself.
I do not think the so called "one type of school" suggested by Khoo can really help to achieve the goal of national unity as the big environment has not yet possessed the conditions of equality, liberality and democratic maturity. Meanwhile, those who are in power are still unable to give up schools as the battlefield of ideology and the "ultimate goal" of political subordination!
(By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)