Sunday September 23, 2012
Chinese NGOs turning their backs on rally
By Joceline Tan
Leading Chinese community leaders are worried that the personal agenda behind the 926 rally' has cast aspersions on Dong Zong and they want its chairman to call it off.
THE normally stoic Dong Zong chairman Yap Sin Tian has been on a charm campaign to salvage the Sept 26 or “926 rally”, organised with the aim of deposing Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong from his post.
Yap visited a string of Chinese language newspaper offices on Friday to drum up support for the rally.
The newspapers have not been supportive of his plans and even the country's leading Chinese NGOs have given Yap the cold shoulder.
They believe that Yap is abusing the education cause for his own personal agenda. None of these NGOs, such as Jiao Zong, the Chinese Assembly Halls and the powerful Old Boys' Alumni, are backing the rally though they aren't about to stop individual members from taking part.
They feel that Yap has gone too far in demanding Dr Wee's resignation.
The rally, scheduled to take place outside Parliament, however, has drawn support mostly from DAP and PKR politicians apart from Yap's hardcore supporters in Dong Zong.
These people know very well that the “926 rally” is basically to shore up Yap's position in the Dong Zong, but they do not seem to mind being used by Yap.
Yap is feeling the pressure as the clock ticks towards Sept 26. The once all-powerful Dong Zong chairman is used to the Chinese associations and community dancing to his tune. He has never been snubbed like this before, and so it is humiliating.
In fact, his bullying tactics have made Dr Wee a martyr in the eyes of many Chinese. They know that Dr Wee is sincere and is trying his best even if he cannot give them all that they want.
Yap has also changed his tune after realising that his mission has failed. He has even backtracked on wanting Dr Wee's resignation. He now says that the “926 rally” is to safeguard the independence of the Chinese school boards.
But even on this new line, he is unlikely to garner support as it is still basically all for selfish reasons.
Everyone in the know is aware that Yap needs to be on a school board to defend his Dong Zong chairman post and that this was how his vendetta against Dr Wee began.
Yap was ousted from the board of SRJK Jinjang Utara after a quarrel with the school's PIBG and alumni members. These members formed their own 15-person board.
Yap then came up with a rival list but could not fill the remaining six slots with the PIBG and alumni members who had boycotted him.
As such, the state education department could not accept his list, and Yap blamed Dr Wee.
Yap's highly personal agenda was also reflected in a signature campaign he launched against Dr Wee. It came with a pamphlet that carried a long essay written in Chinese that includes outlandish accusations that Dr Wee had destroyed Chinese education and done nothing for the schools.
But the actual page, where the signatures ought to be, stated in English that the campaign was to ask the Prime Minister to look into the problems of Chinese schools.
Dr Wee's supporters claimed that many signed, thinking that it was a simple appeal to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
They did not read the essay. They are now upset that Yap has stooped to such a low level to garner support for his personal agenda.
Chinese newspapers have also criticised Yap for a speech he made in Seremban last week. He had used a Hakka slang word that denoted a male private organ to describe all who supported the proposed Kuantan Chinese independent school, a project which he had been critical of.
One columnist asked: “How can the head of an education movement use such a vulgar term in a speech?”
Chinese papers have also noticed how Yap chose to travel overseas rather than attend the National Education conference to provide his input earlier this week.
But the greatest concern among the Chinese community is that Yap may have split the education cause.
Previously, Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) and Jiao Zong (Chinese School Teachers Association) would come together under the umbrella of Dong Jiao Zong to take up issues involving Chinese schools. But even Jiao Zong leaders are uncomfortable with Yap's style and have refused to cooperate with his schemes to undermine Dr Wee.
Jiao Zong chairman Ong Chiaw Chuan issued a widely reported statement saying that the “926 rally” had nothing to do with the future of Chinese education and that he, for one, would not be attending it.
It was the clearest sign of a split between the two sister groups.
Up until yesterday, various Chinese groups like Hua Zong or the Federation of Chinese Associations were still trying to coax Yap to call off the rally.
They are very concerned about the way Yap's actions has cast aspersions on an established body. But few expect the headstrong Yap to compromise.
No matter what Yap may claim, the rally is now viewed as a vendetta waged by a man with a personal agenda.
The damage has been done, regardless of whether he persists with the rally or not.
He has lost much of his credibility and any future event that he may try to organise in the name of Dong Zong will be viewed with suspicion.
It is hard to see how he can continue as Dong Zong chairman after this.
But no one in the Chinese community seems to have the courage to tell him to resign for the sake of the future of Dong Zong.