Sin Ming primary school – A story of toil and struggle
Education is considered the most important issue in the history of Chinese Malaysians over the past 60 years, beginning as early as 1920 when Chinese education first came under scrutiny.
Later in 1952, the passage of the Education Ordinance drew strong criticisms from the Chinese Press and teachers who claimed that Chinese education was virtually reduced to a position of a “prisoner to be condemned”.
The early Chinese education issue created a crisis of “lost roots” amongst intellectuals and a movement to protect them.
It was a long struggle with the authorities on the Chinese dream to be accepted as legitimate.
They were Malaysian citizens with the hope of being educated in their mother tongue and protecting Chinese education as the bastion of the community’s culture.
While Chinese-language education continues to be a sensitive issue even till today despite a century of friction in establishing values and a sense of identity, politics and Chinese education is still an intractable issue.
Chinese education’s roots are very deep and party watchers viewed Pakatan leadership making inroad into Puchong’s SJK Sin Ming as a timely and brilliant move to assist more of such Chinese and Tamil schools in their development progress at a time when the recession will affect them financially.
At most Chinese medium primary schools, the government pays teachers’ salaries and regular expenses, while the board of trustees is responsible for operating expenses, physical maintenance, expansion of facilities, etc.
The huge expense of running these primary schools has long been a big burden for the Chinese community and the history of SJK Sin Ming is typical and run parallel to many other such schools in the country.
Closure of tin mines affected school
In 1986, a coffee shop owner Goh Cheng Chew from Selangor bought two small buses from funds he raised and personally drove one of the buses to fetch students daily at 5.30am from surrounding areas to SJK Sin Ming in Puchong.
As chairman of the school board, Goh also had to launch a personal campaign to enroll students thus ensuring a minimum number of students.
He had to keep the school afloat, threatened by the closure of nearby tin mines with residents moving away from the area and causing a diminishing number of local students.
His passion for education and determination to succeed for the good of the community kept him going and helped to lay a firmer foundation for the school’s future.
Many of the school’s parents and students were told of Goh’s personal sacrifices and his dedication towards Sin Ming.
Goh’s contribution to the school is a touching story of an ordinary Malaysian who had made extraordinary efforts to keep Chinese education alive particularly in the outer areas of Puchong.
In fact, the Sin Ming primary school and the unsung heroism of Goh is very much a part of the evolving history and development of Chinese education in other schools throughout the country.
Established in 1934, Sin Ming was closed down in 1954 due to financial difficulties. It was reopened in 1956 and became SRJK Sin Ming.
The years 1986-1994 saw critical efforts to raise funds for the school’s development. It was only in 1994 when a major fund-raising campaign enabled the school, with only 160 students, to re-start the school rebuilding process.
It was in 1992-3 when the school board set up its development committee headed by its chairman Yuen Khon Yuan and adviser Soh Chee Wen.
Having completed phase I and II expansion programme in the respective years of 1996 and 2005, the enrolment has reached the maximum capacity of 1,700 students including 99 non-Chinese students.
An outstanding role model
Unless phase 3 is completed by 2012 to cater for its future intake of 2,500, the school would have to turn away hundreds of students every year.
The history of Chinese education for the past centuries in the country is a synonymous tale of untold toil, struggle and hardship by little known individuals within the Chinese educationist movement who have been carrying their Chinese education in their minds and Chinese blood in their veins.
Chinese educationist Sim Mow Yu was an outstanding role model for his contribution towards Chinese education whom parliamentary Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim paid tribute at last Sunday’s fund-raising launching event at SJK Sin Ming in Puchong, Selangor.
“Our dear friend, Sim Mow Yu is a man who shared the same commitment and dedication to children’s education. His work is an example for all Malaysians. His spirit and legacy of his great service to his people and to the nation echoes around us today; and we mark his contribution with a moment of silence,” Anwar said at the school gathering.
Referring to the former headmaster and chairman of the school board, the late Goh Cheng Chew, Anwar said: “There is a mark of heroism in his sacrifice, and yet a certain sadness comes with it as well.
“In a country as rich as ours, why do we leave people to fend for themselves in providing what is, I believe, the birthright of every child.
“The young children we see today are our hope for tomorrow. The values of racial tolerance, unity and fraternity must be inculcated early in life.
“I have been fortunate to have been taught by good teachers, guided by great writers, among them Han Yu San, whose words I remember well: ‘Within four seas, all men are brothers’.
“For all these reasons, the Selangor state government under Pakatan has declared that education shall be the pillar of its state government development policy,” Anwar said.
There are about 1,293 Chinese primary schools and 60 Chinese-medium independent secondary schools currently in the country. Mkini