KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given his assurance that Chinese primary schools in the country are here to stay.
"Do not worry about the SJKC (vernacular Chinese schools), they come under the Federal Constitution and laws in the country.
"All I asked is that you all must put in effort in learning Bahasa Malaysia," Mr Najib who is also Barisan Nasional chairman said when opening the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) 61st annual general assembly on Sunday.
Mr Najib, who received a standing ovation and thunderous applause from the MCA central delegates, had used MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as a good example of a multilingual person for the Chinese to emulate.
"Liow has just delivered his entire speech in Bahasa Malaysia.
"He studied in a Chinese school," Mr Najib said to another big applause from the delegates.
Mr Najib's assurance on safeguarding the rights of Chinese education is deemed timely.
Petaling Jaya Utara Umno division deputy chairman Mohamad Azli Mohemed Saad had said recently that a resolution to abolish Chinese primary schools should be brought up at the Umno general assembly next month.
Mohamad Azli's statement, which MCA leaders had described as seditious, had caused much unhappiness and anxiety among the Chinese community.
Earlier, in his speech at the opening of the MCA AGM, Mr Liow reiterated that the party would continue to defend and develop Chinese education and Chinese schools in the country, as well as protect the rights of every race in the country to study their mother tongue.
Mr Najib in his speech also endorsed the MCA's Transformation Plan under Liow's leadership to rejuvenate and revitalise the 65-year-old party.
"I support the current leadership. MCA under Liow has got back its sense of direction.
"The future of MCA depends on unity in the party," Mr Najib stressed.
Mr Liow, 53, was elected as the 12th MCA president in December last year.