KOTA KINABALU: State Youth and Sports Minister Phoong Jin Zhe has expressed his disappointment to the federal leaders who have succumbed to the trap of race-based politics.
“I feel sad when I see our leaders from the Federal Government who have been trapped in the political rhetoric of race and religion. I fear that this narrow and bipolar mindset would spread to our communities,” said the Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker.
“Our leaders have labeled the Chinese education groups as racists when the Chinese themselves have their own worries.
“If we were to let this continue, then our community may be divided even more and we may not even trust each other anymore. Is this the ‘Malaysia Baharu’ that we have been dreaming of?” he asked.
Phoong, who was speaking at the Sabah State Youth Consultative Council (MPBNS) Conference yesterday, stressed that there should be no room for racism in the Malaysia Baharu era.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad caused a stir after he had described Dong Zong, the United Chinese School Committees’ Association, as racist for never agreeing with national education policies, including the introduction of Jawi calligraphy in schools.
Mahathir’s statement did not sit well with several Chinese political leaders in Sabah.
Phoong’s comrade, Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Foong Hin had also expressed his disappointment to the Prime Minister; he claimed that Mahathir ‘couldn’t see the forest for the trees’ when accusing Dong Zong of being racist.
Separately, Phoong said that the MPBNS Conference serves as an important platform for his ministry to hear the aspirations of the youths.
He explained that the biennial event functions just like the State Legislative Assembly – it serves as an assembly for the youths in Sabah.
Yesterday’s fruitful brainstorming session saw youth leaders from all over the state voice their aspirations.
In his speech, Phoong had listed out some of the major changes that his ministry had undergone – among which are the rebranding of the Sabah Youth Entrepreneur Scheme Sabah Programme Sabah (YESS) into the Sabah Youth Entrepreneurship Aspiration Programme (YEAP).
The rebranding would pave the way for more ‘start-up’ entrepreneurs to seek assistance from the State Government; the aspiring entrepreneurs will be given the opportunity to obtain ‘one-off’ grants.