HONG KONG - Chinese education in Malaysia plays a crucial role in nurturing multi-lingual citizens as well as strengthening a firm footing in the global arena, says Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
At the Ninth World Chinese Economic Summit (WCES) 2017 here, the Transport Minister said Malaysia was one of the few multiracial countries that stressed the importance of Chinese education.
“Our national Chinese primary and secondary schools, which are open to students of any race, allow the younger generation to access multi-lingual education at an early age,” he said.
“Today, Malaysian expats are in high demand, particularly from the Chinese diaspora.”
Liow, who is also MCA president, told guests at the WCES’ opening that it was Malaysia’s multiracial heritage that placed the nation in a unique position to forge mutually beneficial partnerships with neighbours and allies.
The two-day WCES, organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), aims to enhance connectivity and business linkages between China and South-east Asia, as well as China and Europe, in line with China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Themed “Managing Global Uncertainty: Exploring New Opportunities”, this year’s WCES saw 110 speakers from 30 countries enlighten participants.
With China emerging as a driving global force, Liow said Chinese communities worldwide were experiencing greater intra- and inter-regional collaboration.
“For Malaysia, I am proud to say that this collaborative spirit has benefited not only the Malaysian Chinese community but all fellow Malaysians,” he said.
Speaking to journalists later, Liow said being multi-lingual was Malaysia’s strength in connecting with the global Chinese diaspora to promote its economy.
A thorough understanding of Chinese culture through Chinese education would also allow ease of communication with China, he added.
“We want to ensure that this kind of moderate and inclusive environment in Malaysia continues to prosper,” he said.
In his speech, Asli chief executive officer and WCES chairman Tan Sri Michael Yeoh quoted Chinese vice-president Li Yuanchao as saying that 60% of investments into China came from the global Chinese diaspora.
“English poet Rudyard Kipling said ‘East is East, and West is West.’ But Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative has proven that wrong,” Yeoh said.
“The East and West are drawing closer and Xi’s Belt and Road will enhance China’s link with Europe, Central Asia, Africa and Southeast Asia.”