KAJANG, Feb 17 – The much anticipated encounter between Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim at Dong Zong’s Chinese New Year open house today failed to materialise.
Both did not meet face to face as Najib left at 10.30am, about an hour before Anwar arrived at the New Era College here.
The open house, organised by Dong Zong or the United Chinese Schools Committees Association, was supposed to provide a stage for the political foes to cross swords after both unprecedentedly agreed to attend.
Najib led a delegation of BN leaders including MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek and Gerakan chief Koh Tsu Koon and arrived 15 minutes before the event was scheduled to start.
Clad in a red Chinese jacket, Najib was immediately invited on stage for Yee Sang and to write Chinese calligraphy.
Without making a speech, the premier and BN leaders left the venue 45 minutes later with the emcee asking the crowd to give them a standing ovation.
DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and Anwar led their respective party leaders.
The opposition members was given an enthusiastic reception upon their arrival, with some of the supporters waving an edited “I Love ‘New’ PM” banners that were distributed to welcome Najib.
Interestingly, Anwar also did not make any speech as well and departed 45 minutes later at 12.15pm.
Approached by reporters, Anwar said he did not know why the encounter with Najib failed to materialise.
“I was told that he is not around. I don’t know, I was given this time to arrive, so I observed the time” he added.
It is learnt that Najib had requested not to have a speech and hence a speech session for Anwar was not included in the schedule as well.
Meanwhile, Lim described Najib’s failure to deliver any good news for the Chinese schools as a “great 56 years of disappointment”.
“It should have been an historic occasion because the Chinese community were waiting for some concrete announcements,” he added.
Ice breaking trip
Dong Zong president Yap Sin Tian, in his speech text that was not delivered, demanded the government to recognise the Chinese independent schools’ Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), and to allow setting up of Chinese independent schools branch campus in Johor Bahru, Segamat, Petaling Jaya and Puchong.
He also asked for a comprehensive review on the draft report of the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
Yap told reporters later that he had a brief exchange with Najib who promised a meeting with him after the Chinese New Year to resolve Chinese education problems.
Asked whether he was disappointed by Najib’s failure to deliver any of such demands during the event, he replied: “What do you think?”
However, he was quick to add that it was already a good start for the premier to visit Dong Zong’s premises today.
“Before this, we were labeled an extremist group. But following Najib’s visit, our role in Chinese education is at least recognised.
“We hope after the ice-breaking trip, problems plaguing Chinese education could be resolved immediately,” he said.
Yap also said he did not deliver his speech because Najib had arrived earlier than expected.