Revisiting Kuen Cheng High School dispute: contestation between gender equality and ethnic nationalism discourses
POR Heong Hong
By contextualizing the birth of modern Chinese women's education as well as Kuen Cheng Girls' High School (KCGHS) in the ethno nationalistic movement in pre-independence years, and revisiting the dispute over changing KCGHS into a co-education establishment in the Chinese education movement background in the post-independence era, this paper illustrates the paradox of Chinese ethno nationalism, that took expression in modernization since its inception. The dispute over converting Kuen Cheng also shows how women's education, a product of Chinese ethno nationalism as expressed in modernization and an appeal for equal treatment, has unexpectedly become a drive for democratization, equal treatment and pluralization from within the Chinese education movement in the post-independence era, and thus makes the idea of gender equality not incompatible with ethno nationalism and Chinese education.
Heong-Hong Por grew up in Malaysia and received her Masters degree from the Institute of Health and Welfare Policy, National Yang Ming University of Taiwan. She then moved back to Malaysia and joined the Media Studies Department at the New Era College, a product of the Chinese education movement in Malaysia, in Kajang Town, 2002. She is now a lecturer and researcher at the Malaysian Center for Ethnic Studies of New Era. With her multi-disciplinary concern, Por has written a number of papers, including media message analysis, Malaysian healthcare politics and gender politics. She has also been active in movements for media independence, gender equality and social democratization. Her bilingual background allows her to look into the specificity of the Chinese speaking community and situate it into a wider mixed-ethnic/lingual background of Malaysian context.