The Merdeka University

Talk by Organising Secretary of DAP, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to the Sungei Besi DAP Branch on Tuesday, 23rd April 1968 at 8.30 p.m.

The Merdeka University

The Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, and the Minister of Local Government and Housing, Inche Khaw Khai Boh, have condemned the proposed Merdeka University as a “chauvinistic and communalistic” project.

It is necessary, therefore, to take a closer look at the project.

Convenors of the Merdeka University have make it very clear that entries to the University would not be confined to students of one race, nor would the medium of instruction be confined to one language, but would embrace Chinese, Malay and English.

Is this a racial project, which does not confine itself to one racial group? Is it in the same class as outright racialist projects, like the UMNO, the MCA, the MIC, the MARA College or the Malay Regiment?

The Merdeka University was mooted by Chinese educational authorities to find an outlet for products from the Chinese education stream, especially after the Alliance Government had slammed the door of opportunity for students to proceed to Nanyang University and the Formosan Universities to pursue further studies.

It had always been our view that the problem of finding employment outlets for products of Chinese education stream, the Nanyang University and Formosan Universities, – this holds with equal force for students from other language education streams, and graduates from Indian, Indonesian, Middle East and other University – is a national problem, and not a racial problem, because the frustrated unemployed and outcasts will pose a threat to the peace and harmony of Malaysia.

The Alliance government and the MCA, however, have always regarded this as a problem which the Chinese community should solve itself. Hence, no effort to genuinely solve the problem of graduates from Nanyang and Formosan universities, either by retraining them or recognizing their qualifications.

A far-sighted government would have instituted an integrated education system, where a child can learn Malay, the common Malaysian language, his own mother tongue, and English, the language of science – with students of all races under one roof.

But no, neither the Razak nor the Talib education reports were far-sighted nor enlightened enough to provide for this.

It is a credit to the convenors of the Merdeka University project that they had not confined themselves to students from one racial group, but had widened their outlook to include Malaysian students of all racial groups and languages.

This is an opportunity for the Alliance government to give support to the Merdeka University, and help the convenors turn it into a genuinely multi-racial and multi-lingual university, for all Malaysian sons and daughters.

So long as the Merdeka University is pledged to a policy of multi-racialism, and not confined to any one particular racial group or language, the Democratic Action party supports, as all sane and rational men must support it.

Tunku Abdul Rahman and some MCA leaders had proposed that instead of building the Merdeka University, the convenors should help finance a Faculty for Chinese Studies in the University of Malaya.

The Alliance leaders have lost touch with the aspirations of Malaysian youths. They do not want merely to be experts in Chinese culture, language and civilisation. They want to be scientists, technologists, engineers and professional men who can bring the scientific revolution to Malaysia.

The Merdeka University is a worthwhile project, which deserves not only the support of all Malaysians, but a responsible and responsive government.

We urge the Alliance government to put political and other considerations aside, and place national Malaysian interests before everything else, by so-operating with the convenors and supporters of the Merdeka University to make it into a high-standard and worthy Malaysian institution of higher learning.