Independent secondary schools: closure threat by Inche Khir Johari and Mr Lee Siok Yew

The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr Lim Kit Siang, today (29.7.68) issued the following press statement :

Yesterday, the Assistant Minister of Education, Mr. Lee Siok Yew, repeated the warning of the Minister of Education, Inche Khir Johari, that independent secondary schools will be closed down if communist influence in them are not removed.

He claimed that the government has discovered that there had been communist infiltration in the independent secondary schools of four states, namely Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Penang and Perak.

It was further revealed by Inche Khir Johari that the fate of independent secondary schools will be decided at meeting of State Chief Education Officers in Alor Star on August 5 and 6.

We are deeply concerned by these threats of Inche Khir Johari and Mr. Lee Siok Yew.

If there are communist elements in independent, or for that matter any schools, and the government is aware of the students involved,then it is the government’s duty to take suitable action against these elements.

But under no circumstances can there be justification for the closure of schools to get rid of undesirable elements.

We must always make a clear distinction between security and educational problems.

The problem of communist infiltration in schools is not an education problem, but a security problem, and as such must be dealt with by the security authorities in this country.

The meeting of the State Chief Education Officers should properly concern itself as to how to help independent secondary schools improve their standards of teaching, and other educational aspects. It is no business of State C.E.Os to decide whether to close down independent secondary schools or not.

To mix up security and education will be to set a dangerous precedent. It is fortunate that Inche Khir Johari and Mr. Lee Siok Yew had not the same ideas when Singapore was in Malaysia, otherwise that Nanyang University would have been closed down for the same reason that there had been “communist influence” in the campus.

The problem of communist influence in secondary schools is not a new one. It is large extent tied down to the overall socio-economic-political problems in the country. But the solution Inche Khir Johari and Mr. Lee Siok Yew are advocating is a new one – in that it is a final solution to do away completely with independent secondary schools.

One wonders whether the true intention is actually to abolish independent secondary schools – and that Inche Khir Johari and Mr. Lee Siok Yew’s speeches were preparing for such a development.

If this is the intention, it must be strongly deplored and condemned, because it strikes at the root of private contribution to education.

Inche Khir Johari had lamented many time that the public are not making sufficient private contribution to education. But here are private contributions to education in independent secondary schools which the government is seeking to abolish. Furthermore, when private efforts to form a Merdeka University was broached, it is attacked and condemned by the government. But when the MCA sponsored a college, patterned exactly after the Merdeka University, the government immediately gave its blessing, promised to recognize its degrees and to give grants.

We urge the government to give careful consideration to this matter of independent secondary schools , and not take precipitate action.

The best course is for the Ministry to convene a meeting of all principals and chairman of boards of governors of independent secondary schools, and discuss the problem of communist infiltration.

There is no reason why such a high – powered meeting between officials of the independent secondary schools and government representatives could not produce a formula to remove whatever communist influence there are in schools.

If the government is genuinely concerned solely about the communist problem in schools , this is the best way to go about tackling the problem.

We commend this suggestion to Inche Khir Johari and Mr Lee Siok Yew, and stress that it is none of the business of the State C.E.O.s to decide on whether to close down independent secondary schools or not.

Audited on 2021-04-05