Teachers and Politics

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr.Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Selangor State Committee meeting at Kuala Lumpur DAP Branch premises on Sunday, 5.1.69 at 10a.m.

The Ministry of Education has sacked Inche Kassim Ahmad, national chairman of Party Rakyat, as a graduate teacher of Sekolah Abdullah Munshi in Penang.

It is clear that Inche Kassim Ahmad’s dismissal was because of his activity in an opposition party. If Inche Kassim Ahmad’s had been active in the UMNO, say as Penang UMNO Chairman, he would never have been sacked.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers who are active UMNO, MCA and MIC members and ward leaders, whose political activity are not only encouraged by the ruling party, but who have been awarded P.P.M.s and other titles for their ‘contributions’ to the Alliance.

These Alliance teachers can never be wrong, and are given a blank cheque to do what they want.

But teachers who wish to join and be active in opposition parties are harassed, intimidated and even victimized by the Ministry of Education.

For instance, teachers applying for permission to be active in the Alliance are immediately given approval, while teachers who wish to be active in opposition parties are made to wait for months without even an acknowledgement from the Ministry.

The sacking of Inche Kassim Ahmad highlights the double standard and hollowness of the Alliance professions about democracy.

Let us consider another instance. If Mr.Sim Moh Yu, a Malacca school principle, and former MCA Deputy Youth Leader, had now taken an active part in opposition politics after his expulsion from the MCA, I am sure he would have been sacked already. Yet when he was in MCA he was given full liberty to take part in active and national politics, without danger to his livelihood.

Is this the meaning of democracy under the Alliance regime?

The Alliance has only paid lip-service to the growth of the democratic spirit and way of life. But all its actions have been to stunt the growth of the democratic spirit, and to strangle slowly to death the democratic way of life in this country. Its double standards in the question of teachers and politics is one instance. Its present proposal to freeze by-elections by tampering with the Constitution is another.

The DAP wants the government regulation requiring all teachers to seek prior permission before taking an active part in politics to be scrapped and abolished, because the regulation is being used to encourage teachers to take part in Alliance politics and discourage teachers from taking part in opposition politics.

Every teacher has a fundamental right to take part in the political process of the country. All that a teacher who wishes to take an active part in politics, whether in the Alliance or the opposition, should be required to do, is to inform the Ministry of his intentions.

Of course, teachers found neglecting or hindering their teaching duties can and should be dealt with in the normal disciplinary fashion for dereliction of duty. But this applies to all teachers, regardless of their party affiliations.