Merdeka University: Malay-ised ?

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary and Parliamentary Candidate for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, on 30th April 1969

Merdeka University: Can Tun Tan Siew Sin give an assurance that it will not be Malay-ised, as is the recommendation of Mr. Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Report, if the government join hands with its sponsors?

Tun Tan Siew Sin’s promised ‘important’ statement on the Merdeka University is a great letdown and disappointment.

Tun Tan said that ‘education is too vital a subject to be the plaything of opportunist politicians.’

Tun Tan is right, but he does not know he is condemning himself. The Merdeka University is a genuine educational institution, launched by educationists who have the welfare of the educational needs of our children at heart. It is the MCA which is guilty of trying to make ‘education a political plaything’ when it tried to counter the Merdeka University with a Tunku Abdul Rahman College.

Everyone knows that the Tunku Abdul Rahman College is politically motivated. Even the UMNO leader and Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Inche Senu Bin Abdul Rahman, has confessed this last august when he addressed the Perlis Utara UMNO youth division. Inche Senu said: “In establishing the college (Tunku Abdul Rahman college), the MCA, which was a partner in the Alliance, is trying to win back Chinese support after the rejection of the Merdeka University proposed by certain communalistic elements.

“UMNO is duty-bound to support the MCA and prevent it from being weakened.”

This is a clear admission that the Tunku Abdul Rahman College is not motivated by educational concern, but by the MCA’s concern to win votes! Who then is guilty of making ‘education a political plaything’?

Tun Tan Siew Sin’s speech is surprisingly moderate, is great contrast to his speeches and statements on the subject in the last few weeks, when he poured contempt and scorn on the sponsors and supporters of the Merdeka University, and even said that he is prepared to give the Merdeka University ten years, and bet it would not succeed. Of course, the most famous utterance of Tun Tan Siew Sin, which will go down into history, is when he said to expect the Merdeka University to succeed is like expecting ‘iron trees to produce flowers.’

But has there been a genuine change of heart, or is this moderation synthetic and artificial, just for the next 11days till Polling Day. Is Tun Tan Siew Sin burning to destroy Chinese language, education and the Merdeka University after May 10?

Tun Tan Siew Sin has invited the sponsors of the Merdeka University to join the MCA and the government in setting up a national university.

Can Tun Tan Siew Sin give a public assurance that if this takes place, the Merdeka University will not be Malay-ised, as is the education policy of the Alliance government as laid down in Mr. Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Report – which wants to Malay-ised all schools and institutions in Malaysia.

I am convinced that if the government and MCA lay their hands on the Merdeka University, without clear-out safeguards, within a few years the Merdeka University will become Malay University.

Already, all Chinese, Tamil and English primary and secondary schools are being forced to become Malay schools. By 1971, there won’t be any more English primary schools. I am sure Chinese primary schools will die even sooner.

Similarly, so long as Mr. Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Education Report remains the Alliance blue-print in education, the Alliance will continue to destroy all other language schools and institutions not in the Malay media.

I am personally of the view that Tun Tan’s offer to the sponsors of the Merdeka University to join the MCA and Government in setting up a national university is worth consideration if Tun Tan Siew Sin and the Alliance can give an assurance that such a university will not be ‘Malay-ised’

This assurance must be given in the form of the repeal of the notorious and infamous Mr. Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Report.

Because unless the Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Report is repealed and rejected, no verbal assurance is good enough.

The rejection of the Abdul Rahman Talib Report will also prove to the people that the Alliance government will not Malay-ise all schools and educational institutions in Malaysia.

Can Tun Tan Siew Sin give this assurance, and get the Alliance to reject and abandon Koh Kim Leng’s Abdul Rahman Talib Report?