Press Statement by DAP Secretary General and MP for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, on 14 Feb 1973:
DAP condemns Malacca Police for banning discussion of government refusal to recognise Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle-Eastern university degrees and qualifications at DAP public rally in Malacca on Sunday, 18th Feb
I am shocked to learn today that the Malacca police has banned the discussion of the question of government refusal to accord recognition to Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle-Eastern university degrees and qualifications at DAP public rally in Malacca on Sunday, 18th Feb 1973
DAP officials in Malacca were told that the police would give a permit for the Sunday night rally on two conditions:
(1) No mobile announcements about the holding of the rally; and
(2) The question of recognition of Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle Eastern university degrees and qualifications cannot be raised for it is ‘sensitive’.
It is clear that the Malacca Police has failed to act as an impartial and fair organisation with the sole purpose of upholding law and order, without subjects to political influences or considerations.
The imposition of the first condition was to try to ensure that the minimal number of people come to know of the rally, as a large rally crowd will be to the detriment of the ruling parties, in particular the Malacca MCA, for the Malacca MCA and in particular its chairman, Datuk Tan Cheng Swee, knows that at the Sunday rally, the DAP will expose the maladministration and misdeeds of the ruling party.
The imposition of the second condition is even more arbitrary and high-handed. The Malacca Police have acted outside its powers in banning the public discussion of a grave national issue, concerning the future and fate of over 10,000 Malaysians who hold degrees and diplomas from Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle Eastern universities and yet continue to be discriminated against by the government for over a decade.
When the government in December last year announced its refusal to accord recognition to Nantah and Formosan degrees and qualification, it said that this was guided by ‘national interest’.
It is clear that this ‘national interest’ was nothing more than UMNO interest. The top MCA leadership, which gave full support to this Cabinet decision, now want this issue to be classified as ‘sensitive’ and banned from public discussion.
Unable to convince the people of the rightness of the cabinet decision to refuse recognition to Nantah and Formosan degrees and qualifications, the MCA leaders want these subjects to be buried by high-handed and undemocratic methods.
The DAP condemns the Malacca Police for getting involved in politics, and condemns the Alliance Government, in particular the MCA, for resorting to such undemocratic and arbitrary methods to deny the people the freedom of speech and opinion.
In this connection, I call on the Malacca Police to explain how the public discussion and disagreement with the Alliance Government decision to refuse to accord recognition to Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle Eastern university degrees and qualifications can jeopardise the peace in the country.
Are those who have the courage and social conscience to oppose the government discrimination against holders of Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle Eastern university degrees and qualifications to be soon classified as ‘subversives’, ‘anti-nationals’ and put in jail?
One of the objectives of the Feb. 18th rally in Malacca is to protest against the government discrimination against Malaysians who possess Nantah, Formosan, Indian and Middle Eastern degrees and qualification.
This is, however, not the only objective. It is also an occasion for the DAP to tell the people about the corruption, mal-administration, inefficiency, social injustice, educational backwardness, economic inequality in the country.
The DAP Malacca will go on with its 18th Feb rally, which will symbolise the people’ s protest against government discrimination against Nantah, Formosan, Middle Eastern and Indian degrees.
We will also expose the misdeeds of the Alliance, in particular the MCA control of the Malacca Municipality, the arbitrary increase in the land rates by the Malacca State Government, and a whole host of burning political, economic, social, educational and cultural issues in the country.
The Malacca Police, Alliance and the MCA will be sorely mistaken if they think that they can check the growing consciousness of the people against social injustices by banning public discussion. Tyrants and dictators have tried in the ages past, and all have failed.