Press Statement by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, on 20 March 1973:
DAP shocked by the mass failures in last year’s M.C.E. examination and call for a public inquiry to ascertain the reasons for close to 10,000 students failing in the examination merely because of failure in the Bahasa Malaysia subject
The DAP joins the parents and the public in our shock at the high rate of mass failures in last year’s M.C. E. examination.
The result of major English and Chinese schools, which had traditionally maintain very high standards, is particularly unbelievable. Thus, in Penang, St. Xavier’ s institution had a pass rate of 26 per cent; Methodist Boys School 27.1 per cent; Penang Free School 57 per cent.
In Kuala Lumpur, Jalan Cockrane English School scored 28.3 percent passes, Bukit Bintang Boys School in Petaling Jaya, 30 percent; Assunta Convent in Petaling Jaya 58 percent, Methodist Boys’ School, 62 percent.
One of the best schools in Perak, St. Michael’s Institution has the shocking result of only 17.4 percent passes. In Malacca, Malacca High School has 57 per cent passes.
There is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of these failures are because of failure in the Bahasa Malaysia subjects. In fact, it has become a yearly ritual for close to 10,000 students to fail the M.C.E. examination, just because of their failure in Bahasa Malaysia subject, although they have scored well and even several distinctions in others subjects.
I have never been able to understand why every year, thousands of students, who distinguished themselves in difficult subjects like mathematics and science, yet cannot get a pass in a comparatively easier subject like Bahasa Malaysia.
The official reason which the Minister of Education has given in Parliament for this, that the students did not pay sufficient attention to Bahasa Malaysia, does not bear up to examination, because the students know that failure in this subject means failure in the whole examination.
For the last few years, parents and the public have become very disenchanted by the examination and education system in the country, which every year fails 10,000 students although they have done well in other subjects.
I call on the Ministry of Education to tell the public how many thousands of M.C.E. candidates who failed in last year’ s examination scored distinctions in other subjects.
It is an education system which has gone berserk where every year we read of students scoring several distinctions, even seven distinctions, who cannot get a certificate. I will like to know how many distinctions in the M.C.E. examination each Cabinet Minister has scored in their school days.
Yet today, students with several distinctions, academically more competent that the Cabinet Ministers of today, are deliberately failed and their future lighted.
The DAP calls for a public inquiry into the entire M.C.E. examination system, as there are many questions which the government must answer to the public and parents and students.
Until such an inquiry, the DAP calls on the Minister of Education to award certificates to all those who would have passed the M.C.E. but for their failures in Bahasa Malaysia, and let them sit for this paper at the end of this year.
These students should not have to lose one year to repeat the M.C.E because of the inefficiencies, incompetence and injustice of the present education and examination system.
The DAP calls for an immediate and urgent government action to put an end to the present wasteful education and examination system, which is producing every year a more and more unjust society.
The government must not only be fair and just to all groups, communities and races, but must be seen to be fair and just, if it is to win the hearts and minds of all Malaysians regardless of race.
Unless urgent government action is taken to put an end to the disastrous examination and education system, then the people must conclude that the Second Malaysia Plan is not dedicated to a ‘Masharakat Adil’ , but to the creation and perpetuation of even more social and national injustices and inequalities.