DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement (4 April 1973):
1) DAP Repeats Call for Royal Commission of Inquiry into the High Rate of Failure of Non- Malay Students in MCE Bahasa Malaysia and continued High Rate of Failures in Maths and Science by Malay Students
The announcement by the Minister of Education Dato Hussein Onn that the Government would not award conditional pass to the 14,166 candidates who failed last year’s MCE examinations solely because of failures in Bahasa Malaysia paper is regrettable. It must have come as a great blow and disappointment to decisive sections of the population who had hoped that the Minister of Education and the Alliance Government would take liberal, broadminded and statesman-like attitude on this important matter.
The argument that the regulations governing the award of MCE, fixed by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate does not allow the award of conditional passes, in unacceptable. These rules are “man-made” and can be “man-unmade”. There are, in this instance, cogent and overpowering reasons why special exceptions should be made, for an open, thorough and impartial inquiry would definitely reveal that the majority of the 14,166 students are not to be blamed for the failure in the Bahasa Malaysia paper.
Thousand of brilliant and conscientious students, who have tried their level best in Bahasa Malaysia paper, supported by excellent school performance and record of their attainment in this subject, failed in the MCE examinations. Something is not only radically wrong with the education and teaching of Bahasa Malaysia to non-Malay students in Malaysian schools, but in the examinations and marking of the Bahasa Malaysia paper as well.
It is not good enough for the Minister to give a promise that he would look into the possibility of retaining all the 1972 MCE/ SPM failures. There is an irrefutable case that the students who failed because of Bahasa Malaysia alone must be awarded conditional passes and those who would otherwise have qualified for HSC please be allowed to proceed to pre-University classes provided they repeat the paper.
However, it is good to see that the Minister of Education has heeded our protest and condemnation of the obnoxious rule that he drew up recently, giving priority and preference to students who totally failed the examinations in discriminating against students who get destinations’ but failed merely in Bahasa Malaysia.
Whether all the MCE/ SPM failures, which are estimated to total 25,000, will actually be given places for retention is a course still to be seen, especially even now, many National-type Secondary Schools do not have enough teachers for the classes for subjects required to the taught in Bahasa Malaysia although one school term has ended.
The statement by the Minister of Education that he would investigate into the facilities available for teaching of Bahasa Malaysia for various schools to see whether it should be further improved is unbelievably and totally unsatisfactory.
This is not the first time that thousands of brilliant and conscientious students have been failed and their future wreaked because of Bahasa Malaysia failure. Over the last 3 years over 30,000 students have become victims of the Government MCE education and examination system.
A system which every year failed over 10,000 brilliant and conscientious students cannot be accepted by the people as a just and fair one.
2) Leader of Opposition to Call Meeting of all Opposition Member of Parliament to discuss MCE failures
There is an imperative need for a public inquiry into the causes of the high rate of Bahasa Malaysia failures by non-Malay students. Such an inquiry should also look into the continued high rate of failures in Maths and Sciences by Malay students as both these subjects hold the key to the modernization of the rural people. If the Alliance Government has nothing to hide, there is no reason why it should fight shy of establishing such an Inquiry. After all a Parliamentary Commission had been established to look X-films., and it is no doubt that the education of our children is of oven more paramount importance.
The DAP will continue to press inside and outside Parliament for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the MCE originations system and the award of conditional passes to all those failed mainly because of Bahasa Malaysia.
As Ketua Pembangkang, I propose calling a meeting of Opposition MPs when Parliament reconvenes on 17th April, 1973 to discuss this very vital question which concerns not only the education of our children but their entire future.
Finally, I want to repeat my call to the Minister of Education that until such time as the MCE educations system is overhauled so that no brilliant and conscientious students can fail in Bahasa Malaysia, the Government should postpone indefinitely the introduction of the Oral Bahasa Malaysia test in MCE, which is scheduled to begin this year.