Press Statement by Lim Kit Siang, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bandar Melaka on 4 July 1973:
Sending of principals and clerks who do not know Chinese to Chinese primary schools: DAP calls on Dato Hussein Onn to publicly declare government’s policy and intention
For the past week or so, the Chinese community partners, teachers and students have been greatly disturbed by the deliberate departure from policy by the Education Departments in various states in sending principles not versed in Chinese to Chinese Primary schools, as in Perak, and the despatch of large numbers of clerks who do not know Chinese to manage Chinese school affairs as in Kedah, and Selangor.
One of the reasons why the Chinese community and the Chinese educational circles unanimously opposed the 1971 Education (Amendment) Act which abolished the powers of hire and fire of the Board of Managements was the fear that the amendment will be the first practical step to change the character of Chinese primary schools without consultation and consent of the Chinese community, apart from the MCA.
It is still fresh in public memory that after vigorous opposition expressed by the Chinese educational bodies and societies. MCA leaders such as Mr.Lew Sip Hon and Mr.Alex Lee sought to alley such fears by publicly giving an anequiviocal pledge that “Chinese schools will not be touched.”
The sending of principals and clerks who do not know Chinese to Chinese primary schools make a mockery of such public assurance solemnly given, and justify the opposition to the Education Amendment Bill mounted by the DAP in Parliament.
Clause 152(1) of the Malaysian Constitution guarantees the preservation and sustenance of the use and study of Chinese in the country, and it is the duty of all parties concerned to stand up by the constitutional guarantee.
The DAP calls on the Minister of Education, Dato Hussein Onn to publicly declare the government’s policy and intention on the question of the preservation and sustenance of Chinese primary schools, and to clarify whether the recent despatch of principals and school clerks not versed in Chinese is part of his Ministry’s new policy, or whether it is an unauthorised and misinterpreted administrative action by some inferior officer.
The people has a right to know the clear-cut policy and intention of the Ministry of Education on this matter. If it is not the clear-cut policy and intention to send principals and clerks not versed in Chinese to Chinese schools, then the Minister of Education should intervene and retract all such appointments.
If it is the new policy of the Ministry of Education, then it is time that MCA, the PPP, the Gerakan and all other component parties of the National Front declare their stand.
Whatever it is, it is imperative that the people must bestir themselves to actively campaign against any action which will undermine the preservation and sustenance of Chinese primary schools, as embodies in the spirit of the Constitutional guarantee of 152(1) in the Malaysian Constitution.