National campaign for the repeal of the 1971 Education (Amendment) Act

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr.Lim Kit Siang, when officiating at the opening of the Chinese education exhibition organised by the Perak DAP Chinese Education Sub-Committee held at DAP Perak State headquarters at Jalan Kampar on Tuesday, 24 July 1973 at 9a.m.

Call on Chinese educational bodies to launch a national movement to campaign for the repeal of the 1971 Education (Amendment) Act which abolished the powers of School Boards of Management

Chinese education is at the final critical phase of its existence in Malaysia, and it behooves all Malaysians who cherish Chinese education to bestir themselves to take their place in the frontline of the defence and advancement of the fine tradition and heritage of Chinese education.

Verbal support and more good intentions which make interesting reading and good publicity cannot check or reverse the strong current against which Chinese education is struggling against. Only actual deeds and dynamic endeavour can salvage for Chinese education her rightful place in the country.

For the past one month, the Kampung Bercham Chinese Primary School affair has highlighted the predicament about the future of Chinese education and schools in the country.

The DAP has made our opposition to the sending of a person who does not know Chinese to be the principal of a Chinese school clear and unequivocal. In fact, I have raised this matter in Parliament, and when the Perak Director of Education two days ago announce his refusal to accede to the wishes of the parents and public, send a cable to the Minister of Education, Dato Hussein Onn, asking for his intervention.

The Kampung Bercham affair, however, is merely a symptom of a disease, and it will be a self-defeating to mistake the symptom for the disease. For unless the disease is eliminated, whether a symptom is temporarily dealt with, the whole problem remains and will recur, in more malignant forms in future date.

It is essential therefore to understand how the Kampung Bercham affair came about.

The root cause of the Kampung Bercham affair is the enactment by Parliament in 1971 of an amendment to Education Act, abolishing the powers of the School Boards of Management.

It was obvious to all that incidents like the Kampung Bercham affair are bound to occur with the enactment of the 1971 Education Amendment Act.

The DAP was the only political party in Parliament which vehemently opposed the 1971 Education Amendment Act. All the MCA leaders, including Tun Tan Siew Sin, Mr.Lee San Choon, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, Dr.Lim Keng Yaik, voted for the amendment, knowing the future consequences of the measure.

The people, after over two decades of experience, have become very wary of public expressions of concern, support and sympathy when these very same persons do the very opposite in their deeds and action.

It is my firmly held view that unless the whole root problem can be tackled, the Kampung Bercham affair is only the beginning. It is more important to concentrate on the disease rather than the sympatom and the disease here is the 1971 Education (Amendment) Act.

The 1971 Education (Amendment) Act must be abolished if Chinese education is to develop freely and honourably in Malaysia.

I urge all Chinese educational bodies to get together and launch a national movement to campaign for the repeal of the 1971 Education (Amendment) Act and to restore to the Boards of Managements their powers of hire and fire and school administration.

Let all political parties in the country declare their stand whether they will support such a movement.