Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally in Segamat on Sunday, 24th February 1974 at 9 p.m.
1. MCA Ministers must match their words with deeds
MCA Ministers and leaders are fond of making rosy promises and grand pledges which they have no intention of fulfilling.
Two weeks ago, at a Tankang MCA Chinese New Year reception, the Minister of Health and Selangor MCA Chairman Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew, asked the people to instantly report ant instance of unfairness or injustice by any public officer.
He declared: “I guarantee that the MCA will meet the legal fees and must eliminate those public servants who wrongly administer government policy.”
I am going to take up Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew’s public invitation, so that the people in Malaysia can see whether the solemn pledges of MCA Ministers are of any worth at all.
It is universal knowledge that from July 21 to August 20 1973, because of the Malacca Hospital maladministration and negligence, many patients died of poisoning caused by the breakdown of the autoclave plant.
This is a gross injustice to the families who have lost their wage-earners, or loved ones, who needn’t have died.
On behalf of families of all these relatives who died in Malacca Hospital from July 21 to August 20 1973 as a result of autoclave poisoning, I suggest that the MCA provide the legal fees to represent them in court to sue the Malacca Hospital authorities for negligence and maladministration, and to secure government compensation.
I await Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew’s reply, and the MCA action.
2. MCA’s Mental Revolution and Chinese Unity
The MCA, which has become politically bankrupt, is now reviving two old themes in an effort to look politically progressive and dynamic.
One of these is the so-called mental revolution among the Chinese. The MCA has talked about this for the last few years, and all that they have achieved from their great publicity is a essay competition.
While I wish the best of luck to all the entrants to the competition, as the money prize will come in useful, especially in this period inflation they should not forget that their essays, no matter how excellent, will not qualify as Malaysian essay or as part of Malaysian literature. For under the Alliance cultural policy, of which the MCA is co-author, no literary work written in Chinese can qualify as Malaysian literature. Only works written in Malay will be considered as Malaysia literature.
The other theme is Chinese Unity. Malaysians Chinese can still remember how in 1971, the MCA tried to make used of the so-called Chinese Unity movement for its own political purposes.
What fascinates me is the cheek and audacity of MCA leaders, who dare to continue to talk about the need for Chinese unity, when they have no hesitation to expel Chinese politicians from the MCA, like Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and his group. Is this the MCA’s meaning of Chinese Unity?
Here is again the contrast between words and deeds.
Furthermore, if the MCA really wants to work for Chinese Unity, why don’t it merge with Parti Gerakan (especially as the other great champion of Chinese Unity, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has now joined Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s party) and the PPP, since the MCA claimed that Parti Gerakan and the PPP are basically Chinese parties and they are all now comrades-at-arms in the National Front Government?
But only a few day ago, Senator Wong Seng Chow, MCA Vice President, went to Penang and talked bravely about the MCA members being in a mood to fight all the 1969 seats contested and lost by the MCA, and criticising the Parti Gerakan.
Senator Wong was of course whistling in the dark to try to make the people think the MCA is strong and powerful. In fact, the MCA leaders should count themselves lucky if they get more than 15 Parliamentary seats to contest in the next elections. The ‘mood’ of MCA has never counted for anything in the councils of UMNO!
3. Chinese Education
With the approach of the coming general elections, MCA Ministers are now back to their old trick of misleading and confusing the public, especially on the question of Chinese education. Thus, one of the favourite statements by National leaders is that whether Chinese primary schools would be converted would depend on the Chinese themselves. What about the MCA’s role? Hasn’t it has got responsibility to stand up and articulate what the Malaysian Chinese want?
Was the MCA doing this in representing the aspirations of the Chinese when their leaders, Minister and MPs supported the 1961 Education (Amendment) Act which laid the legal basis for the conversion of Chinese primary schools?
Was the MCA speaking up for the legitimate wishes of the Chinese when their Ministers and leaders supported the 1972 Education (Amendment) Act in abolishing the Boards of Management of Chinese Schools and which laid the administrative basis for the conversion of Chinese primary schools?
Two days ago, speaking in Kulim, the Director of the MCA Education Bureau, Mr. Michael Chen, expressed the view that under present political conditions, and the international position of Chinese, the chances of development and preservation of Chinese primary schools is more bright.
I simply do not understand what Mr. Michael Chen is talking about It is true Chinese language in the international position has gained in importance following China’s admission into the United Nations. Thus Chinese has become a working language in the United Nations where all speeches and documents must compulsorily be translated into Chinese – which was not done when Formosa was in the United Nations. Furthermore, Chinese is the official language in Hong Kong.
This international development, however, does not necessarily mean the continued existence of Chinese primary schools in Malaysia.
Those who had thought that the accession to world power status on the part of China would help the let of Chinese outside China need only look at the plight of the Indonesian Chinese even now.
Whether the Chinese primary schools would withstand conversion will not depend on the position of Chinese language internationally, but on the efforts of the Malaysian Chinese.
I know that in the recent series State UMNO conventions the UMNO delegates in the various states had been pressing of conversion of Chinese primary schools.
This is not a good omen for the future of Chinese primary schools. The MCA leaders, like Mr. Michael Chen , must give the people a categorical policy statement as to how long after 1975 the Chinese primary schools would be allowed be allowed to exist, and get such policy statement endorsed by the Alliance top leadership and Cabinet.
The MCA leaders and ministers are in effect telling the Chinese: You support me first, and then I may stand up and fight for what you want. I do not guarantee it. But if you do not support me, don’t blame me if I support everything UMNO wants to do.
I leave it to the people to decide whether this is the type of political leadership and movement they want. In fact, the past elections have conclusively proved that this type of political opportunism is not wanted by the people, who want political leaders who are prepared to take a firm on principles, and pay the price for such principles, if necessary.