DAP shocked by Education Ministry ruling that priority for retention in Form Five will be given to students who fail badly in the MCE examination

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a Public Rally in Bentong on Sunday, 14th April 1974 at 9 p.m.

1. DAP shocked by Education Ministry ruling that priority for retention in Form Five will be given to students who fail badly in the MCE examination

The DAP is shocked at the Education Ministry ruling that preference for retention in Form Five would be given to students who did in the MCE last year.

It is clear that the Ministry’s order of preference for retention of MCE students had not changed, and are as follows:

First priority to be given to candidates who failed entire MCE examination. Second priority to be given to candidates who get a but failed the MCE but not because of failure in Bahasa Malaysia;

Finally, places if available will only be offered to students who failed the MCE because of failure of Bahasa Malaysia although they have scored a string of distinctions in other subjects.

By this order of priority, a student who scored seven distinctions but failed in Bahasa Malaysia, as is the case with a student in St. Xavier’s School in Penang, will not be given a chance to repeat, while a candidate who failed all subjects will be treated with greater preference.

What type of education system is this which deliberately denies to our children, the intelligent and hardworking ones, the opportunity to basic educational qualifications?

Although the MCE examination results last year was an improvement as compared to 1972 results, where 14,400 candidates failed merely because of failure in Bahasa Malaysia, it is clear that several thousands failed in 1973 because of Bahasa Malaysia.

The Education Ministry in its recent analysis of the MCE/SPM results carefully avoided giving the public the relevant figures: (a) how many candidates in the 1973 examination failed the MCA because of failure in Bahasa Malaysia only. If this figure is a very small one, why is it necessary for the Ministry to hide it from the public. (b) Out of the 14,400 who failed the MCE in 1972 because of Bahasa Malaysia failure, how many of them failed again in the 1973 examination in their repeated attempt, again because of Bahasa Malaysia failure.

The Ministry of Education’s order of priorities for retention of Form Five students is one which cannot fond support from all right-thinking Malaysians and parents. It is an example of the unjust education system in this country, thanks to the education policy of the Alliance and the other National Front partners, like the UMNO, the MCA, the Gerakan, the PPP.

The stubborn insistence of the National Front leaders that students who failed the MCE because of Bahasa Malaysia although they have scored a string of distinctions in other subjects which they cannot improve upon must repeat the whole examination is an utter waste of time and resources of the people.

And now, such students, bright and intelligent, are to be further denied opportunities to repeat the examination, unless places could be found to the complete MCE failures, is adding insult to injury.

The Ministry of Education should immediately withdraw such ridiculous and patently unjust regulations governing the retention of Form Fivers and should give first priority and preference to students who failed the MCE merely because of failure in Bahasa Malaysia. Furthermore, the government should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the education system who determine why every year there is such high rate of MCE/SPM failures, and end the present educational wastage, abuses and injustices.

2. MCA in the worst political shape in its 25 years history

With the resignation of Tun Tan Siew Sin as MCA President as MCE President and Finance minister, the MCA is in the worst political shape in its 25 years history.

Although the MCA is theoretically the second senior partner in the Alliance and national Front government, it is in fact treated as the most junior and weakest. Thus, the Cabinet post of the leader of a component party is a good indication of that party’s standing in the Alliance.

Thus, the leader of MCA had traditionally occupied the Finance Minister’s post, which is the most senior non-Malay Cabinet post. But with Lee San Choon as the new MCA leader, the MCA’s standing in the Cabinet has fallen a thousand fathoms.

The Cabinet positions of other leaders of the National Front are more senior and important than Lee San Choon’s. Thus, the MIC President, Tan Sri Manickavasagam is the Minister for Labour and Manpower, while Dato Mohamed Asri of PAS is Minister for Housing and Local Government. Lee San Choon, MCA leader, is merely Minister for New Villages, which is in fact the most meaningless, powerless and inconsequential Ministry in the Cabinet.

In fact, Tun Sambathan, the ousted MIC President, as Minister for national Unity, gets more money for his Ministry than Lee San Choon for his New Village Ministry.

Tun Tan Siew Sin, in his farewell interview, said that if he had failed to build up a second-line leadership, it is because of the limited material he had at hand.

For MCA’s self-respect and dignity, and for what the MCA regards as the memory of their great contributions in Alliance for the 25 years, if Lee San Choon cannot get a senior Cabinet promotion immediately, he should resign his insignificant New Village Ministry post, which in any event has no funds for new village development, but only propaganda. The new village ministry post is fit not for the MCA leader, but a junior MCA official as new MCA leader.

Dr. Lim Chong Eu is now working very hard behind the scenes to replace Tun Tan Siew Sin’s position in the Cabinet. And for this objective, he is prepared to do anything to please the senior partner in the National Front, namely the UMNO.

Whether Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s fulfillment of his personal political ambition coincides with the interests of the people is something which is becoming more and more obvious.

Recently, there had been many twists and turns in the political stage of Malaysia. And there are likely to be more twists and turns. For instance, I will not be surprised if the PPP, for instance, in an attempt to ensure a slightly longer span of political survival, dissolve itself and to join up with the Gerakan although Dato S. P. Seenivasagam has been cursing the very name of Dr. Lim Chong Eu since the last general elections.

But one lesson the people and honest politicians can learn is that if we are to retain the respect and support of the people, we cannot twist and turn our political principles just for political advancement, office and position. Political principles, and the trust of the people, should not be commodities saleable in the market place to the highest bidder.