Call for the establishment of more universities in Malaysia to give higher education opportunities to non-Malay students

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and member of parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a Public Rally in Kampong Koh, Sitiawan, on Saturday, 20th April 1974 at 9 p.m.

1. Call for the establishment of more universities in Malaysia to give higher education opportunities to non-Malay students

Malaysia has at preset five institutes of higher learning. For the 1973 academic year, the intake of students by these five institutions are as follows:

Malay Chinese Indians Others Total
Agriculture University 352 118 18 – 488
Science University 263 421 49 – 733
University Kebangsaan 520 21 9 – 550
University of Malaya 1,204 1,113 233 – 2,550
MARA Institute of Technology 1,911 – – – 1,911
4,250 1,673 309 – 6,232

One of the biggest problems in Malaysia today is the very limited number of university places for non-Malay students, and the seriousness of this problem can be seen from the above figures.

Thus, while 4,250 Malay students found places in universities and the institute of technology last year, only less than 2,000 non-Malay students were able to go for higher education in Malaysia.

This is an area which the government should give serious and urgent attention, and I call for the establishment of more universities in Malaysia so that non-Malay students with the necessary qualifications and abilities can develop their potential to the fullest.

The Second Malaysia Plan talks about the rectification of imbalance, and university places constitute a grave imbalance which should not be allowed to continue to exist.

The DAP is firmly of the view that every Malaysian student, regardless of race, who possess the academic qualifications and capabilities to proceed to higher education should be given the opportunity to do so, even if it means at the state’s expense. For education is the most important investment in human capital by any country.

2. The further decline of MCA

It is sad about true that to the component parties in the National Front, like the MCA, the Gerakan, the PPP, they are not interested about the issues which concern the people and their future. They are only interested in fighting for seats and becoming State Executive Councillors or Ministers.

Thus, they are silent on the major issues of the day, like the lack of opportunities for Malaysian students, non-Malays in particular, for university education in Malaysia.

Again, last Saturday, we invited Members of Parliament of all parties to form a Parliamentary Group to campaign for the preservation of Chinese and Tamil schools. MCA, Gerakan, MIC, PPP, and even Pekemas, Members of Parliament were not interested. They are not prepared to join forces on this one issue, and rise above party and personal interests.

With the resignation of Tun Tan Siew Sin as MCA President the MCA under the new leadership of Lee San Choon has become weaker and weaker.

In fact, the MCA must now decide whether they are prepared to be a very junior member of the National Front. Formerly, the MCA President occupied the post of Finance Minister, a very senior position. Now the new MCA leaders is only the Minister for New Villages, the most junior post in the Cabinet.

Thus, in Parliament, Lee San Choon, as leader of MCA, sits at the last row, behind all other Ministers, This indicates his lowly position in the Cabinet, and the lowly position of the MCA in the Cabinet.

Many National Front parties are in trouble. The PPP is one of them. Dato S. P. Seenivasagam realizes that the days of PPP are numbered, and in desperation, he is working for his PPP to join the Gerakan, even if it means swallowing his pride, for since 1969, he had cursed and condemned the very name of Lim Chong Eu.

Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and his ex-MCA colleagues are not having a smooth time either. Dr. Lim Chong Eu has already started his political manipulations to tae Dr. Lim Keng Yaik by excluding him from the Central Executive Committee of Gerakan.

But all these political going on are not over the rights and interests of the people, with regard to their opportunities in the field of education, employment, better life, but for the political interest of the individual political opportunities concerned.

I have no doubt that the people will be able to see through the hypocrisy and opportunism of those political parties and political leaders who have no constant political principles, but who bend and turn to the tune of others.