By Sdr. Lim Kit Siang, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, 17th May, 1975
DAP calls for the launching of a nation-wide Signature Campaign in endorsement of Thung Chun Siew Chun Memorandum on Chinese Education in repudiation of the MCA Memorandum
The break between the MCA from the Thung Chun Siew and the 3400 organisations’ representatives of the Chinese in Malaysia and the MCA leadership’s refusal to heed, respect and represent the hopes and aspirations of Malaysian Chinese on the question of Chinese education is inevitable.
History has again shown that the MCA’s top leadership, irrespective of who they are, are incapable of breaking away from its past character and respond wholly to the legitimate and widespread hopes and wishes of the people and fight for the realization of what is just and right, regardless of their individual fortune.
The Thung Chun Siew Chun should be highly regarded for their firm stand in reiterating and reasserting the fundamental issues in Malaysia, especially at this critical stage in the life of our nation.
With the fast developing changes in Malaysia and the whole of South East Asia, brought about by the recent development in Indo-China, the entire range of the Government’s policy, whether political, economical, educational, social or cultural, should be brought under a searching reappraisal to bring them into greater conformity with the hopes and aspirations of substantial sections of the population.
Not least of the after ‘effects’ problems of Vietnam and Indo-China is of course the billion dollars arsenal of weapons abandoned by the American and left behind by the Americans. ( at 1.2 million rifles plus enormous amount of ammunitions apart from the more sophisticated weapons like missiles tanks and planes ) which will most likely find their way in other parts of S.E.K. including Malaysia.
The Prime Minister, Tun Razak said in Johore Bahru yesterday that the communists cannot succeed although the communists’ victories in Vietnam and Cambodia could and will encourage them. He said this is because in Malaysia, a Government is elected by the people and that Malaysians love the democratic way of life.
Right thinking Malaysians who look into the future and not merely occupied with the immediate present will agreed that it is a matter of vital national urgency to conduct a thorough going review of the whole range of Government’s policies so that the people can have increasing rather than decreasing confidence in the ecstasy and effectiveness of the democratic process to solve their problems and to fulfil their aspirations.
Chinese education in Malaysia is one of such area which should be the subject of searching reappraisals by the Government. As the MCA is in the Cabinet and two of their Ministers members of the Mahathir Ministerial Educational Committee, the MCA top leadership should have discharged their higher responsibility in initiating a thorough review of the whole question of Chinese education and Government policy on it.
This, they have failed to do, as seen by their refusal to endorse the Thung Chun Siew Chun Education Memorandum, and even worse, by their own MCA Memorandum which paves the way for the conversion of Chinese primary schools into National Primary Schools.
The MCA top leadership has failed at this moment of destiny to make a serious effort to convince the Cabinet and Government that Chinese education is not a sectional chavaunistic issue, but a legitimate Malaysian issue affecting a substantial section of the people; just as the problem of Malay poverty and Malay special rights is not a sectional chavaunistic issue, but a legitimate Malaysian issue affecting a substantial section of the people.
On the contrary it has not only failed to make any effort in this direction, but it would appear that the top MCA leadership has been converted to the view that Chinese education is a sectional, chavaunistic, and those who assert the fundamental issue of Chinese education are not only chaveunistic but even anti-national.
Having failed the people so completely on the fundamental of Chinese education at so critical a juncture, for I think there is no more crucial time then the present for a national review on this question, the top MCA leadership has forfeited all “self-claims” to represent the Chinese.
All Malaysians who are dedicated to the fundamental issue of Chinese education should now seek out ways and means of achieving their legitimate objective. In devicing these now ways and means the following considerations must be carried out:
1) The importance of convincing the Government and other races that the struggle to recognize and acceptance of the fundamental issue of Chinese education is not a sectional chavaunistic issue but a National and Malaysian one;
2) That the emplacement of Chinese education in its rightful context in the Malaysian education system will serve the cause of forging National Unity and nation building, as its negligence has been the abiding cause of division and discontent among a substantial section of the population;
3) The adoption of constitutional, democratic peaceful methods in the carrying out of this struggles;
4) The demonstrations that these objectives represent the deeply and widely held aspirations of a substantial section of the population which has been ignored by the MCA, and which can be ignored by the Government only at the price of forfeiting the claim of representative Government and democratic practice.
Among the new means and methods which should now be devised to pursue this objective, I am of the view that a launching of a nation-wide campaign to seek popular endorsement of the Thung Chun Siew Chun Memorandum and the repudiation of the MCA Memorandum will clear demonstration to the Government of the popular view of the people. It will also be an occasion where every Malaysia committed to the ideal of Chinese education can participate and make known their aspirations.
With the present opportunity to cause a review of the position of Chinese education is missed, there may not be another one.