Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General Lim Kit Siang at the Salak South DAP Branch Anniversary Dinner in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 17th December 1975 at 8a.m.
DAP calls for the establishment of more local universities to provide higher education opportunities to Malaysian youths
Every year, some 30,000 – 40,000 Malaysian youths with the requisite qualifications for university education are turned away by the five Malaysian universities.
Up to now, many of these students have continued their higher education in universities abroad, notably in Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
However, after the Prime Minister, Tun Razak’s visit to Australia and New Zealand and the protest demonstrations against the Barisan Nasional policies by Malaysians students abroad and foreign students, the New Zealand Government bas announced that if would reduce the number of places for Malaysian students in New Zealand universities.
It is very disappointing that the Malaysian government, made no attempt to dissuade the New Zealand Government to change its mind. On the contrary, it would appear that the Barisan Nasional leaders are quite glad that the New Zealand Government is reducing places for Malaysia students in New Zealand universities and colleges.
I had led a DAP delegation to see the New Zealand High Commissioner in Malaysia to convey to him the people’s concern and dismay at this quite unfriendly and un-neighbourly decision of the New Zealand government.
One of the reasons given by the New Zealand High Commissioner is that after graduation, over 40 per cent of the Malaysian students did not want to return to Malaysia, and that New Zealand is therefore directly helping in the development of Malaysia.
I had told the New Zealand High Commission that this argument is not valid, as this involved the whole problem of nation-building, sense of national belonging and identity, which clearly, New Zealand would not want to be involved. In any event, there is no guarantee that any reduction in the intake of Malaysian students into New Zealand universities would cause a reduction in the percentage of Malaysian students not wanting to return home after graduation.
I hope the New Zealand government would reconsider this question and refrain from restricting the number of Malaysian students going there for university studies.
Last week, heads of British universities had proposed that fees be raised or quotas se on foreign student admissions.
This has come as another blow to the tens of thousands of Malaysian students who are hoping to be able to continue their universities education abroad.
The Malaysian government should wake up and recognise the enormity of this problem, and should establish more universities to permit more Malaysian youths with the requisites academic qualifications to be able to continue with university studies and make a greater contribution to Malaysian economic development.
The Education Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, said in the Parliament last week that the government has no intention at the moment of setting up another institution of higher learning, and explained that no nation in the world could give higher education to all these who were academically qualified.
In actual fact, should Malaysia set up another three new universities, there will still be tens of thousands of academically qualified Malaysians who will be denied opportunities of university education.
But this should not step the government from taking positive steps to reduce the enormity of this problem. In fact, the Ministry of Education appears to be unbalanced in its approach towards higher or university education.
I submit that while the Education Ministry should be concerned about placing the maximum possible number of bumiputra students in universities, it should not forget the even higher duty and responsibility to place the maximum possible number of all Malaysian students in universities.
Help to uplift bumiputras educationally or is any other field is not justifiable in the overall Malaysian context to uplift Malaysians of all races by giving them all an equal opportunity in life to develop to the maximum their abilities and talents.