Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, to a joint meeting of DAP Branches in the Kinta Valley held at the DAP Perak premises at Jalan Kampar, Ipoh on Friday, 9th Sept. 1977
Lim Kit Siang writes to MCA President, Dato Lee San Choon and Gerakan President, Dr.lim Chong Eu, inviting them to a public debate or a series of public debates on the future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education. I have also suggested that this public debate or series of public debates on the future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education, which could be held in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, or any other place, should be organised and chaired by the Thung Chung and Chiau Chong.
My letter to Dato Lee San Choon and Dr. Lim Chong Eu reads:
“Dato lee Can Soon 9.9.1977
Dr. Lim Chong Eu,
Public debates on future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education to be organised and chaired by Thung Chung / Chiao Chung
I am writing this letter to invite both of you to join me in a public debate or series of public debates on the future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education in Malaysia.
The public debate or series of public debates, which can be held in Penang, Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, or Malacca, or any other place, should be organised and chaired by Thung Chung and Chiau Chong.
On the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of our nation’s Independence, Malaysians are justifiable concerned about the future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education in Malaysia.
A comparison of the position of Chinese education and Chinese schools in the Year of Merdeka in 1957 with today, two decades, later, show that considerable set-backs had been suffered, and that unless greater efforts are made to uphold and observe, both in spirit and letter, Clause 152 of the Malaysian Constitution, the future is an even more worrisome one.
Clause 152 made it very clear that the acceptance of Malay as the national language – which is now accepted by every Malaysian – shall not prevent any person from “using (otherwise than of official purposes) or from teaching or learning, any other language.”
“Using”, in my view, means the use of any other language as a medium of instruction in schools. In other words, Clause 152 refers directly and specifically to a constitutional guarantee to “preserve and sustain” Chinese schools – for it is only by this interpretation that Clause 152 (1) (a) and (b) has meaning and substance.
Unfortunately, in the last two decades, Clause 152 has been narrowly interpreted, as evidenced by the 1961 Education Act, in particular Clause 21 (b); the 1977 Amendment to the Education Act; and the rejection by Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament, including MCA and Gerakan MPs, of my motion in Parliament in October 1974 to repeal Clause 21 (b) of the 1961 Education Act.
You will agree that it is no use passing brave resolutions in party branch meetings or in Conferences, or for party leaders to make fierce speeches, which are not borne out by Parliamentary action.
It is also time for a public examination of the future of Chinese primary schools and Chinese education, so that the Malaysian public can judge for themselves the road that should be taken to fulfil the Constitutional guarantee for Chinese primary schools and Chinese education in Clause 152, but also to convince narrow-minded Malaysians that efforts to preserve and advance Chinese education and Chinese schools is not a chauvinist or sectional issue, but a legitimate Malaysian aspiration fully in accordance with Malaysian Constitution and Malaysian nationalism.
I expect to hear from you soon.
c.c. Thung Chung/ Chiau Chung
Lim Kit Siang
(Lim Kit Siang)