Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at the Paya Terubong DAP branch anniversary dinner held in Penang on Sunday, 9th October 1977 at 8 p.m.
DAP to move a motion in Parliament to uphold the Constitutional use of Chinese or Tamil as media of instruction in primary, secondary and university educational levels
On 23rd September 1977, I wrote a letter to all MCA, I wrote a letter to all MCA, Gerakan and MIC Members of Parliament to ask them whether they are prepared to join in an effect in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament to declare categorically and unequivocally the Constitutional and nationalist position of Chinese and Tamil education and schools in Malaysia.
As I told them in my letter: “For the last 20 years since Merdeka, any defence or attempt to develop Chinese or Tamil education and schools has been branded as being an act of chauvinism, both inside and outside Parliament.
“It is this narrow attitude and approach which explains the series of laws and government measures which are not only unconducive to the position of Chinese and Tamil education and schools, but wholly against the spirit and letter of Clause 152 of the Malaysian Constitution.”
My letter to the Barisan Nasional MPs added: “The history of Chinese and Tamil education and schools in Malaysia since Merdeka has been a history if set-backs.
“The time has come for Chinese and Tamil education and school to re-discover their proper Constitutional place.”
I asked the MCA, Gerakan and MIC MPs to reply by Oct. 7 whether they were prepared to join in support of a motion in Parliament declaring the proper Constitutional position of Chinese and Tamil schools and education.
I did not rceive a single reply from any one of the MCA, Gerakan or MIC MPs. I am not in the least surprised. They are afraid even to reply to my letter – which shows the type of political courage and political principles which they have.
Despite the cowardly attitude of the MSA, MIC and Gerakan MPs, I have proceeded ahead, and have given notice to Parliament that I will move a motion to uphold the Constitutional position of Chinese and Tamil education and schools in Malaysia.
My motion to be tabled in the forthcoming meeting of Parliament which will start on Oct. 24 and go on till mid-December, reads:
“THAT THIS HOUSE,
TAKING COGNISANCE of the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial nation and that an enduring basis for Malaysian nation-building can only be built on a respect for the diverse languages and cultures in the country;
CONSCIOUS of the vital need to resolve once and for all the national divisions which had been created by language problems in our country;
NOTES the acceptance of Malay as national and official language of the country by Malaysians of all races;
DECLARES that Clause 152(1) (a) of the Malaysian Constitution which guarantees that “no person shall be prohibited or prevented for using (otherwise that for official purposes) or from teaching or learning any other language” includes the guaranteed Constitutional use of Chinese and Tamil as medium of instruction, not only for primary schools, but secondary and university levels as well;
DECLARES that Clause 152(1) (a) of the Malaysian Constitution that “nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or of any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation” contains a Constitutional authorisation for government financial support for the establishment, development and promotion of primary, secondary and University institutions using Chinese or Tamil as sole or joint media of instruction.”
Let MCA, Gerakan and MI prove what they say outside Parliament, in their party conferences and meetings, and stand up straight in Parliament to declare the proper Constitutional position of Chinese and Tamil education andschools inMalysia – for it is clear from Clauses 152(1) (a) and (b) that not only should the Government permit the continued existence of Chinese primary schools, but the government could and should provide government funds in aid of Chinese Independent Secondary schools (without any change in Media ofinsruction ) and to permit the establishment of the proposed Merdeka University, and even to provide government financial support for this project.