Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and DAP Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the when addressing the Selangor/Federal Territory DAP State Committee on Tuesday, September 19, 1978 at 8 p.m.
Call on Datuk Lee San Choon and Dr. Lim Chong Eu to explain to the Malaysian public why they support the government rejection of Merdeka University proposal
Two days ago, the Education Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam announced at the UMNO General Assembly that the Government had rejected the application for the establishment of the Merdeka University to expand higher education places for Malaysian students.
The application for the establishment of the Merdeka University was made in the form of a petition signed by over 4,000 organisations, guilds and associations (with the conspicuous absence of MCA and Gerakan) which was presented to the Yang di – Pertuan Agong as required by the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971.
I am most shocked that a solemn petition made to the Yang di – Pertuan Agong in accordance with law is treated so lightly that a reply to such a petition is made by the Education Minister, and at a UMNO General Assembly.
Both the manner of announcement, and the reasons for the rejection, have undermined confidence of a significant section of the people in the Barisan Nasional Government.
MCA and Gerakan have often boasted that they are equal partners in the Barisan Nasional Government. The public have a right to know why they supported the government rejection of the Merdeka University application, or they were not even consulted at all? It is time that both Datuk Lee San Choon, MCA President, and Dr. Lim Chong Eu, Gerakan President, explain to the Malaysian people why they support the Government rejection of the Merdeka University proposal.
Today’s press reported Datuk Lee San Choon as saying that he had no comments to make on Datuk Musa Hitam’s announcement. Has Datuk Lee San Choon shut his mouth because he knows that his support and the MCA endorsement of the rejection of the Merdeka University petition has no merit or good reason whatsoever? If so, then why should the MCA Ministers be so gutless and unprincipled as to support an action which they know in their heart of hearts to be unjustifiable and contrary to public and national interest?
This is the time for MCA and Gerakan Ministers, MPs, State Assemblymen and even party leaders and members to demonstrate to the people whether they are men of principle, or they are devoid of principles. If they are men of principles, then in accordance with the widespread legitimate wishes of the people, they should stand up and oppose the rejection of the Merdeka University petition, and demand that the Government reconsider and give approval.
The MCA claims to represent the five million Chinese in Malaysia. Let the MCA prove now whether they represent the five million Chinese of they merely represent the UMNO, which unable MCA Ministers and MPs to win through UMNO’s votes:
DAP sent telegram to Prime Minister expressing shock over Merdeka University rejection/ urges reconsideration
I have today sent a telegram to the Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, expressing shock at the government rejection of the Merdeka University petition, as it constitutes a major setback to nation building and marks a most unfavourable beginning for the new Hussein Onn administration after the 1978 general elections.
In my telegram, I have asked the Prime Minister to reconsider the Merdeka University petition, and to allow the establishment of Merdeka University as a first concrete step to reduce polarisation in the country.
DAP deplores statement by UMNO Youth President calling for conversion of Chinese and Tamil primary schools
In his presidential speech at the UMNO Youth Conference last Thursday, UMNO Youth President, Haji Suhaimi Datuk Kamaruddin, declared that it was time that all Government schools had one medium of instruction that is in Bahasa Malaysia.
This is nothing less than a call for the conversion of Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools.
After the 1978 general elections, some Barisan Nasional leaders expressed concern that in Malaysia there is the serious problem of racial polarisatkon. But unfortunately, their very action is calculated to strengthen racial polarisation in the country, rather than to reduce racial polarisation.
The call by Haji Suhaimi a Datuk Kamaruddin, for instance, for all government schools to be only in one medium – to terminate Chinese and Tamil primary schools – must be deplored, for it is such extreme and racialist statements and positions which have caused the grave problem of racial polarisation in the country.
But what is even more important, what is the stand of MCA Central Executive Committee, which is meeting on Sept. 23, on the UMNO Youth President’s call – which completely robs Article 152 of the Malaysian Constitution guaranteeing free use for Chinese and other languages of all meaning.
The DAP takes a serious view of the speech by the UMNO Youth President, and we think that the reaffirmation by the people that Chinese primary schools should never be converted is very urgent and paramount.