By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Saturday, 11th August 1979:
Call on Datuk Musa Hitam to clarity whether it is government policy to begin converting Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools from next year.
Early last week, the Education Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, announced at the opening of the Malaysian Secondary Schools Science Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur that from next year, all teaching and learning of science and mathematics subjects from Standard One to Standard Five would be taught in Bahasa Malaysia.
This has immediately raised the question whether the Education Minister has decided to start converting Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools beginning from next year, as up till now, only Chinese and Tamil primary schools are not using Bahasa Malaysia to teach science and mathematics from std. I – Std. V levels.
I have been waiting for clarification from the Education Minister on his announcement, but none had been forthcoming.
I call on the Education Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to clarify whether his announcement last week means that week means that the Government had taken a new policy decision to begin converting Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools from next year, beginning with science and mathematics subjects.
If this is the case, then it would be a serious violation of Government pledge to preserve Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and that despite the existence of Clause 21(b) of the Education Act 1961 which confers powers on Education Minister to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools, the Government would respect the wishes of the parents who send their children to Chinese and Tamil primary schools and would not invoke Clause 21(b).
The conversation of teaching medium of science and mathematics in Chinese primary schools from STD.I to Std. V would also have the immediate effect of drastically downgrading the science and mathematics standards in Chinese primary schools, and also in Tamil primary schools.
Last year’s 1978 Std. V Assessment Test has again confirmed that Chinese primary schools excel all other primary schools in mathematics, with 70% passes in mathematics as compared to 51% passes in the subject for students of national primary schools. Such a change wills serious lower the percentage of passes in Chinese primary schools, as also in the case of science, which in the 1978 Std. V. Assessment Test; attained 62.8% passes for all Chinese primary school pupils.