Only 40% of national primary school pupils passed the Std. V Assessment Test in English subject last year

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Dap Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, to members and supporters during a visit to Pulau Ketam, Selangor, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 12, 1979

Only 40% of national primary school pupils passed the Std. V Assessment Test in English subject last year.

In a democratic country, the people must be informed of the facts and developments in the country so that they could make intelligent decisions, not only to enable them to choose political parties, but also choose policies and programs.

Unfortunately, in Malaysia, there is a greater trend towards morbid secrecy of government, completely unrelated to nation’s security, which are the biggest enemies of democracy and an open society.

It has rightly been said that ignorance is importance and knowledge is power, and to keep the people ignorant about what is happening in the country, whether in politics, education, economics, or what the government is doing or why it is doing a certain thing, is to keep the people powerless to exercise their democratic right to a say and participation in the country’s affairs.

There are many things in the country which are wrong, and which the people yearn for correction, but which the people find difficult to articulate for the simple reason that they lack data and information, which should be freely available in a democratic country but is not available in Malaysia.

One of the issues which worry Malaysians is the standard and quality of education being provided in Malaysian schools, where many students leave after nine years of education illiterate, unable to read or write!

In Last Year’s 1978 Std. V Assessment Test, only 40% of the students from national primary schools in Peninsular Malaysia, numbering some 164,800 pupils, passed the Bahasa Inggeris II paper.

Yet these 60% of the Std. V students from national primary schools, of some 98,840, will go up in automatic promotion from year to year until Form III level, without any likelihood that they would learn very much more in English language, because year after year, they will find the lessons cumulatively more and more beyond their comprehension!

There has recently been expression of concern about the drastic drop in English standards in our schools. The employment of 200 teachers from the United Kingdom is unlikely to make a great dent to halt the sharp descent in English standards in our schools, as highlighted by the 60% failure rate in last year’s Std. V Assessment test.

There is a large reservoir of Malaysian teachers in the schools who were themselves educated and trained in English, and who should be tapped for a crash course to upgrade the level of English in Malaysian primary and secondary schools. This is likely to be more effective and lasting in impact then the short-term import of 200 British teachers involving so much foreign exchange costs.

MCA – a bad egg which has failed to produce chicken for over 20 years!

The approach of MCA party elections for the national posts and the Central Committee has produced many ludicrous speeches by MCA leaders, trying to exhibit their intellectual prowess and political astuteness.

Suddenly, the people find themselves being drowned with great boasts by one MCA leader after another as to how great be MCA and its leaders.

One MCA Minister, for instance, said in Kota Bahru last week that the Malaysian Chinese should get away from the trap of arguing as to whether support should be given to MCA first, or whether the MCA should deliver the goods first. This Minister said that this argument of whether the egg or chicken come first is not appropriate.

This MCA Minister forgets that the MCA is not a fresh egg but a bad egg which for over 20 years have failed to produce a single chicken!

Although a party in the National Front government, MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers have not only been a full party of the National Front policies which are highly detrimental to the interests of the people whether in education, economics, or political development, but sought to deceive the people by hiding facts and figures from public knowledge.

For instance, the problem of diminution of higher education opportunities for non-Malays in Malaysia have become more and more serious in the 1970s, but the MCA, through its Ministers and Deputy Ministers, refused to let the people know these figures and understand the seriousness of the problems until these figures were forced out into public by the DAP in Parliament.

Again, the MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers were aware that there is not only the grave problem of imbalance of local university intake for non-Malay students, but also the grave problem of imbalance at Form Six classes for non-Malay students. This has again to await the DAP to bring it out into the open, as I did in the Perak DAP State Convention in Ipoh last Sunday.

No wonder, in the last elections, the MCA, which claimed to be the champion of the Malaysian Chinese, was decisively rejected by the Malaysian Chinese themselves, and the MCA got hardly 15% of the total votes cast by the Malaysian Chinese, in last year’s general elections.

Operation Sarawak

August and September will be months of ‘operation Sarawak’ for the DAP, where the DAP will be contesting the Sarawak General Elections for the first time. Sdr. Lee Lam Thye and Sdr. Chan Teck Chan will go over to Sarawak first to help finalise DAP’s general election plans with DAP Sarawak officials.

The objective of the DAP in the Sarawak general elections is to provide the people and State of Sarawak with a dedicated and genuine opposition in the Sarawak Council Negeri to protect the interests of the people of Sarawak and to uphold social democracy, economic justice, a clean and honest government. The Sarawak DAP will release a Sarawak general elections manifesto to explain the issues on which the DAP will seek the support and confidence of the people in the general elections.