The Mahathir Report on Education (2)

(Speech when winding-up the debate on the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report on Education on June 10, 1980)

I regret that on a debate on such a vital issue as education, which would determine the future of our children and the nation, no Barisan Nasional MP showed any interest or took part in the debate – apart from the reply read out by the Deputy Education Minister. We know that Mps are deeply engrossed with the rumoured new increase of allowances, which I hear would be a 100% increase. If there is to be a 100% increase in allowance for MPs, then at least MPs should show a 100% increase in their interest of issues affecting the nation and people, and a 100% increase of their sense of responsibility.

Last night’s Parliamentary Report over TV did not mention a single word of the debate yesterday on my motion although over two hours were spent yesterday debating such an important issue as the Cabinet Education Report. This shows the attitude of government servants who had just got a pay rise but yet cannot understand or are aware of important issues.

Yesterday, the Hon’ble Deputy Minister of Education said I was wasting the time of this House in making my speech. Yesterday, I spoke on many problems of education, whether the national education system had created national unity, whether the automatic promotion system is desirable, whether Chinese and Tamil primary schools are getting a fair amount of financial allocation from the government, the inadequacy of classes and schools for Chinese primary school students, the quality of education, the problem of our children, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians, who go to school for six or nine years and yet are unable to read or write but all these are a waste of time to the Hon’ble Deputy Minister of Education.

Dap Backbencher Hear! Hear!
Lim Kit Siang I want to know what is it that is not a waste of time? is it to get more money, to get more positions – all these are not a waste of time?
P.Patto (interjection) Multi-purpose!
Lim Kit Siang Yes, multi-purpose – licences – that is not a waste of time but discussing the people’s problems is considered a waste of time!

Actually, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in my many years in this House, I have had the opportunity to know the style of the Ho’ble Deputy Minister in giving answers or making speeches – and I have long felt sick whenever he stands up to reply to speak because he is irresponsible, does not know things yet ‘pura pura’ to show that he knows, always does not …

True, my son is overseas to obtain university education, as are the sons of many other Malaysians because they could not obtain places locally. Whose mistake is this?

Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, I request that he withdraw the word ‘pura pura’ – unparliamentary!
Lim Kit Siang Even now he ‘pura pura’ – pretend!
Chan Siang Sun Unparliamentary – withdraw!
Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Member, please Withdraw the word.
Lim Kit Siang ‘Pura pura’ mean ‘pretend’. How can it be unparliamentary?
Deputy Speaker Yes, if you follow it properly, it is not unparliamentary, but not when you insinuate.
Lim Kit Siang It is true and if evidence is needed, I can refer to the Hansard. I stand by that word because it is true.
Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Member, it is difficult to point out who is pretending and who is not from the speeches or debate in the House. I hope the Hon’ble Member will withdraw the word.
Lim Kit Siang Mr. Speaker, Sir, just now the Hon’ble Deputy Minister made allegations that I inflamed (api-apikan) issues which retard national unity. That is even more serious an allegation. Other allegations too were made, but were allowed. Is the word ‘pura pura’ not permissible?
Deputy Speaker No, Hon’ble Member, if you go by loghat, ‘api-api… (commotion in the house) Hon’ble Members, please respect this House. If you go by the word ‘pura pura’, there is insinuation that person is not clean at heart. ‘Api-api’ means to inflame people only. So, I hope the Hon’ble Member understand the meaning from the point of loghat and to maintain order in this House, please withdraw (the word).
Lim Kit Siang Mr. Speaker …
Shaari Jusoh Mr. Speaker, just now the Member for Petaling used the word ‘bodoh’ also.
Deputy Speaker Thats what I remember, please tone down a little.
Lim Kit Siang I can substitute the word
Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, I ask that he withdraw the word ‘pura pura’.
P.Patto This is also ‘pura pura’ too
Deputy Speaker Member from Menglembu, please respect the House. now call on the Hon’ble Member from Petaling to withdraw the word ‘pura pura’.
Lim Kit Siang That ‘pura pura’ is unparliamentary? All right, I do not agree but since the Speaker has so decided, I shall withdraw the word ‘pura pura’ but he (the Deputy Minister) has pretended …
Chan Siang Sun Pretend what?
Lim Kit Siang Pretend. P-R-E-T-E-N-D! Pretended in this House, what he does not know – he pretended that he knew.
Deputy Speaker Please process with your speech.
Lim Kit Siang Yes. If I am not wrong – I am not so fluent in Bahasa Malaysia – ‘pretend’ in Bahasa Malaysia is ‘pura pura’. (Laughter)
Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, I ask that he withdraw the word.
Lim Kit Siang I am only making a definition.
Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Member, please respect this House a little, and withdraw (the word).
Lim Kit Siang When I said that he ‘pura pura’, a decision was made that it was unparliamentary. The word in Bahasa Malaysia I withdraw. But he did pretend and if I am not mistaken, ‘pretend’ in Bahasa Malaysia means ‘pura pura’ – or is there another word for it, if so I hope I can learn. Is there another word for it?
Deputy Speaker Please proceed with your speech!
Lim Kit Siang All right …
Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, Standing Order 36(1). The Hon’ble Member have deviated and is not confining himself to the debate
Deputy Speaker That is why I asked the Hon’ble Member from Petaling to continue with the debate. Please do not deviate. That is all.
Lim Kit Siang That is the attitude that I mentioned just now – being a circus clown. Whenever the Deputy Minister stands up, we feel so sick, that if possible we do not want to ask him any questions or to hear anything from him. I have never had such a feeling towards anyone in this House in the last ten years. His attitude and style is soo offensive and sickening that he is not fit to be a Deputy Minister. It is very important that our nation does not have a Deputy Minister who is so useless and good-for-nothing.

In this House which practices democracy, we can have differences of opinions, but at least, we can respect each other too. But in this case, the Hon’ble Deputy Minister does not deserve any respect.

Yesterday, he told me to read Recommendation No. 103 of the Report carefully as answering all my points. I had made two major criticisms. Firstly, the Report had failed to assess whether the education system has met the manpower needs; and secondly, that it had failed to assess whether we have created a united nation. The Deputy Minister said everything is in the Report and told me to look at Recommendation No. 103, Let us look at Recommendation 103, and see whether here again is another instance of his pretending to know what he really doesn’t. Now what is Recommendation 103?

Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, clarification!
Deputy Speaker (to Lim Kit Siang) Yes?
Lim Kit Siang Can (give way), anytime! We do not pretend.
Chan Siang Sun Yesterday I said there were 103 recommendations, a lot of them – read all of them.
Lim Kit Siang 103?
Chan Siang Sun All 103. (Laughter).
Lim Kit Siang Oh! Is it true that there are a total of 103 recommendations? Is the Hon’ble Minister saying that there are 103 recommendations and not 173 – 1-7-3? (interruptions). (To Deputy Education Minister) Don’t know? He wants to pretend, again. If we read Recommendation 103, it does not say anything. O.K. read or show one paragraph which has recommendations on manpower needs or nation unity? Come, let us knows! Cannot? Now we see. This is again ‘pura pura’.
Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, please withdraw the word.
Deputy Speaker Yes, the Hon’ble has withdraw the word.
Lim Kit Siang (The Deputy Minister) is not qualified, does not know anything. Only knows how to read the written speech of the civil servant, and everything becomes a circus. Education is a serious matter, and not something to play around with. Unfortunately, it has not received the government’s serious attention.

Yesterday, the Deputy Minister complained that I only referred to the short-comings and defects of the system, but said nothing about its success, like the raising of the standard of education. What does this mean? It means the Deputy minister acknowledges the shortcomings and defects I spoke about yesterday, but he is only complaining that I had not touched on the achievements. If this be so, all the more why we should have a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into the whole question, and that I have not been ‘wasting time’.

The people elected us to do what? To waste time? is it to discuss the people’s problems to waste time? Whoever has such an attitude is not fit to be a Member of Parliament, let alone a Deputy Minister. This attitude is not that of a democract. It is most fortunate for our country that he is only a Deputy Minister and completely without power, just to be directed and pushed at. If he has real powers, then our education system is finished. We know that he is only a rubber stamp, a puppet, to come here to talk only! (Laughter).

Mr. Speaker Sir, juts now when I challenged the Deputy Minister to show one paragraph where there is a recommendation concerning national manpower needs or on national unity, he kept quiet and just sat there. Probably, he has not himself read the Report. (To Deputy Minister) Have you read it? I am asking, have you read it? Do you understand? 173 Recommendations, and he says 103! How could he have read the Report? He Himself had not read the Report. He dare not (say anything). If he says he has read, I want to know what is inside it. So he better not pretend. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is serious when a Deputy Minister himself has not read the Report. This a measure of the problem we are facing.

Yesterday, he used the opportunity of the adjournment speech by my colleague, the Member of Ipoh, (Sdr. Lim Cho Hock), to restrain UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan leaders from sending their children overseas for primary and secondary education, to attack the DAP – that I sent my son overseas, that the MP for Seremban sent his son overseas.

The Hon’ble Deputy Minister has the temerity to come to the House to say they have the mandate from the people to continue with the education system, when Ministers and Barisan Nasional leaders sent their children overseas for primary and secondary education. This shows that they do not themselves have faith in their own education system created by them.

True, my colleague from Seremban has his son overseas for higher education. But this education system is not created by the DAP. It is a system which we had been the strongest critics. We are not hypocrites, unlike people who created thids education system, and yet adopt the attitude, ‘your sons study here, mine go overseas’ even for primary and secondary education.

Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports (Datuk Abdul Samad Idris) Mr. Speaker, Sir, I seek clarification.
Lim Kit Siang Yes, of course
Abdul Samad Idris I know this speech is in retaliation to the Deputy Minister of Education. Now, who is lecturing? The Hon’ble Member has already lectured for two hours yesterday. This is not the time to lecture. He asked for clarification but he continued lecturing, giving irrelevant reasons. Now the Hon’ble Member must reply to the points that he raised yesterday, but now he is lecturing again. I hope the Speaker can act.
Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Members, I had stated just now that the aim in allowing the Hon’ble Member from Petaling to wind up is to give views with regard to matters and statements that were made yesterday. But I ask that matters which affect the personality of the Deputy Minister be cut down.
Lim Kit Siang When I wind up, I have to refer to matter raised during the debate. It has not been my habit to be personal in debates. But this was started by the Hon’ble Deputy Minister first. I must be given an opportunity to explain and when the Hon’ble Deputy Minister speaks, he speaks on behalf of the Barisan nasional, including the Minister, and when I clarify to him, he together with the Hon’ble Minister have to listen to what I say. If they don’t like it, they can get out. (Hear! Hear!)
Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Member, please confine yourself to matters pertaining to education, on the education policy stated yesterday.
Lim Kit Siang Yes. He had stated that I sent my son overseas for university education. Why can’t I do so? Yesterday I criticised the lack of local university places, which he described as a ‘waste of time’. Yet the Deputy Minister’s own elder brother has emigrated precisely because of this question, isn’t it? (Interruption by P.Patto: Deny it!) Yes, (to Deputy Education Minister) stand up and deny it! Oh now getting quite ‘smart’ … having lost all your energy?
Deputy Speaker All right, Hon’ble Member. I ask that you heed my request that you do not touch on personality
Lim Kit Siang I hope next time he won’t do this again so that I need not reply in this fashion. Let this be a lesson to him.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, just now the Hon’ble Deputy Minister stated that he doubted the role of the DAP and our qualification to talk about national unity. He accused me of siding one racial group in my speech. Talking to him is quite useless, as he pretends that he knows or understands when he doesn’t. I had, in my speech, mentioned many problem of education, including the survey of 12 Malay primary schools in Negri Sembilan which showed that their achievements in mathematics was most unsatisfactory. Is this for one racial group, the Chinese, only? We in the DAP are Malaysians – unlike the MCA which say Chinese unite, UMNO which says Malays unite. We are even more Malaysian than the Hon’ble Deputy Minister although he is not qualified to be Deputy Minister.

Deputy Speaker Hon’ble Member. I have given you more than 10 minutes to wind up. I now give a limit of another 10 minutes. Please wind up.
Lim Kit Siang All right, I shall wind up in 10 minutes. When we raise educational problems, we are not siding any one race. We want all the races, Malays, Chinese and Indians, to get the best education possible we can give them. We want every race to get a fair opportunity and this does not mean that we are disregard the reality of ours as a multi-racial society, that mother-tongue education is a right which is not only entrenched in the Razak Report and the Constitution of Malaysia, but also in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If we demand that mother-tongue education be protected, does this mean ‘wasting time’? It is these attitudes which are the precise causes of division in our nation. We in the DAP want to save Malaysia from such unMalaysian attitudes. We want Malaysia to progress. We in the DAP are unlike those Barisan Nasional leaders, especially those from the MCA who have money and should anything happen in Malaysia, they have the money to migrate to other countries like the elder brother of the Hon’ble Deputy Minister. (To Deputy Minister). Want to deny it?

And when there is chaos in the country, we shall still be in Malaysia, and our children shall still be in Malaysia! We want to save Malaysia from this eventuality. But the Hon’ble Deputy Minister does not understand all this, or does not want to understand, although he has been in Parliament for more than 10 years – although he is a Deputy Minister – hoping he can be a full Minister. I am aware …

Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, for information, I am already a fifth termer.
Lim Kit Siang Oh, that is even worse! (Laughter)
Chan Siang Sun I want to let you know
Lim Kit Siang I understand. Five terms and still cannot become a Minister.

Mr. Speaker, Sir, yesterday, I suggested that we should have a national system of pre-school age education where our children can receive education during the most formative period of their life. If the Government introduces such a scheme, those who would benefit most would be the rural Malays, as this will develop the intelligence of the rural children which will enable them to continue to school and university in later life.

Yet, the Deputy Minister said I want to side on racial group only.

Finally, I believe that if we are to have an education system which can create a united nation, it is most important that the narrow thinking and attitudes of people like the Deputy Minister should be ‘cleansed’ – for how can we develop a united nation through our education system which we have such a Deputy education Minister, who is ignorant of his own special field, does not read he Education Report itself, and could only ‘pura pura’ that he is a know-all. That is all.

Chan Siang Sun Mr. Speaker, Sir, I ask that it (‘pura pura’) be withdrawn again.
Deputy Speaker The context of ‘pura pura’ here is somewhat different from just now. (Laughter).