Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, to the DAP National Publicity Committee meeting at DAP Hqrs on Monday, 14th July 1980 at 8pm
The Suhaimi Affair: A test case of the impartiality of law enforcement agencies in Malaysia
The DAP, through Sdr. Lee Lam Thye and Sdr. M. Kuppusamy, have lodged police reports against the UMNO Youth leader, Haji Suhaimi Kamarrudin, and an UMNO Kelantan Delegate, Haji Jalani Jafaar, for offences against the Sedition Act 1948 as revised in 1970 in calling for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the Education Act 1961 and the closure of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
The law is very clear on this, and there could be no dispute as to whether a sedition offence had been committed. The question is whether the Attorney-General would do his duty and prosecute Haji Suhaimi and Haji Jalani.
I understand that with his recent victory over Datuk Harun Idris in the election for the UMNO Youth President post, Haji Suhaimi expects to be rewarded with a Ministerial post.
We will not stand in the way of Haji Suhaimi’s elevation to ministerial position, but we would expect the Attorney-General to be true to his oath of office, and prosecute Haji Suhaimi, even should be become a Minister, for offences of sedition.
The Suhaimi affair is a test case also of the impartiality of the law enforcement agencies in Malaysia: as to whether there is one strict legal standard applicable to all Malaysians, or whether there are double standards in the application of laws.
Malaysians are watching and waiting. The world is also following developments. I call on the Attorney-General to be firm and true to his oath of office to uphold the law, and demonstrate that in Malaysia, we have a Government of laws and not a government of men!
The Suhaimi affair, therefore, involves many fundamental questions in Malaysian nation building, prominently for instance, on the question of the legitimate place of Chinese and Tamil primary schools in our national education system.
Mr. Loot Ting Yu, Vice President of the Chinese Teachers’ Associations’ Federation, had suggested a legal suit to contest the constitutionality of Clause 21(2) of the Education Act 1961 as flouting Article 152 of the Malaysian Constitution, an entrenched constitutional subject which is placed beyond the pale of questioning on pain of automatic contravention of the Sedition Act 1948.
This is a most interesting suggestion, which could be discussed at the tea party on Sunday on July 20 where I have invited leaders of component parties of the Barisan Nasional and organizations concerned about the legitimate recognition of Chinese and Tamil primary schools in the mainstream of the national education system, to consider possible joint efforts to effectively stamp out growing extremist calls for the closure of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
We are now at a very critical moment in determining the future of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and it is important that forces dedicated to integrating Chinese and Tamil primary schools into the national education system as part of its mainstream, and not as a tributary, should join hands to chart out a an assured future for Chinese and Tamil primary schools in Malaysia.