Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the Thousand-People Selangor/Federal Territory DAP Dinner held at Mak Yee Restaurant, Wisma Shaw, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 30th August 1980 at 9p.m
DAP calls for the abandonment of the 2% University Places Policy and its substitution with a Liberal University Places Policy which will give higher education opportunities for all eligible Malaysian students
The diminution and deprivation of higher education opportunities of our children in our own country is the most burning issue which pre-occupy Malaysian parents in the 1970s.
This problem has increasingly become more acute, with the prohibitive increase of costs in the United Kingdom, and the reduction of Universities places for Malaysian students abroad all over the world. It now costs about $300,000 for a Malaysian to get a medical education in the United Kingdom, for instance, which is clearly well beyond the means of the majority of Malaysians.
For quite some time, the MCA had been boasting about the ‘great things’ they have done in securing a 2% increase of university places for non-Malay students. This 2% increase of local university places for non-Malay students. This 2% increase of local university places work out to about 30 or 35 extra university places for non-Malay students – which is a ridiculously small figure, a mere drop in the ocean, when we consider that every year tens of thousands of our children who are academically qualified are unable to find local university places.
The DAP fully supports special government measures to enable Malay and bumiputra students to fully participate in the higher reaches of education, to redress the long-standing under-representation of the bumiputras in the professions and qualified manpower fields.
For instance, at the HSC level, non-bumiputra students require a MCE Grade 1 and an aggregate of not more than 8 units, or Grade 2 with an aggregate of not more than 6 units, for the best three subjects for admission into Science Stream in From Six; while bumiputra students only require an aggregate of not more than 21 units for Grade One holders for the best three subjects, or an aggregate of not more than 18 units for the best three subjects for Grade 2 holders.
The DAP has no objection to special assistance to provide Malay students the opportunities for higher education. But this should not be done to the detriment of academically qualified students. In this case of instance, non-Malays students with Grade One should be allowed to enter science stream if the aggregate of their best three subjects does not have exceed 15 units.
There are extremists and chauvinists in the country who demand that there should be restriction of non-bumiputra students receiving higher education to correct the imbalance of bumiputra and non-bumiputra students in the professions and all levels of qualifies manpower.
This is a cock-eyed, short-sighted and self-defeating view which must be condemned and rejected by all right-thinking Malaysians for two important reasons:
Firstly, higher education is a form of national investment and the more young Malaysians receive higher education, the better it is for Malaysian in terms of harnessing the optimum resources of the country to speed up national economic development and growth. The more doctors, engineers, scientists, technologists, chemists, etc. Malaysia has, the more likely that Malaysia will be able to develop at a faster rate to the benefit of all Malaysians, regardless of race.
Secondly, it is inequitable and totally unacceptable for our children to be discriminated against in this fashion. It is accepted by all Malaysians that the Malays are more backward educationally than other races, and that they should be assisted in all possible ways to catch up educationally. But such favouring of Malay students in access to educational opportunities must not be carried out with the effect of denying non-Malay students higher education opportunities in their own country. This principle had in effect been officially recognised in the New Economic Policy formula that “no particular group experiences any loss or feels any sense of deprivation” under the NEP.
This is important principle must never deviated from, especially as our non-Malay children are not responsible for the educational backwardness of the Malays. Nor is it the fault of the Non-Malay forefathers, like the Chinese, who came to Malaysia from China with barehands, probably only with a singlet, and through their sweat, blood and tears, helped build up Malaysia’s prosperity today. The forefathers of the Chinese and Indians did not stop the Malays from going to schools or universities.
If we want to trace the cause of Malay educational backwardness, then we must put the blame on the British colonial education system. If we want to go deeper to find out the cause of bumiputera educational backwardness, then the Malay society at that time must also bear the blame.
Any policy which requires our children to pay for the sins of their forefathers is totally unacceptable, what more, when in this case, their forefathers had not sinned. It must be a thousand times, a million times, more difficult and unacceptable to demand children of any time and place to pay for the sins, not of their forefathers, but of other people’s forefathers.
Malaysia must break away from such divisive concepts and forces. Let us all stop talking about the cause of the Original Sin, and deal with the problem as we face them today. Malaysia is a plural society which comprises races of tremendous diversity. Malaysia of all races do not have a common past, but they must build a common future.
Malaysians must adopt Malaysian approaches and attitudes to all national problems, and eschew racial or chauvinistic solutions which can only damage Malaysian nation building. In higher education, for instance, the Government should abandon this 2% University Place Increase Policy and substitute in with a Liberal University Places Policy which will provide higher education to every eligible Malay student while at the same time without denying qualified non-Malay students opportunities of higher education in their own country. This could be achieved by:
1. Expansion of University places in the existing five local universities;
2. Establishment of at least two new universities in Malaysia under the Forth Malaysia Plan, one of which should be sited in East Malaysia, probably Sarawak.
3. Encouragement of the establishment of private universities to enable private Malaysians to help the government to bear the heavy burden of higher education. If the Deputy Prime Minister could spend so much time every year going round the world soliciting for private investment and industries, there is no reason why the Government should block and object to the establishment of private universities. Of course, to do this, the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 would have to be amended, and in this light, it is deplorable that a DAP attempt to amend this Act in Parliament in 1978 was defeated through the combined votes of the Barisan parties like MCA, Gerakan, SUPP, UMNO, etc.
DAP supports proposal for the holding of a Malaysian Conservation Day 1980 featuring Batu Caves on October 12, 1980
Yesterday, together with Sdr.Lee Lam Thye, Chairman of DAP Committee to save Batu Caves and other committee members, SDR.Mahadevan Nair, Sdr.K.Raman, I attended a meeting convened by the Environment at Protection Society of Malaysia (EPSM) at Hotel Majestic, Kuala Lumpur, for concerned environmental, conservationist and other concerned groups and organisations to discuss ways and means of saving the 440-million-year-old Batu Caves as a national heritage and religious shrine of 860,000 Hindus through securing the immediate half of limestone blasting there by two quarries.
As I announced on August 15, when disclosing the setting up of a DAP Save Batu Caves Committee to join forces with other environmentalist, conservation and other concerned organisations and individuals to save Batu Caves, we propose the holding of a Batu Caves Day on Sept. 7 to highlight and focus national attention on the matter, and to use it as an occasion to create a higher national environmental and conservation consciousness.
We have made it very clear more than once however that it is not the DAP’s role to pre-empt the role which had been played by established environment environmentalist and conservationist organisations like the Environment Protection Society, the Malayan Nature Society, the Batu Caves Protection Society, the Friends of Earth, etc. – and that we propose to play only a subordinate or subsidiary role.
As the meeting yesterday was of the view that a Malaysian Conservation Day, featuring the Batu Caves issue, be held on October 12, 1980 at Batu Caves, the DAP supports this proposal.
The Menteri Besar of Selangor, Datuk Hormat Rafei, had failed to give convincing reason for the further six-month extension for quarrying activities, nor why he had given two separate dates for the new deadline-the latest being Dec.31,1980.
Sustained public pressure is needed to demand immediate halting to the blasting to prevent irreplaceable destruction to the Batu Caves.