Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on the Ministry of Education 1981 first supplementary estimates in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday, 9th April 1981
Call on Minister of Education to rectify the step-children treatment of Chinese and Tamil primary schools under the Fourth Malaysia Plan by providing at least 50% of the $518 million earmarked for primary schools for development of Chinese and Tamil primary schools
I move a $10 cut to the supplementary development vote for $60 million for primary schools to highlight a area of grave neglect in primary education ever since the launching of the New Economic Policy in 1971.
This is the step-children treatment of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, which were by and large, left to fend for themselves.
There was hardly and development and expansion of Chinese and Tamil primary schools although the enrolment for Chinese primary schools had continued to exceed previous figures.
Chinese primary schools had to depend on public donations to build new classrooms, to build school halls, canteens, and even to renovate their buildings. This is a crying shame.
I remember that the Deputy Education Minister, who is also MCA leader Chan Siang Sum, had defended the policy of the government that Chinese primary schools which have not been handed over completely to the government would not receive full development aid in the form of building of classrooms, etc, but will at most get a dollar-to-a-dollar aid.
This is mot unfair and unacceptable. In fact, the government should give preferential treatment to Chinese primary schools, which are still private property of the Chinese community, because the Chinese community has made great contribution in helping the Government in the provision of education by allowing their private school property to be used by the Government. The government should work out a scheme where by more aid is given to Chinese primary schools and not the reverse, whereby at most, government development aid is confined to a dollar-to-dollar basis.
From 1971 to 1978, the development expenditures for national primary schools was $239,519,483 or 91% of total expenditure; Chinese primary schools $18,097,380 or 7% and Tamil primary schools $5,892,660 or 2%.
This is grossly unfair, and this step-children treatment of Chinese and Tamil primary schools must be rectified and redressed. The Minister of Education should give a firm assurance that under the Fourth Malaysia Plan there would be fair treatment of development needs of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, including the building of new Chinese primary schools, and that at least 50% of the %518 million earmarked of primary school development under the Fourth Malaysia Plan 1981-1985 would be spent on Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
For there to be full-scale development of Chinese primary schools, it is a pfe-condition that the Government make it without a shadow of doubt its policy that Chinese and Tamil primary schools will never be converted to national primary schools, and that the Barisan Nasional government is not merely waiting for the ripe time for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools.
The Cabinet Committee Report on Education under the chairmanship of Dr. Mahathir recommended in Paragraph 31.3 with regard to Chinese and Tamil primary schools that ‘memandangkan keadaan sekarang ini, adalah diperakukan supaya sistem persekolahan peringkat rendah yang sedia ada diteruskan.”
Paragraph 970 of the Fourth Malaysia Plan, on educational progress from 1971-1980, said:” In line with the Education Act, 1961, Government and Government-aided schools at the primary level which used Chinese or Tamil language as the medium of instruction continued o exist.”
The operative words are ‘continued to exist’, which gives the impression that Chinese and Tamil primary schools were being tolerated, not functioning as of right.
Will Chinese primary schools end by the end of the Eighties?
On educational programmes for 1981-1985, the FMP, in Paragraph 998 states:
“The use of Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction will continue to be progressively implemented such that by the end of the eighties it will be the main medium of instruction at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.”
If Bahasa Malaysia becomes the main medium of instruction at all primary, secondary and tertiary levels by the end of the Eighties, this means that Chinese and Tamil as main medium of instruction, would have ended and converted into national primary schools.
I call on the Minister of Education to explain clearly the government’s policy on Chinese and Tamil primary schools. Is it because it is the intention of the Barisan Nasional to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools under Clause 21(2) of the Education Act 1961 that Haji Suhaimi and Haji Jelani, both of whom had called for the closure of Chinese and Tamil primary schools at the UMNO Youth Conference last year, were not prosecuted for sedition offences?
It is public knowledge that it is the intention of the Barisan Nasional Government to implement Clause 21(2) of the Education Act to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools. Although in the early 70s, a serious attempt to implement it was abandoned when the people demonstrated by their clear support for the DAP that they were set against any such move, has the new target date for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act been shifted from the early 1970s to the late 1980s.
I call on the Government to accept the wishes and aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese and Indians that they want, and have a right for eternity so long as there is Malaysia – and that Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act should be repealed to set this matter to rest forever. So long as Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act remains, then so long is the future of Chinese and Tamil primary schools hanging by a thread, under a Damocles’ Sword.
Call for clear Ministry explanation as to how the 3Ms System would affect the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools
The proposed 3Ms system has raised fears among Chinese educational circles that it would lead to change in the character of Chinese primary schools. I call on the Ministry of Education to give a clear explanation as to how the 3Ms system would affect the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
At a recent conference on the 3Ms at the University Kebangsaan, a resolution was adopted proposing that in the implementation of the 3Ms, Bahasa Malaysia should become the ‘first language’ in Chinese and Tamil primary schools. This must mean the displacement of Chinese and Tamil as the main medium of instruction respectively in these schools, leading to the change in the character of Chinese primary schools and Tamil primary schools.
I call on the Ministry of Education to convene a conference with officials from Tung Chung and Chiau Chung to discuss the implications and implementation of the 3Ms for Chinese primary schools, and to ensure that success of the 3Ms without affecting in any manner or degree the character of Chinese primary schools, to work closely with officials from the Tung Chung and Chiau Chung in every step of the 3M process, from formulation to implementation.
In the decade from 1971 to 1980, a total of 12,087 classrooms for primary schools were built in Peninsular Malaysia, 876 in Sabah and 1,531 in Sarawak to cater for increased enrolment and to reveal as to how many of these classrooms were for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Similarly, under the Fourth Malaysia Plan 1971-75, 8,000 new classrooms for primary schools would be constructed, and I ask the Minister to give a breakdown as to how many of the classrooms would be for Chinese Tamil primary and national primary schools.