By Parliamentary Opposition Leaders, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Monday, 27.7.81:
Call on new Education Minister, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, to exert pressure on the British government to reduce fees for Malaysian student studying in the United Kingdom.
The drastic increase of school fees for overseas students in the United Kingdom has gravely hit Malaysian student in UK. This is a short-sighted British policy, which will do great harm to the continued close relationship between the two countries and damage the cultural ties established between Britishers and Malaysians because of educational facilities in the UK.
I call on the new Education Minister, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, to exert pressure on the British government to reduce fees for Malaysian students in the United Kingdom.
I have received a letter from the President of the City of London polytechnic students’ Union, C.K.Wee, which reflects the bitterness of Malaysian student in UK who are caught by the financial of the UK government.
In this letter, Mr. Wee said:
“The Rt. Hon’ble Lim Kit Siang Mp 13 July 1981
House of Parliament
Dear Mr. Lim,
BOYCOTT BRITISH EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
We are writing to you, as Opposition Leader, in connection with the exorbitant level of school fees charged to Overseas Student in the U.K. (i.e. 2,470 for 1980/81 and 2,900 for 1981/82).
The latest move by the British government to charge the Overseas Students a sum of money for their health care is yet another explicitly discriminating policy. As in the case of school fees, it is based on unsound economic thinking and it is blatantly racist, a measure which designed to cause maximum distress, hardship and worry to Overseas Students in this country. The details have not been worked out but most probably passports will be required form Overseas Students when health care is needed. This unfortunately will have repercussions on home blacks who may thus suffer an added indignity in their homeland.
Our greatest worry, though, is for the Overseas Students, in particular Malaysian students contemplating to enter British educational institutions in the near future. The added burden will almost certainly prove a severe setback for the families or sponsors of these students. For this reason and to save the country’s potential students the trouble of studying in UK, we urge you to call upon the Malaysian government to consider the complete boycott or British educational institutions by Malaysian students.
Things have already gone too far. Overseas students are the lifeblood of the British educational institutions which are feeling the pinch. The message, though, has not struck home and already some universities and polytechnics are mounting recruiting campaigns to get vitally needed cash. We think they are clutching at straws. But to make this hope an even more distant one, we again urge the Malaysian Government to encourage her people to turn to Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA or indeed any other country in Western Europe.
“Although we often hear Heads of British educational institutions condemning this Government education policy, in particular on overseas students, the evident inertia on their part clearly indicate that they are not prepared, and have no intention, to seek modification, but continuous accommodation.
“We are urging you to call upon the Malaysian Government to decide on other reprisals against Britain in order to exert maximum pressure on the British Government and to isolate it from the international community.
“We strongly believe that the Malaysian Government and other Commonwealth Governments could exert some positive influence and pressure on the British Government by considering other moves such as following:
1. taking economic sanctions against Britain in whatever way possible;
2. Expose and condemn the racist policies of the British Government in as many international channels as possible. (UNESCO, COMMONWEALTH SONFERNCE , ASEAN etc).
“We strongly believe that this is the only effective action against the British Government in the form of boycotting completely their higher educational system which could provoke some reasonable and moderate modification.”
The British Government should head the bitterness and frustration of overseas students in UK because of the unconscionable increase in overseas student school fees, and should take steps to amolierate the hardships caused to overseas student in the interests of sowing close relationships and ties between the our respective countries in future.