by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Saturday, 22nd August 1981:
DAP calls on Education Minister, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, to defer full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia in Sarawak schools by two years
I have written to the Education Minister, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, suggesting that the full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia in Sarawak schools should be deferred by two years.
My letter to the Education Minister reads:
Dr. Sulaiman Daud,
Minister for Education, Ministry of Education,
Yang Berhormat Dr. Sulaiman,
Proposal that the full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia for Sarawak schools be deferred by two years.
I have just returned recently from a visit to Sarawak, and Sarawak parents and students have expressed grave concern about your announcement of full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia for Sarawak schools from next year, where a pass in Bahasa Malaysia will be compulsory in order to get a LCE certificate, and from 1984, a pass in Bahasa Malaysia mandatory for a MCE certificate.
The Bahasa Malaysia standards of Sarawak students cannot be compared with Peninsular Malaysia students and more time must be given to effect the full transition for Sarawak schools. In 1979, only 40 per cent of From III students in Sarawak passed the Bahasa Malaysia paper as compared to 82.2% in Peninsular Malaysia, In 1979, only 37.8% of Form Five students in Sarawak passed the Bahasa Malaysia paper and the pass rate went down further to 31.7% last years.
There is no compelling reason for rushing through the full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia for Sarawak schools, as in two years time, beginning in 1984, Form III students will in Sarawak will be sitting for the Malay-medium SRP and LCE would have been phased out.
This is because beginning next year, all Form One students in Sarawak government shools would be taught in the Bahasa Malaysia medium as all English primary schools in Sarawak have this year been completely converted switched to national primary schools.
This means that by 1984, there would be no more LCE and all Form III Sarawak, students would be sitting for the Bahasa Malaysia-medium SRP, and by 1986, there would be no more English-medium MCE examination for Form V students.
The full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia for Form III students in Sarawak would come about in 1984. To implement its fully nest year, as you proposed, would mean that the last two batch of English-medium students who are now in Form I and Form II this years, would face the distinct prospects of high failure rates at the LCE examination in 1982 and 1983, for failure rates at the LCE examination in 1982 and 1983, for failure to get a compulsory pass in Bahasa Malaysia. This is because of inadequate preprations, whether in terms of qualified teachers in Bahasa Malaysia, or other aspects.
This would be most unfair to the last two batch of English-medium students in Sarawak, and I would therefore urge you to reconsider and defer the full implementation of Bahasa Malaysia for Form III students in Sarawak by two years.
Your sincerely, LIM KIT SIANG
( Lim Kit Siang )