Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at a dinner organized by the DAP Tranquerab Branch in Malacca on 8th January, 1982 at 8 p.m. to celebrate the Party’s 15th Anniversary.
DAP calls on MCA, Gerakan, SUPP Ministers and Members of Parlaiment to join it in demanding for an emergency meeting of Parliament to suspend the 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Yesterday, a DAP delegation comprising Party Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, Vice Chairman, Chan Kok Kit, Deputy Secretary General, Lee Lam Thye, National Treasurer, Lee Kaw, Organising Secretary, P.Patto, Director of Political Bureau, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw and Cultural Secretary, Liew Ah Kim and myself met the Education Minister Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud, the Director General of Education, Tan Sri Datuk Murad Mohd Noor, his two deputy Director Generals and the Director of the Cucciculum Development Centre, Cik Asiah bte Abusamah, for over 2 hours on the implementation of the 3M system.
The DAP presented a memorandum and submitted arguments for, firstly, the suspension of the 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools to preserve their character, and secondly, to suspend the full implementation of the 3M system for all primary schools scheduled for next year until an experimental period has shown that the 3M system is superior to the present education system.
After the meeting , the DAP has studied in great detail the clarification by the Minister and his officers on the various aspects of the implementation of the 3M system, as well as his statement that the 3M system will not change the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools and was based on the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report on Education.
The DAP had also studied in detail the whole set of 3M syllabus, educational and guidance books for teachers which the Minister had been kind enough to give to the DAP. The DAP also studied the Education Minister’s statement on the 3M issued yesterday evening.
Taking into account the new facts and information the DAP had received about the 3M implementation, and the Education Minister’s statement yesterday, made after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, the DAP has become convinced than ever that the 3M implementation n Chinese and Tamil primary schools represent a grave threat to their present character and integrity.
For instance, the Education Minister and his officials cannot claim that the character of Chinese primary schools had not been changed when Std 1 pupils could not sing the traditional Chinese primary schools songs anymore, but could only sing Malay songs.
The Deputy Directors General of Education, Tan Sri Datuk Murad, had argued that the character will not be changed because the Chinese language will continue to be the media of instruction to teach the Bahasa Malaysia music and songs.
The DAP rejects this line of argument as highly preposterous and unacceptable, for otherwise, it would set the precedent in future for the so-called continued use of the Chinese language as medium of instruction to teach “Malaysian history”, “Malaysian Geography”, “Malaysian Civics”, which are written in Bahasa Malaysia texts, like the songs – which are with Bahasa Malaysia lyrics.
Although the DAP delegations was told that a few of the 36 songs are from Chinese songs, we cannot find a single Chinese song yet. 18 are clearly Malay songs, while the other 18 are a missed lot of Malay songs and other nursery rhymes like “twinkle twinkle little star”, “row, row, row your boat” without a single one from traditional Chinese primary school songs.
I know there will be those who will argue that Malay songs are Bahasa Malaysia songs, and that those who oppose our children learning Bahasa Malaysia songs are not loyal to Malaysia. We must reject any such extremist and chauvinist circumvents, for if such line of argument is accepted, a day will come when there will be those who will assert that those who oppose the complete study of primary school subjects in Bahasa Malaysia are also anti-national.
As Chinese primary schools, they must retin their distinctive character, one of which is that Chinese primary upils could sing Chinese children songs. Chinese parents are not opposed to their children learning Malay songs like “Burung Kakak Tua” or “Tepuk amai-amai” or “Rasa Sayang eh”, after they have learned the traditional Chinese primary schools songs. It is completely different matter however if they could only sing Malay songs.
Under the 3M system, there will be no text books for Std 1 pupils except in Mathematics. The rest of the subjects will completely depend on the imagination, motivation and sense of responsibility of the teachers, who are provided with instructional materials like syllabus, general and special guidelines and song books.
These instructional materials are all in Bahasa Malaysia. Although the Education Minister said that these materials are merely samples and that teacher chould devise their own examples and lessons, it is likely that the overwhelming number of teachers will merely depend on these official samples, in the way they had depended on textbooks in the past.
For teachers who do not understand the materials in Bahasa Malaysia, their pupils will suffer. For teachers who can understand, they will be using materials devoid of the elements of the Chinese cultural value system which should be inculcated in Chinese primary schools.
The only way to overcome this problem is by having all these instructional materials written originally in Chinese for Chinese primary schools, and not as requested by the MCA in just merely having translations.
Otherwise, the change in character of Chinese primary schools would come about progressively where teachers become the unconscious agents of such change.
The DAP and the Chinese community are most disappointed that the first 1982 Cabinet meeting held last Wednesday did not decide on the immediate suspension of the 3M system for Chinese primary schools. By its inaction, it in fact implied Cabinet approval for its continued implementation.
What did the MCA, Gerakan, SUPP ministers do to voice and represent the legitimate constitutional aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese community?
As the MCA, Gerakan, SUPP ministers did not think the matter important enough to attend or raise the 3M issue at last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, MCA, Gerakan, SUPP branches and members at all levels should either demand for an emergency national congress of their respective parties, or they will stand exposed on their sincerity on the 3M issue.
As the Education Minister and Cabinet has openly disregarded the legitimate demands of the Chinese community for the suspension of the 3M system for Chinese primary schools, the DAP calls for the convening of an emergency meeting of Parliament to decide on the suspension of the 3M implementation.
I also call on MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and Members of Parliament to join the AP in making a joining demand for such a emergency Parliamentary meeting which should get to the root of the problem in ensuring that Chinese primary schools would forever become an integral part of the national education system, through the adoption of 3 measures:
1. the immediate suspension of the 3M system for Chinese and Tamil primary schools until they could be implemented in their respective media of instruction;
2. to repeal Clause 21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act to remove the power of the Education Minister to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools with a stroke of the pen;
3. amendment of the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report on Education to provide that the continuation of Chinese and Tamil primary schools is a permanent feature and not a temporary expedient.
I will be getting in touch with the MCA, Gerakan, SUPP leaders tomorrow and I hope on this grave and crucial issue they will have courage to rise above petty, personal or party interest to stand firmly in the defence of the fundamental principles which go to the very root of the question of whether Malaysia is to be a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural society or otherwise.