Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the Kota Bahru DAP Branch Dinner to commemorate the Party’s 15th Anniversary held at Kota Bahru, Kelantan, on Friday, 15.1.1982 at 8 p.m.
In view of lack of support from MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC, DAP MPs to go it alone to write officially to the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker to demand for Emergency Parliamentary Meeting to suspend the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Last week, I cabled the MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, the Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Kenf Yaik, the SUP Chairman, Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui and the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, suggesting common action by MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs, together with DAP MPs, to jointly requisition for a Special Emergency Parliamentary meeting to suspend the implementation of the 3M system in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
I had also asked them to reply expeditiously in view of the urgency and gravity of the matter.
Datuk Lee San Choon, on his return from leave in London, said on Monday night that the MCA would not support the DAP proposal for the convening of an emergency Parliamentary meeting on the 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools. This has exposed the hollowness of the various assertions by the MCA Youth Chairman, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, that the MCA was prepared to work in unison with all organizations including the DAP to defend the integrity and character of Chinese primary schools from the 3M implementation.
The SUPP Chairman, Tan Sri Ong Kee Hu, had sent me a cable in reply opposing the DAP proposal as “prejudicial to interest of community.” Tan Sri Ong’s cable reads:
“Reference your telegram SUPP delegation has made direct representation to Minister Education personally on Saturday 9th January Stop Submission made under consideration therefore consider at this stage further action prejudicial to interest of community.”
MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, had also publicly expressed opposition to the idea of an emergency Parliamentary meeting on the 3M. In fact, Datuk Samy Vellu had given full support to the implementation of 3M in Tamil primary schools, in direct opposition to the views of Tamil cultural and literary organizations which see the 3M implementation as a grave threat to the continued survival of Tamil primary schools.
Only Gerakan’s Dr. Lim Keng Yaik had not responded to the DAP cable, despite my request for a prompt reply because of the urgency and gravity of the matter. In these circumstances, I can only construe the lack of reply from Dr. Lim Keng Yaik as opposition too to the idea of an emergency Parliamentary meeting on the 3M, although Dr. Lim was not prepared publicly to say yes or no.
I regret that the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP, at the most critical juncture, back down ignominiously from standing up firmly for the principles of nation building, educational and cultural rights of a multi-racial people and the policies of integration as separate from a policy of assimilation.
This reminds me of their previous stand with regard to the proposed establishment of the Merdeka University. At the early stages, the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP branches and officials at the various levels expressed full and unconditional support for the Merdeka University proposal. Even the MCA Youth Central Committee and the MCA Education Bureau adopted resolutions expressing their uncompromising support for the Merdeka University proposal. But when it comes to the crunch, where a stand had to be taken in Cabinet and Parliament, they all forget their previous support for Merdeka University and joined UMNO in opposing it.
The same thing is happening on the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
In fact, the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP must bear the entire responsibility for the 3M implementation in 62 Chinese and Tamil primary schools this year, and its full implementation in the 1,300 Chinese primary schools throughout the country next year.
The MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chan Siang Sun, should have nipped in the bud any 3M implementation which leads to the undermining of the character and integrity of Chinese primary schools. The 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools could not have been decided on only on 30th December 1981, when the Education Minister Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud, announced it details. Its details must have been decided several months earlier, for Education Ministry officials, principles and teachers at various levels had to be briefed.
What was Datuk Chan Siang Sun doing in the Education Ministry these several months when the 3M implementation details for Chinese and Tamil primary schools were being worked out in his Ministry? Making a fool of himself in Parliament, talking about things he knew really nothing about?
The fault however is not Datuk Chan Siang Sun’s alone. The principle of collective responsibility of the Ministers bind every Minister to every major government policy or action.
In this case, the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers had failed to suspend the 3M implementation despite the holding of two Cabinet meetings in the last two Wednesdays since the announcement by Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud.
This means that the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools have the endorsement of the Cabinet and every Minister from MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC.
The MCA, Gerakan, SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs could still have redeemed themselves and publicly atone for their political failures and acts of irresponsibility by joining in the call for the convening of an emergency Parliamentary meeting to suspend the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Even this, the MAC, Gerakan and SUPP have refused to do. How can they make anyone believe that they are really opposed to the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools with all its wide-ranging repercussions on the character of these schools?
The people have a right to ask whether the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP are sincere in their various statements on the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, or just putting up a ‘shows’!
Probably, we should heed what the Political Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister, Encik Ajib Ahmad, said to the UMNO Youth workshop at Bukit Gantang, Perak on Sunday (as reported in the New Straits Times of January 11, 1982). Encik Ajib said that the MCA Youth need to be given a little allowance “to at least show they are fighting for Chinese rights.” If not, the Chinese might lose confidence in their leaders in the MCA, he said.
Encik Ajib said: “If they (MCA leaders) keep quiet about certain issues they will lose popularity. By defending certain rights and raising issues like the Merdeka University and a second deputy prime minister, they can win over the hearts of the Chinese voters.”
However, Encik Ajib said that the UMNO “was watching closely everything the MCA youth was doing and will tell them when thy go over the limits.”
Had the MCA, the MCA Youth, the Gerakan, SUPP all been told that they had “gone over the limits”, in particular Datuk Lee Kim Sai’s shoutings in Rawang and Ampang last weekend that the Bahasa Malaysia instructional materials for teachers “should be set on fire”!
Whatever political acrobatics the component Barisan parties are up to, the DAP is not prepared to play any political games on a matter which is so important not only for the educational and cultural rights of the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, but if all Malaysians as well.
This is because the questions of the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools ins not merely a question of a method of education, but goes to the basic issue as to what type of a Malaysian society we are building – whether we are building a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi –lingual and multi-religious Malaysian nationality, or a Malaysian nationality based on one culture, one race, on language and one religion.
Chinese ducation is not just a question of learning to read and writ Chinese language, but even more important, to imbibe the cultural traditions, ethical values and philosophy of life represented by three thousand years of Chinese culture, as a contribution to the final Malaysian multi-cultural product where the best of the different cultural traditions, ethical values and system found in Malaysia are integrated into a new Malaysian cultural value system.
In Chinese primary schools, this is brought about by imparting to the students the folk lores, myths and mythologies of Chinese culture, where through historical or semi-historical examples, the heroes and the villains, the martyrs and the traitors, the saintly and the wicked, the good and the evil they acquire the ethical values of how to be a good man and a useful citizen.
This will ensure that the young generation of Malaysian Chinese in Chinese primary schools have ‘cultural roots’, and not become derooted, deculturated, without cultural ballast, purpose or sense of direction, who could make no contribution to the making of a virile, enterprising and hardy Malaysian nationhood.
This is why the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools must be opposed, for they change the character of Chinese primary school and cut at the cultural coots of the young generation of Malaysian Chinese in Chinese primary schools.
Who can say that the character of the 62 Chinese primary schools selected for 3M implementation had not been altered already, when Std. One pupils could no sing the traditional Chinese primary school songs, but only Malay songs; could not recite the traditional Chinese children’s poems but Malay pantuns only?
Even if the 36 songs for 3M Chinese primary schools Std. One pupils are changed to the traditional Chinese primary school songs, the character had already been gravely affected with the writing of instructional materials for teachers which are devoid of the cultural traditions, ethical values and philosophy of life of the Chinese culture.
As the MCA, Gerakan, SUPP have backed out from the struggle to preserve the character and integrity of Chinese primary schools by refusing to have anything to do with the widespread national demand for the immediate suspension of the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, the DAP MPs will go it alone to requisition a Special Emergency Parliamentary Meeting to suspend the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Only a few weeks ago a Special Emergency Parliamentary meeting was called to bring about a uniform time for both Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak, by advancing time in Malay by half an Hour.
Compared to the 3M implementation, with its great repercussions on nation building in Malaysia, this is infinitely more important than the question of a common uniform time for the whole country, and warrants an Emergency Parliamentary meeting even more.
The DAP MPs would write to the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and the Speaker, Tan Sri Syed Nasir, requisitioning an Emergency Parliamentary meeting, and setting forth the reasons for such a requisition.