By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, on Monday, 18.1.1982:
Reply to Datuk Sanusi Junid
In reply to my challenge to Datuk Sanusi Junid to a public debate on the 3M, on its effect on the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools and as to whether it is a better educational system to impart the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, Datuk Sanusi has said that he accepted my challenge to a public debate provided that the debate was conducted in Tamil and Mandarin, and he wanted me to start the public debate in Tamil.
Datuik Sanusi is resorting to the classic excape from a public debate by appearing to accept the challenge but imposing ridiculous conditions so that it could not be held, and also to make a mackery of the whole idea.
Datuk Sanusi Junid should realise that a smattering knowledge either in Tamil or Mandarin to be able to say daily pleasantries like “Good morning” or ‘Are you well’ does not qualify a person to participate in a public debate in the language, as it would in fact be insulting the languages concerned.
Is Datuk Sanusi Junid trying to demonstrate what a student in Chinese and Tamil primary schools would acquire in terms of their language skills under the 3M system, illustrating himself as a real-life example speakin gin his smattering Tamil and Mandarin?
I do not claim to be a linguist, and I do not propose to debase a grave matter like the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, with its far reaching consequences on the educational future of young children and the cultural rights of the different communities in the country, by making ridiculous suggestions to make the whole matter look like a ‘circus’.
This again betr shows the lack of seriousness of the Barisan leaders about the 3< issue. If Datuk Sanusi Junid wants to display his Tamil in a public debate, we have DAP leaders who could keep him company. If he still wants to have a debate with me in Mandarin, I would keep him company any time - but I would advise him to bear in mind my remark that he should not insult the Chinese language by a smattering knowledge of daily pleasantries for the purpose of a serious public debate. I stand by my challenge to Datuk Sanusi Junid to a public debate on the 3M, either in Bahasa Malaysia, English, or if he really wants, in Mandarin, and I would advise him to give this matter all the seriousness it deserves. Otherwise, it would only reflect on his lack of responsibility and poor judgement as a Minister who is generally regarded as the fastest rising star in the 2-M cabinet.