Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at KL DAP premises on Tuesday, 19.1.1982 at 2.30pm
1. DAP MP s jointly requisition for Emergency Parliamentary meeting to suspend 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools;
2. Warns that if the 3M implementation in Chinese andTamil primary schools continues to be implemented, th Barisan Nasional will claim after nest general election that it had popular mandate to continue its implementation, even if it means progressive and irreversible erosion of character.
On behalf of the 13DAP Members of Parliament, I had yesterday written to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Syed Nasir, requisitioning an Emergency Parliamentary meeting to suspend the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools to reserve their character fully intact, and to uphold the important principle in a multi-racial country that the government would fully respect the wishes of the community before implementing any measure affecting its mother-tongue education, language or culture at variance from the status quo.
My letter to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed reads:
“On behalf of the 13DAP Members of Parliament, I write to request for the convening of an Emergency meeting of Parliament immediately to discuss the implementation of the 3M, and specifically, to suspend the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools until the Malaysian Chinese and Indian communities could be assured of two preconditions:
(I) that the character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools would not change progressively and irreersibly;
(II) that the academic standards in Chinese and Tamil primary schools would not suffer adversely, e.g. mathematics in Chinese primary schools and English in both Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
As you are aware, since the announcement by the Eduction Minister, Datuk Dr. Sulaimann Daud, on Dec. 30 about the details of 3M implementation, the Malaysian Chinese community in particular had reacted in unison in opposing the implementation of the 3M I Chinese primary schools as likely to change its character, progressively and irreversibly.
The cabinet had met twice since the Education Minister’s announcement and the nation-wide furore and opposition to the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and we had hoped htat the Cabinet would heed and respect the reactions of the communities directly affected by suspending the 3M implementation in the Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
Unfortunately, this was not to be. In view of the gravity and urgency of this matter, with its far-reaching consequences on the educational future of our children and the cultural rights of the various communities in the country, we feel that it is most important that Parliament should be summoned into Emergency meeting on debate the 3M issue and to suspend its implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
This is an infinitely more important matter than the harmonising of a uniform time for the whole country by advancing the clock forward by half an hour for Peninsular Malaysia, for which an Emergency Parliamentary meeting was summoned.
The 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools in the face of widespread opposition of the Chinese and Indian communities violate an important principles in a multi-racial country that the government must fully respect the wishes of the community before implementing any measure affecting its mother-tongue education, language or culture at variance from the status quo.
We ate writing separately to the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Syed Nasir, forwarding the motion we propose to present at the Emergency Parliament meeting, namely:
‘That this House
NOTES the widespread opposition by the Chinese and Indian communities to the implementation of the 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools because of its change in their character;
NOTES the reservations among parents as a whole as to whether the 3-M system is a better educational system to enable our children to acquire the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic;
DECLARES that it is an important principles of nation building in a multi-racial country practicing parliamentary democracy that the Government would fully respect the wishes of the community before implementing any measure affecting its mother-tongue education, language or culture at various from the status quo;
RESOLVES that 3M implementation for Chinese and Tamil primary schools be suspended immediately to respect the wishes of the communities concerned and to honour the government pledge that there would be no change of character of these schools in an manner;
RESOLVES to suspend the full implementation of the 3M system for all primary schools in the country planned to begin next year until an experimental period had shown that the 3M system is a superior system to the present one.
FURTHER RESOLVES that to alley fears of the erosion of character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, that Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Educational Act should be repealed and the Mahathir Cabinet Education Committee Report amended to provide that the continuation of Chinese and Tamil primary schools is not a temporary expedient but a Permanent feature of the National education system.’
We hope that you would agree to the convening of this Emergency Parliamentary meeting on the 3M in view of its urgent importance, and also in the light of your pronouncements since taking office as Prime Minister of wanting a more open and accountable Government.”
The DAP is now demanding an Emergency Parliamentary meeting on 3M because the first two stages to prevent its implementation had failed.
The 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools should never been allowed in the first instance to become a ‘fait accompli’, where the struggle to preserve the integrity of mother-tongue education had already been placed in a distinct disadvantage, involving a grave setback.
The 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools should never be allowed to get beyond the Education Ministry level if there is a competent, responsible and vigilant Deputy Education Minister, and vigilant MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC leaders. HAVING got through the first stage, it should not have been allowed to get through the second stage, namely the Cabinet level.
The Cabinet Ministers of MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC should have collectively stoppering the 3M implementation in its tracks at the first Cabinet meeting on 6th January, 1982, but this they failed.
Despite all the fierce statements by MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC leaders, the fact is that the 3M implementation has entered into its third week, and the Cabinet Ministers are doing nothing to have it suspended.
The third stages is now Parliamentary Secretaries and Mps who oppose the calling of an Emergency Parliamentary meeting to suspend the 3M are going around saying that there was no point in having an Emergency Parliamentary meeting. They say that even if all the Chinese and Indian MP s gang up together, they would not constitute a majority to get any motion adopted.
The MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC Ministers and MP s are deliberately trying to mislead the people.
It is true that if all the DAP, MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC Ministers, Deputy Minister, Parliamentary Secretaries and MP s vote ads one for the suspension of he 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, they would not be able to constitute the majority if the UMNO MP s voted as a solid bloc against the motion.
But parliamentary democracy in a multi-racial country like Malaysia cannot operated on the basis of numbers. An even important principle, if not yet accepted, must be established that in matters which directly affect the sensitivities of anyone particular community, the other communities, even if it possesses the parliamentary votes, should not impose its parliamentary numbers in utter disregard of the fact that the affected or aggrieved community is solidly united against the measure.
In this particular case, if it is made very clear that all the MP s of Chinese and Indian origin, irrespective of party, are solidly united in reflecting and representing the legitimate wishes of the Malaysian Chinese and Indian communities in wanting the 3M suspended to preserve the character of Chinese and Tamil primary school, it would be most foolhardy for the government to rely on its UMNO votes in Parliament to ram the measure down the throat of the other communities.
I believe Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa are, above all, political realists and would accepts that for a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural society to survive, the united and legitimated wishes of any one community that the status quo be preserved and remain unchanged must be respected. Otherwise, the whole fabric of Malaysian nation building would be shattered.
It is only when there are Ministers and MP s who in Cabinet and Parliament are not prepared to come out uncompromising against the 3M that the government could continue with its implementation.
Yesterday, the whole country’s attention was riveted on a very high-level government briefing to the newspaper editors about the 3M, for it would represent the Government’s latest stand on the 3M.
The briefing as reported in some local press is a great disappointment, for the Government had made no attempt to understand the reasons for the opposition to the implementation of 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, by acceding to the demands that it should fulfil the pre-condition that their character are not affected.
The addition of 10 Chinese songs to the original 36 songs in nothing new, for these 10 Chinese songs are already in the Teachers’ Source Book for Chinese language. What is not mentioned is that in the Teachers’ Sourcebook for the Moral Education, there is another list of 20 Malay songs and 26 Malay pantuns.
The proposed translation of teachers’ instructional materials into Chinese and Tamil in unacceptable, for they must be written originally in Chinese and Tamil within the framework given by the syllabi.
For the 62 Chinese primary schools selected for 3M implementation, the change in their character has started. We cannot allow trial in the change in character of Chinese primary schools, but enly trial for a better educational method.
Every day of 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools means truth another day of character change.
Now that the Cabinet’s position on 3M is very clear, the MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, the Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the SUPP Chairman, Datuk Tan Sri Ong Kee Hui, must let the people know clearly and without equivocation whether their parties support the present 3M implementation, or oppose it. There can be no third position anymore.
This is important, for whatever the Barisan leaders talk about the 3M issue as an education issue and not a political issue, if the 3M system in its present form continued, then after the general elections expected in April or August, the Barisan Nasional government would claim that it has the popular mandate to carry out the 3M implementation to its very conclusion, even if it means the progressive and irreversible erosion of character of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
If the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP cannot halt the implementation of 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools before the general elections it is clearly unthinkable that it could do anything at all after the nest general elections.
The MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers must bear certain responsibility for the fact that the UMNO Ministers and leaders do not seem to take the 3M issue seriously. Datuk Sanusi Junid even tries to treat the issue as a joke, when he said he would debate the 3M issue in Tamil and Mandarin. It is significant that his remark was not reported in the Malay Rumi and Jaw I press, showing that he has no serious intention for a public debate at all.
If the UMNO leaders tend to regard the issue as a ‘joke’ and MCA, as some of their leaders had sad publicly, as a ‘small issue’, then the Government would be strengthened in their intention to proceed with the 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools. The time has come for MCA， Gerakan and SUPP to stand up and let everyone know where it really stands with the continued implementation of 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.