by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary General, Lim Kit Siang, on 27th January, 1982
Call on Dr. Mahathir to make genuine effort to understand the reasons for the Chinese community’s opposition to the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools so as to remove their dissatisfaction
The statement by the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, last Saturday on the 3M and his threat of government action against the critics of the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools is a most unfortunate statement since becoming Prime Minister.
It show that the Prime Minister has not fully understood the strong case of the Chinese community against the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools. While Dr. Mahathir’s statement that the government had no intention to convert national type schools into national schools and would not change the medium of instruction is welcome, he should make a genuine effort to understand the legitimate demand of the Chinese community that there should be no change of character of Chinese primary schools in any manner.
So long as the Prime Minister and the government refuse to accept the bone fides of the sincerity and legitimacy of the critics and opponents of the 3M implementation in its present form as likely to lead to character change, so long will the 3M issue become a source of national disunity and discord.
To threaten action against those who are opposed to the 3M implementation is counter-productive as it will only lead to more problems. The best way to solve the present controversy is for the Prime Minister to direct the immediate suspension of the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools and discuss fully with the legitimate representatives in Chinese primary schools and discuss fully with the legitimate representatives of the Chinese community on any implementation which will fully safeguard the character of mother tongue education.
Dr. Mahathir’ statement is all the more shocking as one must assume that he made it after he had fully discussed the 3M issue with MCA and Gerakan leaders. The Prime Minister has been given a most erroneous version of the reasons for the Chinese community’s opposition to the 3M implementation.
In order that such erroneous versions could be corrected., I would suggest that the Prime Minister meet the Tung Chung/ Chiao Chung representatives who had requested a meeting with him so that he could get the correct picture.
With regard to the Prime Minister’s explanation that the government has no intention to use Clause 21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act which vests powers on the Education Minister to convert national type primary schools into national primary schools when he deems fit on the grounds that this was an enabling clause. He said that the government will only carry out a conversion at the request of the school.
If this is the case, then the whole controversy over Clause 21(2) the last few years could easily be resolved by a clear-cut amendment to it to specifically provide that the Minister’s powers to convert national type primary schools into national primary schools is contigent on the request of the parents and the community where the schools is located.
I see no reasons why the government should find it difficult to make such an amendment which will go a long way to allay the fears of the Malaysian Chinese and Indians that the Chinese and Tamil primary schools would be converted under the clause against their wishes.
In fact, the government must shows itself to be more democratic and heedful of the wishes of the people. In the present case, the parents and not the Ministry of Education must have the final say as to whether they want their children to be educated under the 3M system. The DAP suggests that the Ministry of Education seek the opinion of the parents of students in the 302 schools where the 3M system is being implemented. If the parents are opposed to the 3M implementation, then the government should respect the wishes of the parents especially with regard to the 62 Chinese primary schools and 29 Tamil primary schools where the 3M is being implemented.