by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary General, Lim Kit Siang on 29th January 1982
Call on Dr. Mahathir to conduct a referendum in the 62 Chinese primary schools to ascertain and abide by the wishes of the parents whether they want the 3M system implemented.
The boycott of the 3M Standard One classes by the parents of the Yu Hua Chinese primary school in Kajang and the Semenyih New Village Chinese primary school yesterday is a very loud and legitimate expression by the parents concerned of their opposition to the 3M implementation. The government must accept and respect parental expression.
Malaysian practises parliamentary democracy where the wishes of the people are held in high esteem, unlike undemocratic, totalitarian countries where the ruling authorities disregard the views ot the people and just ram down their throats unpopular and unacceptable policies.
In view of the fact that the whole issue of the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools involves not only an educational question but also the very sensitive matter of the character of mother tongue, I call on the Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to conduct a referendum in the 62 Chinese primary schools to as certain and abide by the wishes of the parents as to whether they want the 3M to be implementation in their children’s schools.
The government should undertake to suspend immediately the 3M implementation if the parents are overwhelmingly of that view. Before the referendum is conducted, government ministers and Education Ministry officials can hold as many meeting as they think necessary to explain and try to convince the parents of the merit of the 3M system so that the government should have no cause to feel that it had been denied the opportunity to present a full and correct picture of the 3M to the parents concerned or resort to the excuse that there have been people trying to distort the whole 3M question.
If such a referendum is conducted in the 62 Chinese primary schools, with the government undertaking to abide by the parents’ wishes, the DAP is prepared to refrain from conducting meetings with the parents concerned on the 3M matter a no to leave it completely to the Barisan ministers and Education Ministry officials to try to win over “the hearts and minds of the parents”.
It is most regrettable that the Barisan Nasional government with its component MCA, Gerakan and SUPP ministers has continued to disregard the legitimate wishes of the Chinese community with regard to their demand for the immediate suspension of the 3M in Chinese primary schools to preserve in full not only the outer trappings but also the inner essence of the character of Chinese primary schools.
The MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, has said that “he felt very insulted and belittled” by the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools and that the thought the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister would fell likewise as they were also members of the Cabinet Committee which recommended the 3M.
But it is now clear that both Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa Hitam did not feel in any way insulted or belittled by the 3M implementation for they appear to be turning their wrath on the critics of such implementation.
It is most disturbing that MCA, Gerakan and SUPP ministers and leaders have now agreed to a trial period for the 3M, as could be seen by the fact that it is proceeding , week after week. The Gerakan advisor and Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Yu, had openly called on the people to give the 3M system “a fair trial” on the ground that the 3M system was not being implemented yet but was merely a pilot test project.
This is a deliberate distortion of fact by Dr. Lim Chong Yu. A trial project will mean that there will be a period for the government to evaluate its result and to consider whether it should be fully implemented or abandoned. In this case, the full implementation of the 3M for all primary schools and language streams had already been decided to begin from nest year, regardless of the outcome of the implementation of the 3M in the 302 selected schools.
The 3M implementation in the 302 schools this year therefore is not a trial project but the first stage in the 3M implementation.
If the 3M implementation is a trial project, would the government abandon it in the Chinese primary schools if all the parents in the 62 Chinese primary schools demanded for its abandonment?
The contrary is likely to be the case. By next year, the Barisan Nasional government could in fact claim that it had the mandate in the nest general elections expected in April or August fully implement the 3M system in Chinese primary schools.
There cannot be a trial period which involves a change in character of mother tongue education. The Barisan Nasional government must immediately respect the wishes of the people and stop the further implementation of the 3M system in Chinese primary schools.