Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at a meeting organised by the Tamil Literary Society to discuss the effects of the 3M system on Tamil primary schools held on Sunday, 14th February, 1982 at 9.30 a.m. at the Transport Workers’ Union Hall, P. Jaya.
Call on Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chan Siang Sun, not to mislead the people about the 3M
The Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chan Siang Sun, said in Ipoh on Friday that the government had taken an enlightened attitude on the 3M issue and had acceded to public request, particularly in having the 3M teachers’ manuals written in the respective mother tongue languages.
Datuk Chan who had made a name of himself by confessing total ignorance about the 3M details until the announcement by the Education Minister, Datuk Sulaiman Daud, on December 30, although the Education Ministry had spent 5 long years on the 3M, should not mislead the people.
Up to now, the government had announced that it would allow the 3M teaching materials, written originally in Bahasa Malaysia to be translated into Chinese or Tamil, and as of January 20, the government said it had not decided whether such translation would be done officially or by private individuals at their own initiative.
I have been informed that the MCA had embarked on the project to translate the 3M teaching materials from Bahasa Malaysia into Chinese. I do not know whether the MIC is also trying to translate the materials from Bahasa Malaysia into Tamil. But these are completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable for what is required is not their translation from a Bahasa Malaysia master copy but their original being written in Chinese or Tamil languages in the original instance.
Datuk Chan must explain clearly whether he meant that the 3M teaching materials would be translations from Bahasa Malaysia into Chinese or Tamil or whether they could be written originally in Chinese and Tamil completely unrelated to the Bahasa Malaysia version or from each other.
This is because mother tongue education is not merely learning to read and write the mother tongue, but even more important, to develop cultural roots for the pupils concerned by imbibing the ethical values and cultural traditions of the culture.
This is best learnt by stories of mythological and historical figures in each culture by learning about the lifes, achievements, exploits, the heroes, the saints, the matyrs or the misdeeds, crimes, or betrayals of the villians and traitors, to distinguish between good and bad, the noble and the ignoble and how to be a good man and useful citizen.
The syallabi for moral education for non-Islamic students is also inappropriate. For Muslim students, they learn Islamic Studies but for non-Muslim students, they learn moral education.
For such moral education, certain universal values are selected unrelated to the richness of each culture past to teach the desirable values. In such circumstances, Chinese and Tamil schools would begin to lose their character even if the medium of instruction remain unchanged.
It is ironical that while the 3M is being implemented to enable children to communicate their thoughts and ideas, one of the first thing that is being done under the 3M implementation is to prevent the parents and the public to communicate their thoughts and ideas on the 3M.
I want to assure the 2M leadership that parents who opposed the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools do so not because of any perverse desire to challenge and undermine governmental authority but because of their sincere objections to any change in character in mother tongue education.
The government should listen and heed the legitimate views and aspirations of the parents so that in a multi-racial society the government can be fully representative of the entire spectrum of the Malaysian people. Only on this basis can a strong, united and cohesive nation be established.