Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, at a dinner organised by the Cheras Jaya DAP Branch on Saturday, 20th February 1982, at 7.30p.m.
Lim Kit Siang rebuts Dr. Mahathir and wants Prime Minister to explain what is wrong in the DAP asking the people opposed to the implementation of 3M in Chinese and Tamil primary schools to express themselves in the general election.
In his speech when opening the 3-day UMNO information course in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, charged that an opposition party had turned the 3M issue into a racial issue and that another party had fallen into its traps. He also criticised opposition parties for creating doubts among the people by turning non-issues to issues for their own political gain.
Although Dr. Mahathir did not name names, it is clear he was referring to the DAP in this instance and referring to the MCA as the party which had fallen into the trap.
Let me make it very clear that the DAP had no created the 3M issue, that it was the Barisan Nasional government though its indifference and insensitivity and as a matter policy, which created the issue.
Secondly, we in the DAP do not regard the 3M issue as a racial issue just we do not regard the important issue of the preservation and promotion of mother tongue education in the country and the various cultures as a racial or sectional issue. These are all Malaysian problems and issues, for their just and fair resolution to determine the future of not only any community but the nation as a whole. Nor do we create traps to ensnare any unsuspecting, innocent or downright stupid Barisan leaders to fall into.
The DAP ‘s objections to the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools had been publicly stated, not only in a series of public statements and speeches, but also in a official memorandum submitted to the Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Sulaiman, and in a letter to the Prime Minister himself.
We do so in exercise of our democratic rights and within the confines of the constitution and the law. We in the DAP do not apologise for our continues opposition to the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, for from all available information, including the briefing which the Education Minister and top education ministry officials had given to DAP leaders, we are convinced it would lead to a long-term change in the character of these schools even though the medium of instruction remain unchanged.
If the DAP’s objections to the 3M are completely baseless, then it would be very easy for the Barisan leaders to shoot them down and expose the hollowness of our arguments. Dr. Mahathir who has a reputation of enjoying such a public debate would not hesitate to extract maximum pleasure from such an exercise.
Why had not the Barisan leaders done so, but instead, imposed a clamp on public meetings on the 3M as happened in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur recently? This surely is not the act of those who are convinced of the rightness and strength of their arguments. What is more, such action can only reinforce the view that the DAP’s reasons are strong and irrebutable, and the only way to deal with them is to suppress them.
We are not like the MCA which is now looking for an excuse for its initial criticism of the 3M by making the UMNO big brother believe that their leaders have been tapped by the DAP.
I will like to know how MCA leaders could be trapped by DAP leaders. The Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chan Siang Sun, should explain how he was trapped by the DAP to declare that the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools was against the National Education Policy and even to deny knowledge about the 3M details until after the announcement by the Education Minister on December 30, 1981.
Again, the MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, who is a member of the Cabinet Committee on Education should explain how he was trapped by the DAP to come out with a statement declaring “that he was insulted and belittled” by the 3M implementation and that the MCA would dissociate itself from the 3M.
Now that the MCA reassociate itself with the 3M, it should have the courage to admit that in the initial days, it was trying to get political capital in giving the appearance of criticising the 3M instead of putting the blame on the DAP for having trapped it.
Gerakan leaders are more astute and skilful political operators as shown by Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’s interview in the Utusan Malaysia on Chinese New Year that the Gerakan supported the 3M and would not make “noises” against it like the MCA, so that they don’t have to backtrack and swallow their own spittle which the MCA leaders are now doing.
Whatever political acrobatics the MCA leaders are performing, the DAP remains steadfast in our demand that the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools should be immediately suspended.
This is not only the view of the DAP but the view of the overwhelming majority of the Chinese and Indian communities. If Malaysia practices parliamentary democracy, then Dr. Mahathir must respect the views of the people.
I want to ask Dr. Mahathir what is wrong in the DAP telling the non-Malays to support t it they are against the 3M implementation in Chinese and Tamil primary schools so as to gather public support to seek changes in government policies which run counter to public aspirations and even in expressing themselves in the coming general elections.
The fault really lies on the Barisan Nasional government which disregards public views on the matter and seek to ram the 3M system in Chinese and Tamil primary schools down the throat of the people. I hope that Dr. Mahathir would not one day say that the 3M issue has become a sensitive issue and public discussion in prohibited for it would mean that the 3M system had become so unacceptable that it had to be imposed by the most undemocratic means.