Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Temiang Branch dinner in Seremban on Sunday, 20.3.1983 at 8 pm.
Advice to Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to stop playing a destructive role in Parliament in blocking or sabotaging the DAP’s Parliamentary efforts in the cause of Chinese education.
Last Tuesday, the nine DAP MPs jointly condemned the Gerakan MP for Tanjong, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, for his leading role in Parliament’s first day of sitting on 14th March 1983 in killing the DAP motion on Chinese education and Chinese primary schools to ensure that Chinese primary schools would never fear conversion by repealing Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, who was elected on the platform of Chinese education as one more of the Tung / Chiau Chung candidates, led the other Barisan MPs to kill the DAP motion, to be moved by DAP MP for Sibu, Sdr. Ling Sie Ming, by dragging out debate time on the Audit (Amendment) Bill so that there was no opportunity for the Chinese education motion to be debated.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon has succeeded in his objective, for although Sdr. Ling Sie Ming’s Chinese education motion Skill appears on the Dewan Rakyat Order paper every day, there is no hope of its being debated.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon has denied that he had been the ‘chief executioner’ in killing the Chinese education motion in Parliament, and that he spoke for 42 minutes on the Audit (Amendment) Bill because of the importance of the Bill.
Nobody can fault Dr. Koh if he spoke for 42 minutes because he felt that the Audit (Amendment) Bill was important, but he would have done Chinese education a great disservice if he had spoken for 42 minutes on the Audit (Amendment) Bill just to kill the Chinese education motion from being debated.
Dr. Koh’s denial, however, is so weak and he himself could not believe in it. Everybody in Parliament on its first day knew that the Barisan MPs wanted to drag out the debate on the Audit (Amendment) Bill, which under normal circumstances would have been disposed of after a short debate, with one and only objective: to kill the Chinese education motion of the DAP.
This was why Parliament that day had the unusual spectacle of a ‘relay’ system of speaking by the Barisan MPs. Normally, when a government bill attracts great interest and many MPs want to debate, the MPs who wish to speak would all stand up to compete for the Speaker’s eye. But not in the case of the debate on the Audit (Amendment) Bill. Here, it was the case of one Barisan MP standing up one at a time, as a ‘relay’, to keep the debate going in part of an organized plan to kill the Chinese education motion. Sometimes, for poor co-ordination, nobody stood up, the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong, would frantically signal to Barisan MPs to keep the ‘relay’ and effort to kill the DAP motion going.
This was why Dr. Koh Tsu Koon was congratulated as virtually a hero after his speech of 42 minutes, not because of what he said in those 42 minutes, but for his great ability to drag out 42 minutes making the biggest contribution to kill the Chinese education motion. Dr. Koh Tsu Koon can deny until his last breath, but in his heart of hearts, he knew that what he did in Parliament on March 14 was against the cause of Chinese education.
Dr. Koh did so for his own personal political reasons, for he did not want the Chinese education motion to be debated. It is now clear that Dr. Koh would have voted against the Chinese education motion to repeal Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to remove the power of the Education Minister to convert Chinese primary schools into national primary schools. The people of Tanjong and the country have a right to ask Dr. Koh why he was prepared to speak for 42 minutes to kill the Chinese education motion on Chinese primary schools, instead of speaking for 42 minutes in the defence, protection and advancement of the cause of Chinese education. Finally, I would advise Dr. Koh to stop playing his destructive role in blocking or sabotaging the DAP’s efforts in Parliament for the cause of Chinese education, or the DAP would continue to expose him mercilessly for the judgement of people and history.