Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the official opening of the Federal Territory DAP State Convention hold at Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 19th June 1983 at 10.a.m.
DAP calls on Elections Commission and Barisan Nasional component parties to honour the ‘restructuring’ principle in the redelineation of electoral constituencies to ensure that political power is evenly spread among the people and not identified with any one race.
A few days ago, the local press reported that the Elections Commission had complete its work to redelineate the parliamentary and state assembly constituencies, and that the Elections Commission is expected to present its proposals on the new redelineation of electoral constituencies in the coming meeting of Parliament from July 25 to August 5.
The press also reported that under the new recommendations, there would be 20 now Parliamentary seats and 35 new State Assembly seats, making a total of 175 Parliamentary seats and 312 State Assembly seats.
We still do not know whether these reports are true, as there has been no official confirmation from the Election Commission. However, under Article 113 of the Malaysian Constitution, the Election Commission must complete the process of redelineation of constituencies, including public exhibition of new electoral boundaries for public representations, approval by Cabinet and Parliament, in the next 12 months.
The 1983/84 redelineation of electoral constituencies is a very important development, for it affects the location and distribution of political power in Malaysia, for under our system of Parliamentary democracy, political power is decided by the way the constituencies are delineated, and the electorate distribution in the constituencies.
The 1970s and 1980s were the two decades where the Barisan Nasional Government proclaimed as the eras for the restructuring of Malaysian society to produce a more balanced nation by the elimination of any identification of race with any economic function. If the Barisan Nasional Government is sincere in wanting to eliminate a compartmentalised Malaysia, with the races separated into various compartments, then it must carry out a wholesale restructuring in all arenas of Malaysian life.
In the same way that all aspects of the economic function in the country must be restructured and Malaysianised, all aspects of the political function must also be restructured and Malaysianised.
In this respect, I call on the Elections Commission and the Barisan Nasional component parties to honour the ‘restructuring’ principle in the redelineation of electoral constituencies to ensure that political power is evenly spread among the Malaysian people and not identified with any one race.
If it is true that the Election Commission had completed its recommendations about the new redelineation of electoral constituencies, but had failed to take into consideration the ‘restructuring’ principle that political power must not be identified with any one race, then I call on the Elections Commission to start all over again to make a fresh set of recommendations which would be guided by the ‘restructuring’ principle.
I find it noteworthy that the MCA Leadership is already preparing the ground to shirk its responsibility to ensure that the new delineation of electoral con tituencies must be a redacal from previous constituency constituency changes, i.e. guided by the principle of ‘restruncturing’.
Thus, shortly after the local press reports about the proposed increases in Parliamentary and State Assembly seats by the Elections Commission, a MCA Central Committee member issued a press statement which, while admitting that the present electoral delineation is most unfair in that predominantly Malay rural constituencies elect four MPs while a predominantly Chinese urban constituency elect only one MP although with as many voters as the four rural constituencies, yet disclaimed MCA responsibility for this most unfair state of affairs.
This statement by the MCA Central Committee member seeks to put the responsibility on Chinese associations and Chinese society, when it is the MCA which must bear full responsibility for such imbalance of political power in Malaysia.
This is because every set of constituency changes must have received Cabinet support, including MCA Ministerial support, before adoption by Parliament. The former MCA Minister, Michael Chen had said that if there was any one single Cabinet Minister who disagreed and opposed any proposal or policy, the Cabinet would not adopt the proposal or policy.
In other words, if in 1974, the last revision of the electoral boundaries which gave the rural voters the right to have four times more MPs than urban voters, making a complete mockery of the principle of one-man one-vote, there had been a single MCA Minister who had dared to oppose it in Cabinet, such gross imbalance of political power would not have been adopted.
Again, in the new 1983/84 revision of electoral constituencies, it is up to the MCA Ministers under the MCA leader, Datuk Neo Yee Pan, to ensure that there is a fair ‘restructuring’ of the electoral constituencies to ensure that urban vote is equally weighted with rural vote, that the unfair political under- representation of the Malaysian Chinese in Malaysia constituencies are rectified.
In this connection, I call on the new MCA leadership under Datuk Neo Yee Pan to declare whether it is committed to the principle that the new revision of electoral constituencies must rectify the political imbalances of the constituency- delineations, and the restructuring of the constituencies to ensure that political power is not identified with any one race.
I hope that the ‘political breakthrough’ of the MCA in the April 1982 general elections, and the disastrous defeat of the DAP last year, would not result in even greater losses of political power for the Malaysia Chinese from the 1983/84 electoral constituency revisions.
2. The universities should be restructured to reflect the multi- racial population
Last week, at the Selangor DAP State Convention opening held in Klang, I spoke of the need for the Barisan Nasional Government to convince the people by deeds and results that the New Economic Policy is meant to benefit all races, and not just any one particular one. race. I had given the example of the gross imbalance in the FELDA settlement schemes, where there was not only no attempt to rectify and restructure the settlement schemes to reflect the multi- racial population, the meager 3% of Chinese participation in Felda Schemes before 1970 progressively fell to 2.7% in 1970, 2.1% in 1975 and 1.8% in 1980.
Another area where the NEP restructuring had wrought injustice and inequity is in the area of university education.
The DAP fully supports governmental efforts to help the Malay catch up in traditional areas of neglect, as in higher education. However, this should not be carried out in manner where the resolution of old injustices results in the creation of new injustices.
There is no doubt that the Barisan Nasional’s higher education policy has led to the denial of tens of thousands of young Malaysians of higher education opportunities in their own country.
Last Thursday, the Education Ministry announced that the Unit Pusat Universiti- Universiti, the central controlling body for university admissions, has selected 8,978 students for the five local university for the new academic year, comprising 2,330 to Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (UPM); 2,149 to Universiti Malaya; 1,992 to Universiti Kebangsaan (UKM); 1,380 to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and 1,127 to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UKM).
The successful candidates for admission into the five local universities are however only one- third of the students who sat for the STPM last year and who got results qualifying them for university entry. Thus, out of the 54,933 candidates who sat for the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) last year, 2,298 got five passes each, 4,401 got four passes, 8,042 had there passes, and 11,758 had two passes each, making a total of 26,449.
This means that 17,521 students who got their STPM results early this year have been rejected out of university portals, although they hold university entrance eligibility results. In fact, I have been informed that students with four Principals in STPM have also been rejected places in the five local universities.
DAP calls on the immediate establishment of three more universities
Unless these 17,500 STPM students can find places in foreign universities, and the means to support their education abroad, they would lose their chance of higher education opportunities.
It is estimated that Malaysia spends $1,000 million a year to meet the costs of the 49,300 Malaysian students overseas. The DAP calls on the Barisan Nasional government to urgently decide on the establishment of three more universities, one of which must be in Sarawak, to meet the higher education needs of Malaysian students, as well as to save a big portion of foreign exchange from leaving the country to pay for educating Malaysians abroad.
In keeping with the New Economic Policy objective of restructuring Malaysian society and institutions to reflect the country’s multi- racial population, there is a need for the Government to restructure all the five local universities. The latest university enrolment figures show that Universiti Pertanian Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia are not reflective of Malaysia’s multi- racial population, and should be rectified.
The 1981/1982 university enrolment figures (which I the figures I have) show the racial composition of the five local universities as follows:
Bumiputera Chinese Indians Others Total
Universiti Malaya 3,887 2,795 564 114 7,360
(52.8%) (37.9%) (7.7%) (1.6%)
Universiti Sains 5,257 1,534 319 23 4,133
Malaysia (54.6%) (37.1%) (7.7%) (0.6%)
Universiti Pertanian 1,637 326 89 3 2,055
Malaysia (79.7%) (15.9%) (4.3%) (0.1%)
Universiti Kebangsaan 5,115 830 210 24 6,179
Malaysia (82.8%) (13.4%) (3.4%) (0.4%)
Univeristi Teknologi 865 137 39 11 1,052
Malaysia (82.2%) (13.0%) (3.7%) (1.1%)
GRAND TOTAL 13,761 5,622 1,221 175 20,779
(66.2%) (27.0%) (5.9%) (0.9%)
The total university enrolment percentages of 66.2% bumiputra students, 27% Chinese, 5.9% Indians and 0.9% Other deviate from the national racial break- down, and the Education Ministry must take steps to rectify this imbalance.
Dr. Tan Tiong Hong has insulted the Negeri Sembilan P.O.L teachers when he accused them of putting money above POL classes.
The Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong has insulated the Negeri Sembilan P.O.L (Pupil’s Own Language) teachers/ when he accused them of putting money above mother- tongue interests, for protesting against the most unreasonable slash in the POL teaching allowances by 75% to $5 from $20.
For. Dr. Tan to condemn the POL teachers who had resigned from POL classes in protest against the indifference of the Education Ministry and Dr. Tan to the unreasonable slash in POL allowance is to add insult to injury, for the POL teachers throughout the country had been exploited for too long.
That Dr. Tan, coming from a party which claims to represent the interest of five million Malaysian Chinese after the April 1982 general elections breakthrough, could allow POL allowances to be slashed by 75%, knowing that this is highly detrimental to the promotion of mother- tongue learning by the students, is indeed most shocking. It would not be far wrong to accuse Dr. Tan Tiong Hong of putting the interests of this political future above the future of mother- tongue learning in the country.
The POL classes, although provided by law where there are fifteen pupils who want to learn their mother- tongue, had never been implemented with seriousness by the Education Ministry, or by the MCA Education Ministers concerned.
Instead of making baseless attacks on the long- suffering POL teachers, Dr. Tan should apologise to the Negeri Sembilan POL teachers for his uncalled- for and unjustified insult, and concentrate his energies to impress on the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and the Educational Minister, Dr. Sulaiman Daud, on the sensitivity of the Malaysians Chinese to mother- tongue learning. Government expenditures in other directions could be slashed in view of the current economic recession, but there should not be a single cent of reduction for POL classes, if the Barisan Government fully respects the constitutional importance of mother- tongue learning.