Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Bahau DAP Branch Anniversary Dinner held in h Bahau, Negri Sembilan on Saturday, 1st Sept. 1984 at 8 p.m.
DAP calls on Australian Government to reconsider and cancel the latest round of university education fees for Malaysian students for 1985
Ever since the introduction in 1980 of visa surcharge for overseas students studying in Australia, which is in effect for university education fees, by the Australian Government, every year without break, the university education fees for Malaysia students studying in Australia had been raised.
Last week, the Australian government has announced another increase of university education fees for overseas students for 1985.
More than 57 per cent of the overseas students on Australian university campuses are from Malaysia, and this means that the sixth annual increase of university education fees for overseas students in Australia would hit Malaysians the hardest.
The DAP calls on the Australian Government to reconsider and cancel the 1985 increase of university education fees, as it should bear in mind that the majority of the Malaysia private Malaysian students studying there come from poor income groups, whose parents have to save and scrimp to find the funds to support their children there.
When the Coldring Committee, established by Australian Prime Minister Hawke to look into the question of overseas students in Australia, came to Malaysia, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, Sdr. Tan Seng Giaw and I met the Committee members and stressed that the view that private Malaysian students in Australia all come from rich and well-off circumstances is a complete misconception.
Austrlia should regard the opportunities and facilities it is providing for Malaysian students in Australia for higher education studies as a form of assistance and co-operation with the ASEAN countries, which are comparatively more backward than Australia. In any event, there is a great imbalance in the trade between Malaysia and Australia.
The problem faced by Malaysians in Australia with the annual increase in university education fees highlight the educational crisis of Malaysians. The main problem stems from the inadequacy of higher education places for our own children in Malaysia.
Recently, there has been considerable concern over the loss of foreign exchange because of Balance of Payments deficit. For education abroad alone, Malaysians spent over $1 billion a year for the some 60000 students overseas.
The DAP calls on the new Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, to deal with this problem bravely in the 1985 Budget to be presented to Parliament on Oct. 19, by announcing a new government policy of establishing more universities and allowing the establishment of private universities to cut down on foreign exchange lost because of the overseas education bill, and tto provide cheaper and more appropriate higher education courses locally.
The Government is promoting ‘privatisation’, and the first areas where priorities should be given to ‘privatisation’ is in education, particular in university education.