Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Seberang Perai DAP Solidarity Dinner held at Butterworth on Saturday, 7.9.1985 at 8 pm
Dr. Ling Liong Sik should explain whether Education Ministry had secured Tung Chiau Chong’s agreement to implement the new integrated primary school programme.
There are people like Dr.Lim Keng Yaik of Gerakan who believe that the next MCA President will not be Tan Koon Swan but will be Dr.Ling Liong Sik.
I cannot read the MCA’s political horoscope or Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s mind, so I will not hardzard any prediction who will emerge as the MCA President in the ‘Three Kingdom’ conflict of the Neo, Tan and Mak fictions in the MCA.
But if Dr. Ling is a MCA Presidential aspirant to be the new ‘saviour’ of the Malaysian Chinese, he should not let the Ma1ysian Chinese community down in his present portforlio as Deputy Education Minister.
What has Dr. Ling done to rectify the decades of ne1ect and step—son treatment accorded to the Chinese primary schools, whether in terms of allocation of funds for rebuilding, maintenance or development of Chinese primary schools and their facilities; or the question of teacher—training to ensure that there would be an ample reservoir of qualified teachers for Chinese primary schools in the 2lst century which is only 15 years away; the conducting of Pupil’s Own Language (POL) classes in every national school; and the giving of iron—clad guarantees that Chinese primary schools would not be converted into national primary schools or change character by repealing Clause 21(2) of the Education Act 1961?
The answer to all these questions is one Big No after another!
Recently, Dr. Ling announced that the government would embark on a nation—wide integrated schools programme aimed at promoting racial integration in primary schools from January 1.
Dr. Ling said a pilot project will be launched in every State and primary pupils of all races will be given the opportunity to interact and better understand one another by getting pupils from national as well as vernacular schools to join one another for co—curricular activities.
All Malaysians will support the idea that students of different races and from different media streams should mix and interact to expose them to Ma1aysia’s multi—racial, multi—lingual, multi—cultural and multi—religious character. But Dr.Ling should also be aware as the Deputy Education Minister that as a result of decades of experience, the Chinese community as a whole and the Chinese educational bodies in particular are very wary about governmental and administrative measures which could indirectly and insidiously start the process of altering the character of the Chinese primary schools.
Before the Ministry of Education starts any pilot project it should fully consult the various interested organisations so that whatever doubts, fears and anxieties could be overcome, and that under no circumstances should the government force its views or proposals on the mother—tongue schools if there is widespread apprehension that it could lead eventually to the change of character of the schools.
In this connection, I call on Dr. Ling as Deputy Education Minister to explain whether the Education Ministry had secured Tung Chiau Chung’s agreement to implement the new integrated primary school programme, and if not, why not.
Furtheremore, whether the Education Ministry had sought the agreement of the Tung Chiau Chung elements who joined the Gerakan in the April 1982 general elections before implementing the new integrated primary school project.
If there is not need for the government to get the agreement of the Gerakan-Tung Chiau Chung elements before it implements the integrated primary school programme, then what is the rationale and reason for Tung Chiau Chung’s entry into Gerakan and Barisan Nasional? If Tung Chiau Chong’s position today is no different from pre-1982 general elections, then the slogan of ‘Attack into the BN to rectify the BN’ is just a hollow one.
I call on the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Ling Liong Sik, to convince the Education Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi, to convene a meeting of all Chinese educational organizations, including Tung Chiau Chung, to get their agreement to the new integrated primary school programme before implementing it.
There must be the fullest and most iron-clad assurance that there is no possibility whatsoever that the new integrated primary school programme would be the prelude to the change of character of Chinese primary schools.