Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Monday, Nov.25. 1985 at 11.30 am
Challenge to the Tan Koon Swan – Ling Liong Sik new MCA leadership to declare their stand on the use of Dr. Mahathir’s ‘The Malay Dilemma’ to disseminate the ‘assimilation’ theory and idea in schools among students
I congratulate Tan Koon Swan and Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik on their being elected as the new President and Deputy President of MCA, and their faction’s clean sweep in the weekend’s MCA elections, whether for the MCA Central Committee, Youth or Wanita positions.
I do not think, however, that there is anything for the Malaysian Chinese community to be happy about, for Tan and Ling’s election as the new MCA leadership came about under circumstances which saw the self-respect and dignity of the Chinese community at an all-time low in Malaysian history – the butt of jokes by other races.
After his victory, Tan Koon Swan told TV Malaysia that he would be meeting Chinese community leaders to find out what are the problems facing the Chinese community. I am thoroughly stunned by this statement, for is Tan Koon Swan stating that he is not aware of multitude of political, economic, education, social, cultural and religious problems of the Chinese community?
In the past two or three weeks, while the Tan Koon Swan faction was spending tens of millions of dollars to win the MCA general elections, there were at least ten incidents which represented the further erosion of political, economic, education, cultural, religious rights of the Chinese community, but to which the Tan faction showed no concern or interest. In many of these instances, the Tan faction leaders were in fact part and parcel of the government decision-making and must bear even greater responsibility than the Neo faction.
I challenge the Tan Koon Swan-Ling Liong Sik new MCA leadership to declare its stand with regard to the use of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s book ‘The Malay Dilemma’ to disseminate the ‘assimilation’ theory and ideas among students in schools. The best example is the use of extract from ‘The Malay Dilemma’ on the theory of assimilation as the basis of a question in the recent STPM General Paper, to test the students’ reaction and acceptance of the assimilation concept of nation building.
As Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling should in fact bear full responsibility to the Chinese community for such a ‘politicised’ and divisive question in the STPM paper.
Let Tan Koon Swan and Ling Liong Sik declare whether as the first act of their new MCA leadership, they would protest against the extract of ‘The Malay Dilemma’ in the STPM General Paper, demand that the STPM General paper should be re-sat and the previous General Paper null and void, call for disciplinary action to be taken all those examiners having a part in the setting of such a question in trying to introduce politics to the schools, and finally, get Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to assure Malaysians that his assimilation theory and ideas in ‘The Malay Dilemma’ is not part of the Barisan Nasional Government’s nation-building policy.
Furthermore, is the Tan-Lim MCA leadership prepared to demonstrate a new style of courageous politics by getting all MCA ministers and MPs to support my motion in Parliament tomorrow to protest against the STPM General Paper.
As Deputy Education Minister, the new MCA Deputy President, Datuk Dr. Ling, must assume responsibility for the following three other incidents which happened under his Ministry recently:
1. The use of Bahasa Malaysia as a teaching medium for Chinese primary schools teachers in Malacca undergoing a teaching seminar on the launching of the second stage of 3M for Std. 4 next year, which violate the pledge given in 1982 that the 3M system would not undermine the character of Chinese primary schools;
2. The dissemination of ideas of ‘assimilation’ by 3M lecturers at such 3M teaching seminar in Malacca, where one lecturer, Sukari Dasuki, told Chinese primary school teachers that Chinese primary school pupils should not be allowed to draw ‘dragon’ that Chinese culture cannot be accepted as part of Malaysian culture, and that those who do not accept this view ‘could go back to China’.
3. The increasing number of incidents where non-Malay students in schools are being forced by the influence of religious teachers to convert to Islam against parental wishes and even knowledge, and the removal of the students, even while minor below the age of 18, from the parental home causing family break-ups and undermining the whole basis of the Chinese family unit system.
What is Tan Koon Swan and in particular Ling Liong Sik, going to do about these grave developments?
I know Datuk Dr Ling Liong Sik must already be thinking about his promotion to full Cabinet position, but he should make it clear that unless and until he could resolve the above-mentioned educational problems, he would not leave his present position as Deputy Education Minister – as a matter of principle and conviction! That he would not be a coward and run away from his responsibilities.
It is not necessary for me to narrate the list of recent erosion of the basic rights of the Chinese community, like the new Ministry of Trade and Industry guideline about 51% of all new public shares issue being reserved to bumiputras (under the new Tan faction CEC Member, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Ooi Gin Sun), the division of ‘bumiputra properties’ and ‘non-bumiputra properties’ for purposes of assessment in the Batu Pahat West District Council (where the new MCA Vice President, Tan Peng Khoon is Assemblyment), or the refusal of the MCA to help the over 300 people in 31 households at Jalan Rambutan, Kluang, who were given notice of eviction today although they had stayed there for 50-60 years without alternative land offer (although the Assemblyman in the area is the new MCA Youth Deputy, Kang Chow Oh).\
If the Tan Koon Swan MCA leadership is not prepared, or dare not, to take a stand on each of these grave developments, then it must bear full responsibility for the relentless erosion of the political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights of the Chinese community.
DAP calls for free travel for Malaysians to China
On the eve of the Prime Minister’s visit to China on Nov. 20, I had called for a new approach by the Malaysian government in its China policy, and should not allow the CPM question to stand in the way of full normalization of relations between Malaysia and China. Just as the Soviet Union’s KGB spies and operatives in Malaysia had not obstructed the establishment of full relations between the Soviet Union and Malaysia, similarly the CPM problem should not be an obstacle for full relations between the governments and people of both countries.
I note that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has not raised the matter of CPM in his discussion with Chinese leaders, although before his departure, this was reported to be one of the Prime Minister’s subjects to be brought up during his visit. Dr. Mahathir said he had decided to concentrate on trade relations.
This is a welcome development in Malaysia-China relationship, and I call for its continued development on realistic and practical terms. For a start, the Malaysian Government should agree to the full travel of Malaysians to China; and secondly, to take special measures to resolve once and for all, the citizenship question of the 300,000 stateless red indentiy card holders who were promised 11 years ago after Tun Razak’s visit to China that their status would be regularised.