by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Thursday, 28.11.1985:
Syed Barakbar should not think Malaysians are ‘children’ to accept his poor attempt to justify the STPM General Paper question based on an extract from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir’s ‘The Malay Dilemma’
The Malaysian Examination Council (MEC) Secretary-General, Syed Abu Bakar Barakhbar, should not think Malaysians are ‘children’ who would accept his poor attempt to justify the STPM General Paper question based on an extract from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s ‘The Malay Dilemma’.
Syed Barakbar said yesterday (NST+Star : 28.11.85) that the STPM General Paper was set with adult students in mind, to test their maturity of thought and ability to argue and think critically, that the use of controversial issues as examination material was not wrong, and that the STPM candidates were not children.
I am still waiting for Syed Barakhbar’s answer whether the STPM General Paper next year would use extracts from my book ‘Time Bombs in Malaysia’ or ‘Malaysia in the Dangerous Eighties’ to test the ‘maturity of thought, ability to argue and think critically’ of STPM students.
I am not opposed to the use of controversial material to test the critical prowess of STPM candidates, but it is a completely different matter when very sensitive, highly-divisive and emotionally-charged questions about the ‘assimilation’ ideas of Malaysian nation building are used. Syed Barakhbar should not forget that when ‘The Malay Dilemma’ was first published in 1970, the Government found it so ‘sensitive’ and prejudicial to national unity that the book was banned for over 10 years!
By setting a STPM General Paper question based on ‘The Malay Dilemma’, the MEC and the Education Ministry is virtually telling the STPM students that the Prime Minister’s book is a ‘must’ reading for them, whether arts or science students, for the General Paper.
This would also be a signal to General Paper teachers to use the book, ‘The Malay Dilemma’, openly and extensively in STPM classes to spread the assimilation concepts and ideas contained in the book.
I would like to know whether the Ministry of Education and the MEC would allow the use of my books, ‘Time Bombs in Malaysia’ or ‘Malaysia in the Dangerous Eighties’ in STPM classes, either by teachers or students, to test their ‘critical thinking’?
I would like to ask Syed Barabhbar what would have been the repercussion if this year’s STPM General Paper had used an extract from ‘Time Bombs in Malaysia’ and not ‘The Malay Dilemma’? Would his explanation that the MEC was testing the ‘maturity of thought and ability to argue and think critically’ of adults and not children, be accepted by the UMNO MPs or the Government? Syed Barakhbar would agree that he would have been sacked on the spot! and the entire MEC overhauled!
Syed Barakhbar should not therefore except Malaysians to accept his poor attempt to defend the MEC’s breach of trust to act fairly and honourably in conducting the nation’s examinations.
If Syed Barakhbar thinks it is part of his duty to help disseminate Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir’s assimilation ideas as contained in ‘The Malay Dilemma’, then he should resign as MEC Secretary-General and enter the political arena. So long as he is a civil servant, he must not allow political objectives of the ruling parties to cloud or interfere with his public duties.
Although Koon Swan is not in Cabinet, he must bear full responsibility for Barisan Nasional policies
When Tan Koon Swan’s faction won a clean sweep of the MCA elections, many supporters of the Tan MCA faction also expected a rally and rise in the share market. But the two days’ fall of the Kuala Lumpur Stick Exchange prices showed that the MCA’s power struggle had long been discounted as a positive indicator in the 22-month power struggle-regardless of who wins.
I do not expect Tan Koon Swan to immediately ask to join the Cabinet, especially as general elections is not far away. There are many reasons, which include:
There is now an intense and even bitter jockeying for the MCA Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial posts by the Tan faction supporters as reward for their 22-month power struggle and loyalty. Those in the front-line demanding Ministerial posts are Ling Liong Sik, Lee Kim Sai and Chan Siang Sun. But there may not be enough Ministerial posts to go around for the three, going by the remark by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir, that ‘winners should not win everything, and losers should not lose everything’. This is the ‘monks many, porridge little’ scenario.
By not joining the Cabinet until after the next general elections, Tan Koon Swan hopes to be able to distance away from the Barisan Nasional’s policies, giving the people the impression that he is not directly responsible.
Tan Koon Swan is personally bogged down with hisown personal business problems, in particular the suspension of three of his companies in Singapore stock exchange just before the MCA general elections, most notably the S$360 million debt problem of Pan-El.
However, Tan Koon Swan should realise that as MCA President, whether he is immediately in the Cabinet or not, he and he new MCA leadership must bear full responsibility for the Barisan Nasional policies, in particular the unprecented erosion of the political, economic, educational, religious and cultural rights of the Malaysian Chinese in recent weeks and months.