Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang at the DAP Teluk Intan Ceramah held at San Min Chinese School Hall on Saturday, May 24, 1986 at 9 pm.
DAP calls on Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim to adopt a ‘No single Chinese primary school closure or conversion’ policy and repeal Section 21(2) of 1961 Education Act.
The DAP is very disappointed by the failure of the MCA leadership, headed by Tan Koon Swan, to get the Barisan National government to agree to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
The reasons given by Tan Koon Swan in Kota Bahru why the Section 21(2) Education Act cannot be repealed is unacceptable. Tan Koon Swan said there may be Chinese primary schools which have shortage of students and may have to be converted to national primary schools, and that if Section 21(2) is repealed, such conversion cannot take place.
The DAP calls on the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to adopt a policy of ‘No single Chinese primary school Closure or Conversion’, which will make the reason given by Tan Koon Swan redundant. The next step is for the repeal of Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
It must be the collective responsibility of both the Government and Chinese community to see to it that there will not be a single closure or conversion of / Chinese primary schools. In fact, more/ existing Chinese primary schools should be built throughout the country.
If there are schools which face problem of shortage of students, then this must be overcome by persuading parents t send their children to enroll in the Chinese primary schools affected, or the school should be relocated in another area where this students shortage problem could be overcome.
For such a ‘No Single Chinese Primary School Closure and Conversion’ Policy to be meaningful and effective, it must mean a total review and change of government attitude and treatment of Chinese primary schools, whether in terms of financial and development fund allocation, teacher-training programme, standard of academic attainments of Chinese primary schools in all subjects, etc.
I challenged Tan Koon Swan and MCA to adopt this policy of ‘No Single Chinese Primary School Closure and Conversion’ to promote mother-tongue education in the spirit of Article 152 of the Constitution. With such a policy, Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act should be repealed.
If the MCA is not prepared to endorse such a policy of ‘No Single Chinese Primary School Closure and Conversion’, then the MCA leaders are again mere ‘passenters’ on the Barisan National ship with no mind or will of its own to represent the aspirations and rights of the Chinese community.