By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Saturday, May 24, 1986:
Tan Koon Swan’s admission the Chinese community and prove that MCA Ministers and leaders are still ‘passengers’.
Tan Koon Swan’s Kota Bahru speech that section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act would be amended, but not repealed, is a great disappointment to the Chinese community.
The MCA Ministers and leaders have been telling the Malaysian Chinese that the new MCA leadership is completely different from previous MCA leaderships, that they dare to speak up against injustice and wrongs, and that they are not going to be ‘passengers’, but co-navigators if not the captain of the Barisan National ship.
But Tan Koon Swan’s admission that the MCA cannot get Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act repealed shows that the MCA Ministers and Leaders are still ‘passengers’ in the Barisan National.
Tan Koon Swan wanted to impress the Malaysian Chinese community of the MCA’s new courage when he said that the MCA will leave the Barisan National if the government does not fulfill its promise to amend Section 21(2) of the Education Act 1961, which gives the Education Minister the power to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools into national primary schools as he deems fit.
Why is it Tan Koon Swan dare not declare that the MCA would leave the Barisan National if the government does not repeal Section 21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act?
The reason advanced by Tan Koon Swan why Section 21(2) of the Education Act cannot be repealed is completely unsatisfactory and unacceptable. Tan Koon Swan said that the section is still necessary to deal with certain situations, such as where a national- type school faces a shortage of students. Tan Koon Swan’s implied meaning is that in such circumstances, the Chinese primary school should be converted into national primary school, and that the MCA leadership will give full support to such conversion.
The DAP cannot agree. There should not arise any circumstances which justify the closure of a single Chinese primary schools, like shortage of students, should not be tackled as a common responsibility of the Chinese community as well as the government, and either a scheme is worked out where the student-shortage problem could he overcome, or the school concerned could be relocated to another promote mother-tongue education in Malaysia.
DAP supports police activities to clean up ‘secret society’ activities in schools.
The DAP fully supports police actions to clean up ‘secret society’ activities in schools, whereby students are terrorized by the ‘gangs’ to pay protection money regularly. There have been reports of such ‘secret society’ activities not only in Malacca but elsewhere in the country.
Parents should take a close interest of their children’s school activities, so that when the students face any problem, like threats by school ‘secret societies’, they would confide to their parents before things worsened. Parents should then take up these problems either with the school authorities, the police or the elected representatives.