by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on 5.6.1986:
Challenge to Anwar Ibrahim to explain how repeal of Section 21(2) of 1961 Education Act would violate the National Education Policy
UMNO Youth Leader and Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has only himself to blame for being the centre of nation-wide criticism and attacks by the Chinese community for the second time. The first time was when he warned the non-Malays not to question the government’s national policies or he would raise the citizenship issue of the non-Malays. The second was his comments on Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
Anwar must think the Malaysian Chinese as being very naive if he assumed that he could argue that the views of the UMNO Youth Education bureau was made without sanction from him or UMNO Youth.
In his press conference statement yesterday, where he said that he would be introducing an amendment to the Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act, he reiterated that any amendment could not contradict the Nasional Education Policy.
I challenge Anwar Ibrahim to explain clearly how the repeal of Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act would violate the National Education Policy. As the government has claimed that it is not its intention to convert Chinese primary schools into national primary schools, surely the repeal of Section 21(2) would be in conformity with this education policy.
It is indeed a reflection of the utter uselessness of the MCA and Gerakan that they could not even get the UMNO to agree to the repeal of half a section in the 1961 Education Act.
Anwar talks about political pressure from Malay circles against any amendment to Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act. If these pressures are unreasonable and even anti-national in disregarding the multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural basis of Malaysia, then the time has come for these forces to be ignored!
It was MCA which 25 years ago was responsible for enacting Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act, and it is now their duty and responsibility to get this section repealed. Any amendment, keeping open the possibility of the conversion of any Chinese primary school into a national primary school, is acceptable and cannot be consented to by the Chinese community.
The preparedness of the Barisan Nasional Government to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act is a test as to whether the Barisan and its component parties are prepared to undo the 25-year injustice in placing the Chinese and Tamil primary schools on the ‘guillotine’. The loosening of the strings of the guillotine, which is what would happen if the Section 21(2) is merely amended, is not tolerable. What the Chinese community want is to see the ‘guillotine’ smashed and destroyed, by the repeal of Section 21(2) altogether.