Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the dialogue between DAP and Indian cultural, educational and literary organizations on the revision to the Education Act 1961, held at Transport Workers Union Conference Hall on Wednesday, 26.8.1987 at 11 a.m.
DAP calls on the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to remove Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid as University Technologi Malaysia Vice Chansellor for challenging the 45:55 ratio for university intake or students
At the University Technologi Malaysia (UTM)’s 11th Convocation on Sunday, the UTM Vice Chancellor Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid, challenged the 45% ratio for non-bumiputra university student intake as an obstacle to the achievement of 30% Malay graduate objective, in particular in the technocratic field, by the year 1990.
He said that the ratio of 55% bumiputera university student intake and 45% non-bumiputra student intake would complicate the achievement of the government’s objective of producing more Malay engineers and architects.
He also said that “pemberian kuota 45 peratus itu juga bererti menchabuli ketetapan yang telah dibuat dan tidak bersesuaian dengan masa terutamanya di saat-saat kemelesetan ekonomi.”
He went on: “Kenapa yang 30 peratus belum tercapai tetapi 45 peratus pula diberi. Tidakkah kita berjanjang naik? Tidakkah kita bertangga turun?”
I am shocked that such a speech could be made by one of the Vice Chancellors of our universities at Convocation time, who is supposed to be the principal administrator of a university for all Malaysians, and not just one ethnic group. One would not be surprised if such a speech had been made by one of the power-hungry and unscrupulous UMNO Youth leaders, but surely not by one of our Vice Chancellors at a University Convocation!
Malaysia’s Universities have become seed-beds of racial polarization, and one of the primary tasks of the Vice Chancellors of our universities is to resolve this problem of racial polarization in the campuses.
However, some of our university Vice Chancellors, like Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid, seem to regard it as part of his responsibility to fan racial polarization with speeches like the one he made last Sunday.
Apart from the fact that in challenging the 45:55 ratio for university student intake for students, Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid is trespassing on policy area, Tan Sri Ainuddin has forfeited the right to continue as UTM Vice Chancellor as he would have lost the trust of the Chinese and Indian undergraduates, for he would have lost the trust of is more interested to be a Malay champion than a Malaysian leader who could get the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban undergraduates and academic staff together on common areas of concern.
I call on the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, to remove Tan Sri Ainuddin Wahid as Vice Chancellor of UTM, for he was swiftly become the source of greater racial polarization in the UTM and other local campuses. In fact, Tan Sri Ainuddin should have the integrity and honesty to resign as UTM Vice Chancellor to get into the political area if he wants to canvass and campaign for his political view about university student intake, instead of abusing the trust of his position as Vice Chancellor to create even greater division among the UTM undergraduates of various racial groups.
Extremist and chauvinist teachers are the cause of racial polarization in schools
Last September, Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said that problems such as racial polarization will no longer be an issue, once the Education Act 1961 is reviewed.
One of the causes of racial polarization in schools is the extremism and chauvinism of certain teachers in schools, who cast racial slurs and aspersions on students of other ethnic groups?
When the DAP parliamentary group met the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, on 14th August 1987 to discuss educational problems, we raised this matter with the Education Master, who agreed that Indian students suffered most from this problem of teachers casting racial slurs and aspersions on students of other racial groups. We gave instances of how Indian students were victimized in this fashion.
This problem would not be resolved with the revision of the 1961 Education Act. What is urgently needed is for all teachers, who are supposed to be ‘engineers of the Malaysian soul’, to be sent through an orientation course to teach them the basic responsibilities of a teacher in a Malaysian nation.
We must not permit extremists and chauvinists of any community to let loose in the schools, colleges and universities, to sour up racial relations for the years to come.
Religious freedom and forced conversion of students
Recently, UMNO leaders have expressed condemnation and concern at incidents where Muslim students had been converted to Christianity.
During the meeting between DAP MPs and the Education Minister, we told Anwar Ibrahim that non-Muslim parents are equally concerned about the problem of forced conversion of their children, below 18 years of age, to Islam without any parential knowledge or consent. In many cases, these students leave home leading to family break-ups.
The DAP Mps suggested that as Islam is taught in schools, Pupil’s Own Religion should also be introduced as a subject in the school’s curriculum.
If the government wants to ensure that schools are nurseries of national integration for the future generation of Malaysians, then it must ensure that the headmasters, teaching and school staff, respect the linguistic, cultural and religious rights and sensitivities of all students.
It is sad that such sensitivities are getting less and less with each passing year in the schools and educational institutions.
Two months ago, the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Woon See Chin, speaking at a MCA Seminar, enumerated some of the grievances in connection with religious or cultural rights and sensitivities, and this was his list:
1. Certain Christian schools being instructed to remove displays of the crucifix in classrooms;
2. Non-Muslim students being coerced to recite phrases or follow certain ceremony which are repugnant to their personal religious beliefs or practices;
3. Negligible allocations or even complete lack of allocations of public funds for the building of new or expansion of centres for worship for the other communities;
4. Absence of provisions for burial land allocated to the other communities in the structure plans of several towns;
5. Intimation of legislation of certain states to punish non-Muslim for offences punishable under Islamic law such as whipping for Khalwat and alcohol drinking;
6. Isolated incidents of ‘conversions’ on non-Muslim children (the famous Susie Teoh case) without knowledge or consent of the parents;
7. Being compelled to adorn certain attire which will make them appear o be distinctively assimilate with other race or religion whereby causing them to feel a sense of embarrassment;
8. Restrictions imposed on the performance of ‘lion dances’, the sale of pork items (raw, coked, or canned) in certain locations.
Five of these eight instances cited by the MCA Deputy Education Minister are happening in schools and educational institutions, but what has Woon See Chin, or the MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers and leaders done to resolve these grievances? Will these issues be resolved in the current revision of the 1961 Education Act?
DAP calls for Royal Commission of Inquiry into Education
Today’s meeting between the DAP and Indian cultural, educational and literary organizations on the government’s proposed revision of the 1961 Education Act is the second meeting the DAP is having with public organizations on the educational concerns of the people. The first was with the 15 Chinese National Organisations in Kuala Lumpur last Friday.
We feel that any amendments to the entire 1961 Education Act must fully involve every section of the nation, and this is why the DAP’s stand is that there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Education to be responsible for such a review.
For a year, the Education Ministry has been carrying out a highly secretive review of the 1961 Education Act, which has aroused fears about the future in particular of Chinese and Tamil primary schools and mother-tongue education in Malaysia.
The DAP calls for the review of the 1961 Education Act to be democratized, where the public could give their views and representations from the earliest stage of the review.