DAP will organize a Public Convention on Chinese Education in Penang in mid-November as part of the 1990s Movement

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, a a DAP Ceramah in Bukit Mertajam to launch the 1990s Movement on Saturday, 5.9.1987 at 9 p.m.

DAP will organize a Public Convention on Chinese Education in Penang in mid-November as part of the 1990s Movement

As part of the DAP’s 1990s Movement, launched in Penang yesterday, in order to mobilize the political energies and power of the people to shape Malaysia in the 1990s, the DAP will organize a Public Convention on Chinese Education in Penang in mid-November.

The DAP Public Convention on Chinese Education in Penang will be the first of a series of DAP Public Convention on Chinese Education which will be held in each State for the next six months, on a fortnightly basis.

In the past few months, the Chinese community has been very concerned as to the real intentions of the Barisan Nasional Government in its proposed revision of the 1961 Education Act, especially as the entire process is conducted ith such secrecy that even MCA and Gerakan Ministers, Deputy Ministers and leaders have been kept in the ‘dark’ as to what had been going on in the last one-year of ‘secret’ revision of the Act.

The whole question is whether the Barisan Nasional Government is going to a guide by its declared policy of ‘One Language, One Culture’ in the revision of the 1961 Education Act, for if the answer is in the positive, then the Barisan Nasional Government will lay the basis for the eventual phasing out of Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

It is because of the Barisan Nasional’s ‘One Language, One Culture’ Policy that there were so many divisive incidents recently, including the issue of University of Malaya elective course, the Johore Seafood Festival Chinese signboard, the UTM directive on headgear for non-Muslim undergraduates, the UKM cancellation of the Martial Act, lion and dragon dance programme in the campus, etc.

The Penang Education Department’s directive transferring those not versed in Chinese language to become Assistant headmasters and Senior Assistants in the 90-odd primary schools in Penang have rightly caused consternation, opposition and protest by the Chinese community, who fear that this is not an isolated incident, but part of a larger scheme of things to change the character of Chinese primary schools.

During the DAP’s meeting with the 15 National Chinese Organisations in Kuala Lumpur recently, the DAP suggested the convening of a National Congress on Chinese Education in Malaysia which should draw up a 20 year blue-print for Chinese Education. We feel that once such a blue-print is drawn up and received the endorsement of the entire Chinese community, with or without the support of all political parties, it would serve as the basis for a long-term struggle for the rightful place for Chinese education in Malaysia. The Chinese community will then have a sense of direction and objective in a long-term political struggle with regard to the place of Chinese education in the country, instead of as at present, reacting to issues on an ad hee basis, or as the Chinese saying goes, ‘When the head aches, to heal the head; when the feet aches, to heal the feet.’

The 15 National Chinese Organisations have promised to give the proposal serious consideration, as we had suggested that they are the most suitable persons to convene such a Congress, and I hope that they are actively considering and pursuing the idea.