Speech by parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Malacca DAP Ceramah to protest against the Education Ministry decision to promote teachers unversed in Mandarin to senior positions in Chinese primary schools, held at Meng Send Charitable Association Hall, Malacca on Thursday, 1.10.1987 at 9pm
DAP condemns MCA and Gerakan Ministers for failing Chinese language, education and the Chinese community in not bringing up the issue in Cabinet although it had met five times since its beginning.
The promotion of teachers unversed in Mandarin to senior positions in Chinese primary schools in Malacca, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and other states since the beginning of September must be taken as the most serious threat to the character and survival of Chinese primary schools since the 3M incident in 1981.
In the last 26 years since the enactment of the 1961 Education Act, especially Section 21(2) which empowers the Education Minister to convert Chinese primary schools into national primary schools with the stroke of the pen, Chinese primary schools had to fight a relentless battle of survival.
In the last 26 years, various attempts had been made to carry out the Talib Education Report objective of eventually having only one language medium of instruction for all schools in Malaysia and different methods were tried to create a situation where this objective of the Talib Education Report could be achieved.
These included legislative, political, administrative and financial pressures, to ‘soften’ up resistance to the change of the character identity of Chinese primary schools. If we look back the past 26 years, we will find that there had been a systematic attempt to change the character of Chinese primary school, and this attempt include refusal to give equality of financial treatment to Chinese primary schools, failure to train a smooth flow of qualified teachers for Chinese primary schools, attempt to drop Chinese language as a examination subject for the Std. V Assessment Test in the early 1970s, removal of the traditional powers of the Boards of Managements, sending clerks unversed in Mandarin to Chinese primary schools, promotion of teachers unversed in Mandarin to senior position in Chinese primary schools, the 3M issue, etc.
The latest challenge to the continued preservation of the character and identity of the Chinese primary school come from the whole-sale promotion of teachers unversed in Mandarin becomes assistant headmasters, senior assistants to Chinese primary schools in Malacca, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and other states since the beginning of last month.
A government and Education Ministry which is sensitive and fully respect the constitutional rights of Chinese primary schools will never do such a thing, whatever the reasons or excuses. Furthermore, if teachers unversed in Mandarin can be promoted to become assistant headmasters and senior assistant in Chinese primary schools, why can’t they be promoted tomorrow to become headmasters?
In the University of Malaya, undergraduates taking optional subjects have to study the Chinese language in the medium of Bahasa Malaysia. Will the next stage of development of Chinese primary schools be the sending of teachers to teach Chinese language in Chinese primary schools in Bahasa Malaysia?
The occurrence of the mass-scale promotion of teachers unversed in Mandarin to become assistant headmasters and senior assistant in Chinese primary schools cannot be taken lightly, for it is taking place at a time when the whole spectrum of political, economic, educational, cultural, religious and nation-building policies are under review because the approach of the year 1990.
Of the mass promotion of teacher unversed in Mandarin to senior positions in Chinese primary schools is allowed to become a ‘fait accompli’ whether because of acceptance or the passage of time, then an important breach to change the character and identity of Chinese primary schools would taken place.
It is for the reason that the DAP has decided to take a firm and uncompromising stand that the Education Ministry must resolve this issue by Oct.9, failing which the party would launch a nation-wide ‘Save Chinese primary schools Campaign’, which will mobilise public opinion throughout the country.
What I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms in the irresponsibility of the MCA and Gerakan Ministers, who have failed Chinese language, education and the Chinese community, for they have not raised this issue at the highest policy level, the Cabinet, although it had met five times since the beginning of the issue.
Last week, MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik said that MCA MPs and Assemblymen who are ‘ineffective’ should resign their elected positions. What about MCA Ministry who are ‘ineffective’ in Cabinet and Government, like the four MA Ministers, including Datuk Dr. Ling himself, in failing to raise the matter in Cabinet for a immediate resolution to the problem?
Bt the principle of collective responsibility, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers are responsible to the people, as much as Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, for this scandalous situation where those unversed in Mandarin were promoted to senior in Chinese primary schools.
Everyday this matter allowed to continue, is an additional day of irresponsibility and failure of the MCA and Gerakan Ministers. I hope the MCA and Gerakan Ministers will have the courage to form a united front, and jointly raise this issue in next Wednesday Cabinet to get the Cabinet to issue a directive to ensure that only teachers versed in Mandarin are promoted to senior positions in Chinese primary schools.
If by the deadline of Oct.9, the Education Ministry does not resolve this problem and end the latest threat to the continued preservation of the character and identity of Chinese primary schools, then the people must be prepared to respond to the DAP’s “Save Chinese primary schools Campaign” in the way they responded to the DAP’s “Save Bukit China Campaign” in 1984.
Let the people then tell the Barisan Nasional, and in particular MCA and Gerakan, that they will e severely punished in the next general elections for the Barisan Nasional Government’s open defiance and contempt for the Chinese community’s legitimate aspirations with regard to the preservation and promotion of Chinese education and Chinese primary schools.