Speech by parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Selangor DAP State Leadership Training Course held at Taiwan Graduates Alumni Association Hall, Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 4.10.1987 at 10 a.m.
DAP prepared to co-operate fully with MCA provided it adopts a consistent and principle stand in Cabinet, Government and Parliament on the latest threat to the preservation of the character and identity of Chinese primary schools.
MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, announced after a five-hour meeting of the MCA Central Committee yesterday, that the MCA cannot accept the promotion of those without Chinese language qualification as headmaster, assistant headmaster or senior assistants in Chinese primary schools, as this will lead to the change in character of Chinese primary schools and violate the Barisan Nasional 1986 general elections manifesto.
I welcome the statement by Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, although I cannot understand why he is making a statement on such an important issue only after more than a month had passed since the start of the issue. I also cannot understand why MCA Central Committee had take over five hours on an issue which is so simple and straightforward, as the sending of those unversed in Mandarin to become assistant headmasters and senior assistants of Chinese primary schools will change the character and identity of Chinese primary schools.
In actual fact, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and Deputy Ministers must bear a great responsibility for this issue reaching this stage. Although MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Wong See Shin, said in Muar yesterday that this problem would not spread to other states apart from Penang and Malacca, Chinese primary schools in five states had already been affected, namely Penang, Malacca, Perlis, Selangor and Federal Territory.
Another reason why MCA and Gerakan Ministers and Deputy Ministers must bear a great responsibility for this issue reaching the present proportion is their failure to nip it in the bud when it first occurred, especially as it violates the Barisan Nasional general elections manifesto! I cannot imagine the UMNO Ministers and Deputy Ministers would allow any issue to get off the ground if it violates basic rights of the Malay community, or the Barisan Nasional general election manifesto.
If a similar type of issue, like the sending of those unversed in Mandarin to become assistant headmasters and senior assistants in Chinese primary schools, had happened in Malay society affecting their sensitivities and rights, UMNO Ministers and Deputy Ministers would have been “up in arms” within 24 hours, demanding rectification and the punishment of those responsible, and not wait for more than a month for the UMNO Supreme Council to meet for over five hours over the issue! I also cannot imagine that UMNO Ministers could allow five Cabinet meeting to take place without the issue being brought up at all!
However, if the MCA is now serious, and is prepared to be consistent and principled on this issue in Cabinet, Government and Parliament, then the DAP is prepared to co-operate fully with MCA on this issue, for it represents the most threat to the continued preservation of the character and identity of Chinese primary schools since the 3M issue six years ago.
DAP proposes a “Three Lim Council” of MCA, Gerakan and DAP to defend the character of Chinese primary schools.
I will go further, and offer our hand of co-operate to MCA and Gerakan on this issue. I suggest that the three parties form a “Three Lim” Council, comprising Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and myself to defend the character of Chinese primary schools, and in particular to bring to an immediate end the issue of Education Ministry sending those unversed in Mandarin to become assistant headmaster and senior assistant of chines primary schools.
There is no time for delay, for with every passing day, there is a potential of escalation of the issue with the open and stubborn stand of the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, two days ago refusing to respect the appeals of the parents, Boards of Managements, Parent-Teacher Associations and the Chinese community.
The MCA and Gerakan Ministers and Deputy Ministers had allowed more than a month to pass without doing anything firm and concrete, and we must unite at all levels of government and society to demand the immediate resolution of this issue.
If not, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers must turn the next Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 7, into a Cabinet meeting where only this issue is discussed, and if no Cabinet solution is forthcoming, the people will expect action from the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
If Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lim Keng Yaik support my proposal of a “Three Lim Council” of MCA, Gerakan and DAP on this issue, and the whole question of the preservation of character of Chinese primary schools, I am prepared to cancel al my appointments for an urgent initial meeting to be held before the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Anwar Ibrahim must be warned that he must accept full responsibility for all consequences in the Education Ministry’s actions in disregarding the sensitivities of the Chinese community on the preservation of character of Chinese primary schools.
Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, must be warned that he must accept full responsibility for all consequences in the Education Ministry’s actions in disregarding the sensitivities of the Chinese community on the preservation of character of Chinese primary schools.
Let no one accuse the Chinese community for being ‘chauvinistic’ or ‘communal’ on this issue, for what the Chinese community is doing is an act of ‘self-defence’, to preserve the character of Chinese primary schools.
After 30 years of Merdeka, if the Education Minister and his Ministry officials do not know that they are stirring a hornet’s nest in promoting those unversed in Mandarin to senior posts in Chinese primary schools, then they are too insensitive and out of touch with the realities of Malaysian society, and throws doubt on their suitability and qualifications of being put in positions of responsibility in a multi-racial, multi-lingual Malaysia.
Anwar Ibrahim should issue a directive to transfer out all those unversed in Mandarin who had been promoted to Chinese primary schools, before this issue escalates, which will seriously set back the nation’s economic recovery, and deepen the crisis of confidence which had afflicted Malaysia for the past three years, driving away investment both local and foreign.
DAP to announce composition of its Save Chinese Primary Schools Campaign Committee tomorrow
In Penang on 25th September 1987, I had given the Education Ministry a two-week ultimatum to resolve this issue, failing which we will launch a nation-wide Save Chinese Primary Schools campaign.
We cannot accept the proposal that the Education Ministry be given six months to test out the promoting of those unversed in Mandarin as it is nothing more than a delaying tactic, hoping to present the Chinese community with a ‘fait accompli’ with the passage of time.
The DAP’s nation-wide Save Chinese Primary Schools Campaign will be headed by DAP National Vice Chairman, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (MP for Kepong), and the full composition will be announced tomorrow.
The two-week deadline expires on Friday, 9th October 1987. If this deadline is ignored, then DAP Save Primary Schools Campaign Committee will meet to finalise and implement a series of action nation-wide for the campaign.