By Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, Oct. 5, 1987:
MCA and Gerakan should ask for the dismissal of Anwar Ibrahim as Education Minister if he defies the sensitivities of the Chinese community in refusing to budge from the decision to promote those unversed in Mandarin to senior positions in Chinese primary schools.
Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said in Malacca yesterday that the government will stand by its decision to promote non-Chinese educated teachers as headmasters and senior assistant in Chinese primary schools.
How can the Education Minister claim to speak on behalf of the government, when four MCA Ministers, through the MCA Central Committee, have declared their opposition to this decision?
If the Education Minister persists in defying the sensitivities of the Chinese community in refusing to budge from the decision sending those unversed in Mandarin on promoting as assistant headmasters and senior assistant in Chinese primary schools, then the MCA and Gerakan should demand for Anwar Ibrahim’s dismissal as Education Minister.
Anwar Ibrahim said that the Education Ministry would not give in to political pressure on this issue as it could not be dictated by political parties. Is Anwar meaning that the Education Ministry would only be dictated by UMNO and not by other political parties?
In political life, all Ministries and Ministers are always under political pressure, and the issue is not whether there is political pressure, but whether the principles involved is right and just.
Just because there is political pressure, and using it as excuse for not changing a policy which is bad, unjust and wrong, is the most unjustifiable of all grounds.
Anwar said it was only right and fair that non-Chinese educated teachers who had been promoted as headmasters and senior assistants of Chinese primary schools should be rewarded as they had served with dedication for more than 10 years. I agree with Anwar that these teachers should be rewarded, but they should be promoted to national primary schools or national secondary schools, and not Chinese primary schools.
In actual fact, these teachers had never intended to be promoted to Chinese primary schools when they submitted their applications, and are as surprised as the Chinese primary schools when they were posted to them. These teachers have been placed in a very awkward and embarrassing situation, and would not be able to carry out their duties effectively because of the united opposition of the Chinese primary school Board of Management, PTAs, parent and the Chinese community.
If Anwar Ibrahim wants to be fair to these teachers, they should be re-posted to bational schools, so that these teachers would not be ‘sandwiched’ between the unjust policy of the Education Ministry and the righteous protest of the Chinese community.
Education Minster Anwar Ibrahim also tried to present the opposition as unreasonable when claimed that the Ministry had “tried to be very reasonable and have taken into consideration all views expressed.” When the decision to send those unversed in Mandarin to Chinese primary schools on promoting is so wrong and unreasonable, how could any adjustments be ‘reasonable’ which does not tantamount to the withdrawal of the directive?
I am surprised that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, justified the promotions on the ground that the Chinese teachers concerned are fluent in Hokkien or Cantonese. When is the Education Ministry going to introduce Hokkien or Cantonese as mew medium of instruction in Chinese primary schools? Dr. Mahathir should intervene in this matter before it gets out of hand.