By Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 6.10.1987:
Warning to UMNO, whether State or Branch levels, or officials, to stay out of the controversy over Chinese primary schools and not to turn it into a Sino-Malay racial issue.
Malacca UMNO and Kelantan UMNO Youth have come out in support of the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, over his stand on the Education Ministry’s promoting of teachers unversed in Mandarin as assistant headmaster and senior assistants in Chinese primary schools.
Kelantan UMNO Youth leader, Haji Rozali Ishak said that the Ministry’s decision was made “with the aim of achieving national integration.”
How can national integration be advanced when the Education Ministry breaks the 1986 general elections pledge of the Barisan Nasional to preserve the character and integrity of Chinese primary schools, and tramples on the sensitivities of Chinese community on language, education and culture? What the Education Ministry had achieved, in sending those unversed in Mandarin to Chinese primary schools to occupy senior posts, is a set-back national integration by a decade, and not to advance national integration.
I must warn UMNO, whether at State, branch, UMNO Youth level or officials, to stay out of this controversy, for they do not understand it, and there is a danger that they may be tempted to turn it into a Sino-Malay racial issue to become “Malay Heroes” or “UMNO heroes”.
The issue and controversy over sending of teachers unversed in Mandarin on promoting to Chinese primary schools, is not an attack on Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, or any Malay right or sensitivities, it is solely and purely an act of ‘seld-defence’ to preserve the character and identity of Chinese primary schools as promised by the Barisan Nasional in its 1986 general elections manifesto, and as guaranteed in Article 152 of the Malaysia Constitution.
UMNO, whether at State Branch or Youth Level, or its officials, should not therefore turn this issue into a confrontation between Malays and the Chinese, which will aggravate racial polarisation and destroy the investment climate in the country.
If the government wants to change the character of Chinese primary schools by administrative process, then let the Barisan Nasional openly declare that it is renouncing its 1986 general elections pledge.
I hope there are UMNO leaders in Cabinet, Government and Parliament who will be able to see this issue in its proper perspective, that it concerns the honouring of the government’s general elections manifesto. The DAP is also prepared to work in co-operation with these UMNO leaders who are enlightened to realise the importance of honouring election pledge, both in spirit and letter!
I do not want to waste time on the Social Democratic Party (SDP) which has taken a stand which would rank them with the worst UMNO extremists. But all Malaysians must be shocked that SDP should degenerate to this level.