Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Parliament House on Thursday, Oct 15, 1987 at 4pm
DAP withdraws form Joint Action Committee of Chinese guilds and associations, and political parties, as the Cabinet Ministerial panel on the Chinese primary schools promotion issue does not satisfy the Tien Hou Temple Resolutions in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday to justify the cancellation of the three-day school boycott.
DAP Central Executive Committee, at an emergency today, decided to withdraw from the Chinese organisation/political parties Joint Action Committee as the Cabinet Ministerial panel set up yesterday on the Chinese primary schools promoting issue does not satisfy the Tien Hou Temple Meeting Resolutions in Kuala Lumpur last Sunday to justify the cancellation of the three-day school boycott of the affected schools.
At the Joint Action Committee yesterday, DAP representative Dr. Tan Seng Giaw strongly objected to the cancellation of the three-day school boycott, and even demanded that the DAP’s objections be minuted, which was as follow:
“The DAP has reservations over the formation and sincerity of the Cabinet Committee on the appointment of Headmaster and senior Assistants of nation-type Chinese primary schools. We believe that the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Ghaffar Baba on the matter has not definitely and unequivocally expressed the Government’s acceptance of the basic principle: non-Chinese educated teachers must not be appointed as Headmasters and Senior Assistants of National type Chinese primary schools. If this basic principle is not accepted, it means that the issue may recur. We do not agree with the postponement of the boycott of classes in the national-type Chinese primary schools”
Mr. Lim Fong Seng told Dr. Tan at the meeting that the DAP representative could raise their objections to the cancellation of the school boycott, but could not make its objection public as the DAP is a party to the Chinese organisation/political parties Joint Action Committee.
DAP Central Executive Committee has decided to withdraw from the Chinese organisation/political parties Joint Action Committee because has not adhered to the Tien Hou Temple Resolutions that the school boycott would proceed unless the issue is resolved by yesterday.
Yesterday’s Cabinet Committee of five Ministers does not solve the issue, but merely drags out the issue. In the first place, there is no need for five Ministers to waste Ministerial time to review the cases involved. This should be the work of civil servants in the Education Ministry, based on a principle laid down by the Cabinet.
Instead, the Cabinet has decided on the policy that the Ministers in this case become administrators to review the cases concerned.
If the government is sincere in wanting to resolve the issue, all the Cabinet need to do is to publicly announce that the government accepts the principle that the Chinese primary schools, only Chinese-educated teachers be promoted to senior positions in Chinese primary schools. With this principle established, the review of the cases could be done by any functionary in the Education Ministry.
Ghaffar Baba said yesterday that the Ministerial Committee would review the suitability of the non-Chinese educated teachers promoted as assistant headmaster and senior assistants, and that those suitable will be retained while the rest would be posted to other schools.
This goes against the very crux of the Tien Hou Temple Resolution, which takes the position that all the non-Chinese educated teachers promoted are ‘unsuitable’, and could affect the character and identity of Chinese primary schools.
Without the government accepting the principle that for Chinese primary schools, only Chinese-educated teachers be promoted to senior position, there would be similar transfers and promotions in future – probably not on the massive scale at present, but individually scattered all over the country.
In fact, this had been happening since the 1970s, and this must be stopped once and for all, by the government accepting the principle that in Chinese primary schools, only the Chinese-educated teachers would be promoted to senior administrative positions.
By withdrawing from the Chinese organisation/political parties Joint Action Committee, the DAP is not embarking on a collission course with the Chinese organizations or political parties. We are still prepared to work with the Chinese organizations or political parties, including MCA and Gerakan, on an issue-by-issue and meeting-by-meeting basis. If we are invited to future meetings either on the Chinese primary schools promotion issue or any other issue of common interest, we are prepared to respond, but reserving fully the right to disagree and to make public our disagreement on any issue which we think of great public importance.
In withdrawing form the Joint Action Committee, and dissociating ourselves from the decision taken by the Joint Action Committee yesterday, we want to emphasise that we are not out to escalate feelings in the country. For this reason, the DAP, which has started our own series of protest actions on the issue when our deadline for its resolution expired on 9th October 1987, will suspend all these protest actions, and await outcome of the decision of the Joint Action Committee.