by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 24th April 1990:
The first thing the Cabinet Committee on Education Act amendments should do is to make public all the reports, recommendations, proposals and draft Bill for a full public discussion, as it is going to affect the educational future of young generations of Malaysians and the destiny of the nation.
The Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, has gone on public record as opposing any move to make public the reports, recommendations, proposals and draft Bill to the public for a full national debate.
I find this stand of the Education Minister most perplexing and incomprehensible. Anwar Ibrahim has been going up and down the country talking about ‘democratisation’ of the educational process. How could the education system be ‘democratised’ if the new Education Bill is formulated in so undemocratic and high-handed a manner, where there is no opportunity for full public and democratic participation?
If Anwar wants to ‘democtatise’ education in Malaysia, the he must fully observe the democratic spirit in the entire process to amend the Education Act 1961 or to formulate a new Education Bill.
In fact, all the positions papers, memoranda and reports which had been used by the various committees involved in the amendments of the Education Act should be made public and not kept under lock and key, on the ground of ‘Official Secrets Act’.
So long as the Barisan Nasional Ministers use the Oficial Secrets Act as an excuse to refuse to make public all the reports, recommendations and proposals with regard to the amendments to the Education Act, Anwar Ibrahim has deviated from his own professed goals of the ‘democratisation’ of the education process and system in Malaysia.
Anwar is not presiding over the ‘democratisation’ but the ‘politicisation’ and ‘bureaucratisation’ of the education process.
As UNESCO President, anwar should have set an international example on the democratisation of the new educational laws.
Anwar failing his national and international responsibilities to set an example of democratisation of education laws
Anwar is failing his national and international responsibilities to set an example in the democratisation of education laws. How can the education laws be democratic, when the process used to formulate it is so undemocratic?
The six-man Cabinet Committee should override the Education Minister on this question, if Anwar refuses to change his mind, and order the immediate release to the public of all papers, reports, recommendations, proposals as well, as the draft Bill with regard to amendments to the Education Act.
Today, the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Woon See Chin, has spoken about some of the areas affected by the new educational amendments, as if rationing out information in dribs and drabs.
This is most unsatisfactory and unacceptable. The people do not want second-hand and incomplete information from either the Deputy Minister or even the Minister of Education on a matter of such great importance to the people and nation. They want all the reports, recommendations and proposals published in full, so that they could make a serious study themselves, and not through the spectacles or incomplete utterances of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, which could always be denied later.
The DAP is very unhappy and strongly opposed to the most undemocratic manner in which the Barisan Nasional is going about amending the Education Act. We call on Anwar Ibrahim and the Cabinet Committee to fully respect the spirit of democracy and make public all the reports, recommendations, proposals and the draft Bill to enable a full public discussion of from six months to a year.
The DAP is considering organising nation-wide protest meetings against the undemocratic and high-handed manner in which the new Education laws are being formulated.