Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Chairman of the DAP Perak Defend Five Win Six Special Task Force, Lim Kit Siang, at the third Task Force meeting held in Ipoh on Monday, 30th April 1990 at 8 p.m.
Will MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers resign from the Cabinet if the Chinese community are unhappy and opposed to the Education Act amendments when they are made public?
The secretive and mysterious manner in which the Education Act 1961 is being amended, whether by new amendments or by a entirely new Act, has raised widespread and justified fears that such a highly undemocratic process cannot produce results which is acceptable to the people.
Chinese educational bodies are particularly concerned by the undemocratic manner in formulating amendments to the Education Act, and this has been clearly expressed in the general meetings of Tung Chiau Chung held over the weekend.
The widespread concerned as to the adverse effect of the Education Act proposals on Chinese education are not unfounded, on the basis of the past history of the government’s educational changes.
Furthermore, if the Education Act proposals are beneficial to Chinese education, the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers would have made them public long ago. The very fact that these proposals are still kept under ‘lock-and-key’ and protected by the Official Secrets Act can only mean that they cannot be good for Chinese education in the 1990s and the 21st century.
MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers have been assuring the Chinese community that the amendments to the Education Act, which are to be tabled in the June meeting of Parliament for passage, would not be detrimental to Chinese education.
I want to ask the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers whether they are prepared to resign from the Cabinet if the Chinese educational bodies and community are unhappy with the Education Act amendments, especially with regard to Chinese education, when they are made public?
If the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers are not prepared to make this commitment, then they should stop making empty promises and assurances, especially when the Barisan Nasional pledge in the 1986 general elections to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act by before the end of 1986 had been dishonoured.
DAP to launch a national-wide series of ceramahs and seminars on the Education Act amendments
An open and democratic government will give the people at least six months to a year to study and discuss major legislative changes concerning education.
However, from the present indications, I will be surprised if the Malaysian public will get two weeks to study and discuss the Education Act amendments before the two-thirds Barisan Nasional majority in Parliament give them blind and unthinking passage.
DAP calls on all Malaysian organisations and individuals to be concerned about the Education Act amendments, and to demand that the Barisan Nasional government respect the democratic process and to allow the people an ample opportunity to study and discuss the amendment before they are forces through the Dewan Rakyat in June.
The DAP will organize a series of nation-wide ceramahs and seminars on the Education Act amendments, not only to prptest against the undemocratic manner in which the Barisan Nasional Government is going about changing education laws and the education system, but the educational amendments which the Barisan Nasional government are likely to introduce.
DAP has no confidence in the Cabinet Committee on Education Act proposals
DAP has no confidence in the six-man Cabinet Committee on Education Act proposals set up earlier this months, with Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, as Chairman, and comprising Datuk Samy Vellu, Datuk Ng Cheng Kiat, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, Datuk Amar Stephen Yong and Datuk Najib Tun Razak.
At the height of the controversy on the appointment of those unversed in Mandarin to senior posts in Chinese primary schools in October 1987, a Cabinet Committee of almost similar membership was set up, but up to now, the problem has not been resolved.
From the speeches and statements made by the Education Minister and members of the Cabinet Committee on Education Act proposals after their first meeting, I get the impression that the Cabinet Committee’s main purpose is to co-ordinate a strategy against the DAP and other Opposition parties on the Education Act proposals by the Barisan Nasional component parties.
This is why Anwar Ibrahim fired the first salvo after the first Cabinet Committee meeting, accusing the DAP of not being sincerely concerned with educational problems as we had not submitted any memorandum to the government, disregarding the fact that the DAP had been repeatedly asking for a copy of the draft on recommended changes to the Education Act.
I had replied to Anwar Ibrahim that the DAP will send him a memorandum of our views and proposals within a month of receipt of a copy of the government’s proposed changes to the Education Act, but there has been no reply from the Education Minister.