Speech (Part II) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Slang, at the DAP Ceramah at Teluk Tntan Town Hall on ‘Tuesday, May 29, 1990 at 10 p.m.
The person who fears most if there is a second Tien Hou Temple meeting on the Chinese primary schools will be Ong Tin Kin of Gerakan
Gerakan has often boasted that under the Operation Lallang in 1987, on of its leaders, the Gerakan Parliamentary Secretary and MP for Teluk Intan, Ong Tin Kin, was also detained, although he was released after one month and was never formally detained at the Kamunting Detention Centre.
In actual fact, Ong Tin Kin must have been the most unwilling and reluctant ‘detainee’ not only under the Operation Lallang, but also under the Internal Security Act, because he became the victim under the Internal Security Act solely because of his ‘bad luck’.
In October 1987, during the height of the controversy over the appointment of those unversed in Mandarin to become headmasters and senior posts in Chinese primary schools, the Chinese organisations called a meeting of all Chinese organisations and political parties at Tien Hou Temple on the issue.
The MCA, Gerakan and DAP were invited to send their leaders to the Tien Hou Temple meeting. The DAP regarded the Tien Hou Temple meeting as one of great importance, and I represented the party. When MCA found that the DAP was giving the Tien Hou Temple meeting the greatest importance, it also sent Datuk Lee Kim Sai.
However, the top Gerakan leaders were most unwilling to be involved in this issue. Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik as well as other top Gerakan leaders like Kerk Choo Ting and Dr. Koh Tsu
Koon all stayed away from the Tien Hou Temple meeting, giving as an excuse that they had to attend the PBS annual delegates meeting in Sabah.
It is most surprising that Choo Ting and Tsu Koon, who used the slogan of ‘Attack into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ were not prepared to stand as one with the Chinese organisations to rectify the Barisan Nasional on the Chinese primary schools senior appointments issue at the Tien Hou Temple meeting!
As Gerakan cannot stay away from the Tien Hou Temple meeting altogether, the Gerakan leadership decided to send their lowest-level leader, Ong Tin Kin. This was how Ong Tin Kin was detained under Operation Lallang, as in the early days the Barisan Nasional government wanted to give the impression that it was not just arresting the Opposition, but also a few Barisan Nasional leaders.
I have no doubt that if Ong Tin Kin had known that his appearance at the Tien Hou Temple would lead to his detention under the Internal Security Act, however short the detention, he would have stayed away from Tien Hou Temple as well.
This was not the case with the DAP leaders as well as the other Tung/Chiau Chung leaders who were detained under the Internal Security Act under Operation Lallang.
As far as we are concerned, we did no wrong nor did we commit any offence in attending the Tien Hou Temple, for what the Chinese organisations and political parties resolved at the Tien Hou Temple was to use peaceful and democratic means to protect the Chinese primary schools from any change of character.
There is no cause or justification for detaining so many DAP leaders as well as Tung/Chiau Chung leaders during the Operation Lalang in connection with the Chinese primary schools senior appointments controversy.
However, even if we had known that our attendance at the Tien Hou Temple could result in our detention under the ISA, we would not have hesitated in attending the Tien Hou Temple meeting. I believe the same could be said for the four Tung/Chiau Chung and Chinese organisation leaders who were detained under the Operation Lallang.
Currently, the people are faced with another controversy connected with Chinese primary schools arising from the Education Bill 1990 which seeks to abolish the Boards of Management of 432 ‘fully-aided’ Chinese primary schools.
There is talk that if necessary, a second Tien Hou Temple meeting of Chinese organisations and political parties should be convened to preserve the character and identify of Chinese primary schools.
I believe that the person most afraid of a second Tien Hou Temple meeting would be none other than Ong Tin Kin of Gerakan.
As far as the DAP leaders are concerned, if there has to be a second Tien Hou Temple meeting, I will attend, even if it means 1 have to serve a third detention under the Internal Security Act.