Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-¬General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Education Bill 1990 Ceramah held at Bukit Mertajam at the Hokkien Association Hall on Thursday, May 31, 1990 at 9 p.m
DAP calls for a new education policy of an Federal Government grant of $200,000 a year, and annual State Government grant of $100,000 a year, for every Independent Chinese Secondary school
The use of the Official Secret Act by the Education Minister, Anwar lbrahim, to prevent publication of the Education Bill 1990 can only reinforce widespread suspicion that the Barisan National Government would not allow ample time for the public to study it or to enable a full and informed nation-wide public debate before it is forced through Parliament.
The undemocratic method used by Anwar Ibrahim and the Barisan Nasional government to formulate a new education law and system cannot produce a democratic product.
Malaysians who had looked forward to a democratisation the education process are certain to be disappointed, when Members of Parliament who are to debate and vote for the Education Bill 1990in 11 days’ time have not yet been given any report or draft Bill.
All that the Chinese community has been told are tid-bits of information, as the revelation by the Deputy Education Minister, Woon See Chin, that the Education Bill 1990 seeks to abolish the Boards of Management of 432, ‘fully-aided’ Chinese primary schools.
Is the proposal to abolish the Boards of Management connected with the 1987 controversy over Chinese primary schools senior appointments of those unversed in Mandarin?
The question I want to ask it whether the proposal to abolish the Boards of Management of 432 ‘fully-aided’ Chinese primary schools is connected with the 1987 controversy over Chinese primary schools senior appointments of those unversed in Mandarin?
In the 1987 controversy over the appointment Of those unversed in Mandarin to senior posts of Chinese primary schools, the Boards of Management played an important role as the ‘last line of defence’ to prevent any change in the character of the Chinese primary schools.
I have no doubt that if not for the role of the boards of Managements in that crisis faced by Chinese primary schools, the outcome would have been very different.
In Parliament in 1972, on the Education Amendment Bill to provide a new section 26A in the Education Act 1961 for the abolition of the Boards of Management of Chinese primary schools, I reminded the government and the country of the great contribution of the Chinese community in the field of education.
What I said in Parliament 18 years ago remains valid today. I said that due to their long literate tradition, the Chinese had.
Although their forefathers came to Malaysia with nothing but bare hands and a singlet on their backs, they sweated and toiled, not only to lay the foundations of Malaysia’s present prosperity in the estates, tin mines, commerce and finance, but they also built the schools for their children.
No Government should ignore the great contribution of the Chinese school founders and the Chinese community to the development and growth of the Chinese schools, and the great contributions the Chinese public are still making.
The Boards of Managements had been the foster-mother and the life-blood of Chinese schools and education, and if there had been no Board of Management, there would not be a single Chinese school today.
Chong Eu and Keng Yaik spoke up in Parliament in 1972 in support of Section 26(A) to abolish Boards of Management
DAP made it clear in Parliament 18 years ago that we were, and still are, opposed to the abolition of Boards of Management of Chinese Primary schools.
But among those who spoke up against the DAP were Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, then a newly-appointed MCA Senator and Minister for Special Functions, and Dr. Lim Chong Eu, then Gerakan President and Penang Chief Minister. Both of them were the loudest champions of Section 26(A) of the Education Act 1961.
However, due to the vehement and widespread opposition in the Chinese community to Section 26(A) of the Education Act 1961 to abolish the Boards of Management of Chinese primary schools, no action had been taken to date implement Section 26A.
Now, there is a move to implement this provision partially, by separating the over 1,000 Chinese primary schools into ‘fully-aided’ and ‘partially-aided’ on the basis of whether the school land is government or private, beginning with the abolition of the Boards of Management of 432 ‘fully-aided’ Chinese primary schools.
This is the best illustration that so long as the enabling powers are give in a legislation, there will be an attempt to enforce it, whether it takes ten, twenty or more years.
In fact, in the Education Bill 1990, Section 26(A) should follow Section 21(2) and be repealed as well!
When the Barisan Nasional Government reviewed the Education Act 1961 and wanted to introduce an entirely new Education law, it should take into account the long-standing grievances and discontents of the Chinese community with regard to Chinese Education.
Instead of facing more erosion, the Education Bill 1990 should restore to Chinese primary schools their lost rights and status
The new Education Bill 1990 has taken a strange turn, for instead of facing more erosion with the threatened abolition of Boards of Management, there should be a restoration to Chinese education of the rights and status previously enjoyed by it in Malaysia.
Now, the MCA and Gerakan Ministers want to create the impression that they are engaged in big fight to save the Boards Of Management of Chinese primary schools, when what they should be doing is to ensure that the Government should give a new deal for Chinese education and Chinese primary schools in the new Education Act 1990.
For instance, the Barisan Nasional parties should stop ‘playing politics’ with Chinese education, where funds are, allocated to Chinese education and Chinese primary schools during election time to fish for Chinese votes.
When the general elections is around the corner, even the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister could be ‘Santa Claus’ for Chinese Independent Secondary Schools, visiting them and disbursing grants.
The Barisan Nasional Government should stop politicising educational issues in general, and Chinese education in particular. The government should accord fair treatment to Chinese education and Chinese primary schools, not because of votes during election time, but because this is the fair and right thing to do in a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural society.
Article 152(1) (b) of the Malaysian Constitution autho¬rises annual Federal and State Government grants to Chinese Independent Secondary Schools
As a first step to stop Chinese education from being used as a political tool, DAP calls on the Barisan Nasional Government to immediately adopt a new policy whereby, the Federal Government provides an annual grant of $200,000 to every Chinese Independent Secondary School for their development, and every State Government provides a minimum $100,000 annual grant to every Chinese Independent Secondary School in the State.
These annual Federal and State Government grants to the Chinese independent Secondary Schools would be made under Article 152(1) (b) of the Constitution which provides that “nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or of any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation.”
In other words, Article 152(1) (b) of the Constitution authorises the Federal and State Governments to make annual grants to Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.
All these annual grants by the Federal and State Govern¬ments should he strictly without string attached, and the Chinese Independent Secondary School Boards of Management would have full right to decide on the developmental use of these annual government grants.