Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Ceramah on Education Bill 1990 in Batu Pahat held at Cheng Siew Chinese primary school hall on Saturday, 9th June 1990 at 7.30 pm.
DAP opposes the transfer of the Section 21(2) powers from the Education Minister to the Registrar-General of Schools who would have the power under the new Education Act to close down Chinese primary Schools
It was reported in today’s press that the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, had briefed headmasters and teachers that although Section 21(2) would be repealed, this would not mean a reduction in the powers of the Education Minister, as under the Education Bill 1990, the Registrar-General of Schools would have the power to close down schools which are against the national interest’.
This is completely unacceptable. The DAP oppose the transfer of the Section 21(2) powers of the Education Minister to the Registrar-General of Schools, who would be conferred the power under the new Education Act 1990 to close down Chinese and Tamil primary schools, if he thinks that this is ‘against the national interest’.
Such a new provision s no different from giving life in another form to Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act, which confers powers on the Education Minister to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools ‘if he deems fit’, by vesting such powers in the Registrar-General of Schools.
It is open knowledge that many extremist and influential UMNO leaders had always regarded the existence of Chinese and Tamil primary schools as ‘against the national interest’, and their existence being temporary and traditional.
So long as the ‘long-term objective’ of the National Education Policy of the Barisan Nasional government is to have Bahasa Malaysia as the main medium of instruction in all schools, then a day will come when the continued existence of the Chinese and Tamil primary schools will be regarded as ‘against the national interest’.
If Section 21(2) is repealed only to be replaced by a new provision conferring powers on the Registrar-General of Schools to close down schools which are ‘against the national interest’, this is only jumping from the frying pan into the fire for Chinese and Tamil primary schools.
The power of the Registrar-General of Schools to close down schools will be a completely new power which never existed even under the Education Act 1961. What is the need for such a new power, when it was never needed for the last 30 years?
Statutory Provision in the new Education Act to vest powers in the Boards of Management to veto any closure of Chinese primary schools by the Registrar-General of Schools
If the new Education Act is to vest such new and vast powers in the Registrar-General of Schools, then the role of the Board of Management of Chinese primary schools is even more vital.
This is why the DAP wants the new Education Act to spell out clearly that the Boards of Management of all Chinese primary schools have as one of its functions, objectives and powers, to preserve the character and identity of Chinese primary schools.
The Boards of Management of the Chinese primary schools should have the statutory power to veto any closure of Chinese primary schools by the Registrar-General of Schools.
Furthermore, the distinction between the so-called ‘fully-aided’ and ‘partially-aided’ Chinese primary schools on the basis of whether the school land is Government-owned or privately-owned, should be removed.
This distinction between ‘fully-aided’ and ‘partially-aided’ Chinese primary schools was created only in the last two years. I want to ask the MCA and Gerakan Ministers why they agreed to such a distinction, which made it easier for a ‘divide and rule’ policy to be devised.
The six-man Cabinet Committee on the Education Bill is meeting on Monday for the eighth time. I call on the Cabinet Committee to make public the Education Bill 1990 immediately after Monday’s meeting, to prove that the Barisan Nasional Government respect the people’s democratic right to have ample time to study and debate major changes to the education system and law.