by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Seeretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, August 27, 1990:
DAP, Semangat 46, PRM and AMIPF are likely to take a common stand of staying out of the Consultative Council, on Education Act 1990.
It is most regrettable that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, should use his visit to the Pin Hwa Secondary (Private) School in Klang to announce a $100,000 allocation, to launch a bitter attack on the 27 Chinese educationists and human rights activists who joined the DAP on August 18.
The Prime Minister should realise that in attacking the Chinese educationists, he is in fact attacking
their struggle for government recognition of Chinese education as an integral part of the mainstream national education system.
The MCA and Gerakan leaders may have advised Dr. Mahathir that a good new tactic to use in the
run-up to the coming general elections is to go round the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools to announce $100,000 allocations, and taking the opportunity, to launch bitter attacks on the Chinese educationists as ‘extremists’
If these Chinese educationists are ‘extremists’ as he said yesterday, then their demand that Chinese independent secondary schools should get full government recognition and assistance (including govemmment allocations and grants) is also ‘extremist’.
I want to advise Dr. Mahathir that while the Chinese community welcome the tens of thousands of
ringgit he is prepared to give to the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools because of the approach
of the general elections, they would not appreciate his attacks on the Chinese educationists as they are baseless and untrue.
Who is ‘extremist’ and who is ‘moderate’ in the, 29-year struggle for repeal of Section 21(2) of 1961 Education Act?
Dr. Mahathir said at Pin Hwa yesterday that the Chinese educationists are ‘extremists’ and called on the people to reject the extremists and support the moderates.
Dr. Mahathir had himself admitted that he had at one time been called an ‘ultra’. We have therefore an ‘ultra’ claiming to be a moderate, and accusing others of being ‘extremists’.
The DAP and the Chinese educationists were at one time accused of being ‘chauvinist’ and ‘extremist’ when since the 1960s, we called for the repeal of Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
Today, the UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, claimed Moderation for not opposing the repeal of Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act.
In the history of the 29-year struggle for repeal of Section 21(2), who then are the ‘extremists’ and who the ‘moderates’?
The history of the Section 21(2) repeal struggle shows clearly that those who had been accused for the past 29 years of being ‘extremists’ in demanding its repeal have proved to be the real ‘moderates’, while those who had always opposed its repeal proved to be the real ‘extremists’.
If Dr. Mahathir believes in real democracy, then he should submit the proposed new education bill to the people during the general elections.
Dr. Mahathir said that the Government will formulate the national education policy on its own if representatives of the opposi¬tion withdraw from the Consultative Council on Education and if it
fails to arrive at a consensus.
If Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional believe in real democracy, then they will submit their proposed new education law to the people during the general elections for their verdict.
The Government had worked on the new education law for the past four years, and the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, had even repeatedly said that the Bill was in the ‘final’ stage for presenta-tion to Parliament as far back, as last year.
Suddenly, the UMNO, MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders reached the policy decision that
the detaiIs of the Education Bill 1990 should not be made public before the next general elections, and this was why the Consultative Council on Education Bill was estab¬lished – not to fulfil but to deny democracy, and prevent the voters from, knowing its full contents and deciding whether to accept or reject it.
This is a most undemocratic way of formulating a new educa¬tion law in a country which professes to practise parliamentary democ¬racy, and this is why I had written to the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, asking for five clarifications on the Consultative Council on the Education Bill. The DAP will only decide on the invitation to send a representative to the Consultative Council on Education Bill after we have received the Education Minister’s reply.
The Opposition parties, however, are most unhappy with the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the Consultative Coun¬cil on Education Bill, which should have been set up four years ago at the beginning of the-process to formulate a new education law, and not at present at its tail-end.
If the Consultative Council on the Education Bill is a political gimmick so, that the Barisan Nasional can escape its demo¬cratic duty to submit its proposals on the new education law to the people for their verdict in the general elections, then the DAP is not prepared to lend respectability to such an undemocratic exercise.
DAP has had some discussions with Semangat 46, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and AMIPF on the Consultative Council on the Education Bill 1990, and it is likely that we may take a common stand to stay out of the Consultative Council if its ulterior motive is to deny the people the right to know the contents of the proposed new education law and to decide on it in the next general elections.