By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Thursday, August 30, 1990:
Anwar has failed to answer the most important question: whether the Education Act Consultative Council is to deny the voters the right to know the contents of the Bill and to decide whether to endorse or reject them in next general elections.
After the Cabinet meeting yesterday, the Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim said that members of the Consultative Council on the Education Act will not be bound by the Official Secrets Act, but the circulation of the draft Education Bill would be limited and its contents cannot be printed without permissions.
What happens if members of the Consultative Council on the Education Act circulate the draft without permission of the Education Minister? Would they lie penalized on punished or charged in court?
However, what is most significant is that the Education Minister has failed to answer the most important question: whether the Education Act Consultative Council was set up to deny the voters the right to know the contents of the Education Act 1990 and to decide whether to endorse or reject the proposals in the next general elections.
In response to one clarification sought for by the DAP on whether he could give any assurance that Parliament would not be dissolved before the Consultative Council had completed its work and submitted its report to the Government and Parliament, Anwar evaded the issue by claiming that such a decision did not lie with the Education Ministry.
Anwar Ibrahim is just playing games. He made the various announcements about the Consultative Council yesterday after he had the approval of the Cabinet. As the Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet, why couldn’t the Prime Minister authorize Anwar to give a clear-cut statement that as the Cabinet was setting up the Consultative Council on Education Act at so late in the process of the formulation of the Education Act 1990, Parliament would not be dissolved until the Consultative council had time to complete its work.
Otherwise, the establishment of the Consultative Council is politically motivated and with the coming general elections in mind, to enable the Barisan Nasional Government to have an excuse not to make its contents know to the voters.
If the Barisan Nasional Government really believes in democracy, then why is it not prepared to make a public commitment that in the next general elections, it would make public the full contents of the Education Bill to allow the voters to decide in the general elections whether to endorse or reject it?
Yesterday, after the cabinet meeting, Anwar Ibrahim appeared to be all reasonableness – when only in the previous few days, he had been stumping all over the country telling lies about the DAP and openly inciting inter-racial misunderstanding and hatred, by distorting the DAP’s stand on the Consultative Council.
Everybody, know that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, is touring the country in preparations for the general elections. The people have a right to know why if the general elections is so close, the Government chooses to form such a Consultative Council at this time – when such a Consultative Council should have been formed four years ago when the government started the process to formulate a new education act?
It has been reported that Parti Rakyat Malaysia and PAS have announced that they would not join the Consultative Council.
Yesterday, Malaysians read about the withdrawal of five members of the National Economic Consultative Council, namely former Auditor-General Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, Aliran President Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, lawyer Chooi Mun Sou, PRM Secretary-General Dr. Sanusi Osman and lecturer Dr. K.S. Jomo, in protest against the Barisan Nasional Government’s lack of sincerity in establishing the NECC.
With this background of the NECC, and the Barisan Nasional’s political motive in setting up the Education Act Consultative Council in serve its general elections purpose to deny the voters the right to decide on whether to accept or reject the new education law it is unlikely that much purpose will be served by joining the Consultative Council.
However, the DAP will wait for Anwar Ibrahim’s official reply to our letter before making a final decision.