by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 21st May 1991:
Has the Education Ministry discovered that there is no such thing as a ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ 34 years after Merdeka?
Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Fong Chan Onn, said yesterday that the Ministry of Education is considering changing the subject of Bahasa Malaysia in all secondary and primary schools into Bahasa Melayu.
However, as a media of communication, it will generally be known as ‘Bahasa Kebangsaan’.
This is clearly a retrograde step 34 years after Merdeka and after the completion of the 20-year New Economic Policy with the overriding objective of achieving national unity in Malaysia.
This is a most shocking development, after all the talks in the past few decades about Bahasa Malaysia being the common language of communication, unity and nation buildings in Malaysia.
Has the Education Ministry suddenly discovered 34 years after Merdeka that there is no such thing as a Bahasa Malaysia?
Is the term ‘Bahasa Malaysia’ suddenly to disappear, and to be replaced by Bahasa Melayu in the primary and secondary schools and the previous generation who had emerged from the education systems to be told that they had not been taught Bahasa Malaysia after all, but only Bahasa Melayu?
This will also have the highly divisive connotation that what they had been taught is not a language that belongs to all Malaysians, but only to the Malay race only.
Is the government admitting that all the previous ‘Cintai-lah Bahasa Malaysia’ campaigns were misguided and a total waste?
In the past, the Government had launched year in and year out ‘Cintai-lah Bahasa Malaysia’ campaigns. Is the Barisan Nasional Government now admitting that all these ‘Cintai-lah Bahasa Malaysia’ campaigns were misguided and a total waste because there is nothing to cinta as there is no Bahasa Malaysia in the first place?
Is the new campaign going to be ‘Cintai-lah Bahasa Melayu’?
DAP must ask the Education Ministry and the Barisan Nasional government as to what games they are playing. Instead of uniting Malaysians and in particular the new generation of Malaysians of diverse races, the Ministry of Education seems intent on implanting the seeds of division and separateness among the young at the most tender age.
Has the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development been consulted on this proposal which has such a vast implication on national unity and nation building in Malaysia? Are the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and Deputy Ministers in full support and agreement with the UMNO Ministers and Deputy Ministers on this proposal?
Is the new Education Act Consultative Committee still in existence and functioning or has it become defunct with the change of the Education Minister?
Has the new Education Act Consultative Council been consulted on this proposal to rename the subject of Bahasa Malaysia with Bahasa Melayu?
Nobody has heard of the Education Act Consultative Council after the general elections, particularly after Anwar Ibrahim became the Finance Minister, and the people are entitlted to know whether the the new Education Act Consultative Council is still in existence and functioning or has become defunct with the change of the Education Minister.