By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, November 21, 1991:
I am prepared to listen to Kim Sai’s views when I meet Liong Sik at the MCA Headquarters next Tuesday.
The MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, yesterday proposed that I have a public discussion with him, in the presence of the Chinese press, with regard to the “process of the government’s constitutional provision to guarantee mother tongue education”. He said that the doors of his office is always open to me.
Lee Kim Sai’s press conference statement, which is his third statement declaring that Chinese primary schools does not have constitutional right, basis and guarantee, is important for two reason:
Firstly, although Kim Sai again claimed that I had ‘broken paragraph and distorted’ his Bukit Mertajam speech, he has not been able to prove how I had ‘broken paragraph and distorted’ him although I had publicly given Kim Sai and the MCA leaders free advice of the three ‘steps’ as to how they could establish such proof.
Let me refer Kim Sai back to his speech at Bukit Mertajam last week, which was headlined by Sin Chew Jit Poh on Wednesday, 13th November 1991 under “Education Act – Ensure continued use of Chinese: Kim Sai – Not constitutional Provision” and the report quoted Kim Sai as saying that “ensuring that the over a thousand Chinese primary schools can continue to use Chinese as a medium of instruction is not because of the Constitutional stipulation that each community could have free use and study of its language, but because of the provision of the Barisan Nasional government under the Act.”
Kim Sai also said that “the Chinese society should understand that the Constitution guarantee the free study and use of the mother tongue, but it does not mean that Chinese language will definitely be the medium of instruction of Chinese primary schools.”
All this is in ‘black and white’ which had never been denied by Kim Sai. Isn’t this the greatest concession by the MCA leadership in its 42-year party history, for the MCA had never conceded or declared before that the Chinese primary schools have no constitutional right, basis and guarantee!
In his second statement which appeared in the press on Friday, 15th November 1991. Instead of clarifying or denying his Bukit Mertajam speech, Kim Sai defended the stand that there is no constitutional right, basis and guarantee for Chinese primary schools, when he said:
“Malaysian Constitution guarantees that the people have free study and use of the mother tongue, but this does not guarantee that the mother tongue automatically becomes the medium of instruction. In fact, it is only through the government’s education laws that could clearly determine what language is used as medium of instruction.”
Kim Sai’s third statement yesterday is a repetition of his first two statement and proved clearly that nobody had ‘broken paragraph and distorted’ what he said, for even yesterday, Kim Sai was not prepared to unequivocally declare the constitutional right, basis and guarantee for the the existence of the Chinese primary schools and that no one, whether from MCA or UMNO, should doubt the constitutional right, basis and guarantee for Chinese primary schools.
Secondly, Kim Sai’s admission and reaffirmation that the present MCA leadership has taken the new policy position that Chinese primary schools in Malaysia have no constitutional right, basis or guarantee.
A sense of spreading panic and desperation among MCA leaders as to how to justify their greatest concession in 42 years.
It is evident from the reactions and statements of the MCA leaders, including Kim Sai, that there is a sense of spreading panic and desperation among MCA leaders as to how to justify their greatest concession in their 42-year party history.
As a result, the MCA leaders, including Kim Sai, had resorted to personal abuses and attacks, half-truths and lies, as well as character-assassination to cloud the issue and distract public attention from the greatest concession of the MCA leadership in the 42-yea party history.
I can follow the example of Kim Sai and other MCA leaders and make personal attacks on Kim Sai, MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik (using some of the ammunition fired by the Kim Sai faction last year) and other MCA leaders – as for example doubting the political integrity of Lee Kim Sai by re-opening his escapade to Australia in October 1987 during Operation Lalang to avoid arrest under the Internal Security Act.
But I will not do so, and all DAP leaders have been asked not to make any personal attacks on the MCA leaders on the important issue of the constitutional right, basis and guarantee of Chinese primary schools.
The issue of the constitutional right, basis and guarantee of Chinese primary schools is too important an issue to be turned into a political football or distracted by baseless and vicious political attacks, character-assassinations, lies and half-truths.
As far as the DAP is concerned, we will confine ourselves strictly to the issue of the constitutional right, basis and guarantee of Chinese primary schools which the present MCA leadership had conceded away!
Since Lee Kim Sai has reaffirmed yesterday that the present MCA leadership has now taken the policy position that Chinese primary schools have no constitutional right, basis and guarantee, what is there to discuss between him and me? As Kim Sai himself said, he had been a Chinese primary schools headmaster, and we should therefore assume he fully understood the implications when he was prepared to publicly declare that the Chinese primary schools have no constitutional right, basis and guarantee!
What should concern the people most is the support given to Kim Sai on this issue by the ‘mainstream’ MCA national leadership – for over a week in this controversy, not a single one of them disagreed with Kim Sai that there is no Constitutional right, basis and guarantee of Chinese primary schools.
Unless the MCA leadership is prepared to publicly admit that it had made a great error in making the
greatest concession in its 42-year party history, it is for them to explain to the Chinese community and the country why they are now taking the stand that the Chinese primary schools have no constitutional basis and guarantee. This is why I propose to meet the MCA President at the MCA Headquarters next Tuesday.
I do not want to create scenes at the MCA Headquarters next Tuesday but to get the MCA leadership to withdraw its greatest concession in party history.
However, I am prepared to listen to Kim Sai’s views when I meet Ling Liong Sik at the MCA Headquarters next Tuesday at 11 a.m. to hear the MCA leadership explain why it has made the greatest concession in the 42-year party history in declaring that there is no constitutional right, basis or existence for the existence of the Chinese primary schools. I am sure Liong Sik will permit Kim Sai to be present.
I urge the MCA leaders to show the people and country that MCA and DAP leaders can sit down to discuss a very important issue concerning the constitutional place, basis, guarantee and future of Chinese primary schools, without any rupture or unseemly incidents.
Let me state in advance that I am prepared to be patient and listen to all that Liong Sik had to say on this issue – and let Liong Sik similarly undertake that he would have equal patience to hear what I have to say in return.
I am going to the MCA headquarters next Tuesday not to create any scene but to ask the MCA leadership to abandon its greatest concession in its 42-year party history or justify such concession.