By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim kit Siang, in Penang on Tuesday,4rd January , 1994:
Has the Education Ministry revised the long-term higher education policy announced by the Prime Minister only two weeks ago in Parliament on the percentage of the 19-24 year age group who would receive tertiary education in 2000 and 2020?
While welcoming the Clients’ Charter of the Education Ministry and the several bold educational targets as announced by the Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud yesterday, Malaysians are entitled to ask whether the government is fully committee to these goals.
These questions become all the more pertinent when up to now, the government has not been able to present to Parliament the proposed new Education Bill which it had been talking about since the mid-1980s , nor has it been able yet present amendments to the Universities and University colleges Act which would free the institutions of higher learning from the fetters which had stunted academic freedom and excellence.
There has also been contradictions in the announcement ,ade bu Datuk Dr. Sulaiman Daud yesterday.
Dr. Sulaiman said that among the education Ministry’s Main Targets to be met by the year 2000 included the provision of tertiary education to 30 percent of the population between the ages of 19 and 24 , that is for local institutions at higher learning to provide placed for 20,000 to 30,000 students.
Who is right – Dr. Sulaiman Daud or Dr Mahathir?
This contradicts the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who made the following speech when introducing the sixth Malaysia Plan Mid Term Review in the Dewan Rakyat on 16th December 1993:
“The Government will formulate a long-term plan for higher education. Economic development as envisaged by Vision 2020 will create a demand ad additional manpower with higher education level. Enrolment at the tertiary level should reach 20 per cent of the 19-24 year age group by 2020 compared with only 7.3 percent in 1900.’
Has the Education Ministry revised the long-term higher education policy announced by the Prime Ministry in Parliament only two weeks ago on the percentage of the 19-24 year age group who will receive tertiary education – from Dr. Mahathir’s target of 20 per cent in the year 2020 to dr. Sulaiman ‘s target of 30 percent in the year 2000?
Who is right – Dr. Sulaiman Daud or Dr. Mahathir Mohamad?
While we await a full clarification on the contradiction between the Prime Minister and the Education Minister, we nonetheless welcome the new awareness of the government to the critical importance of education and the development of human resources in determining Malaysia’s economic future.
Malaysia would have been among the ranks if not the forefront of the little dragons if the highest priority had been given to education in the last 30 years
Japan and the four ‘little dragons’ – Taiwan, South Korea, HongKong and Singapore – have become miracle economies precisely because of the emphasis they placed on education and development of human resources.
With our vast natural resources, Malaysia would have been among the ranks – if not in the forefront – of the little the development of human resources in the last thirty years and not allowed short-sighted policies to stunt our national development potential.
One consistent DAP theme in Parliament in the 1970s and 1980s has been the need for an open and liberal higher education policy and the warning that Malaysia was being left far behind Japan and the four ‘little dragons’ because of our education policy. In 1970 s , I had spoken in Parliament about the need for the establishment of one university for each state in Malaysia.
This is the best example of the constructive and farsighted contribution of the DAP to the long-term well-being and welfare of the country.
Dr. Sulaiman Daud said that there new universities would be set up by 2000. This is clearly inadequate and furthermore, can Dr.Sulaiman Daud honour the undertaking given by the former Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafer Baba, that the next university to be established in Malaysia would be sited in Sabah?