Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the Parit Jawa DAP Branch Anniversary Dinner held at Parit Jawa, Muar on Friday, May 27, 1994 at 8 pm
DAP calls for a National Conference on the repeal of ISA and the abolition of undemocratic laws in Malaysia
In the past few days, both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister spoke about the review of the Internal Security Act not to repeal the ISA or abolish detention without trial laws, but to review certain provisions in the ISA, like the period of detention and probably the function of the Advisory Board which hears appeals against detention by ISA detainees.
In three months’ time, Malaysia will be celebrating our 37th National Day since Merdeka in 1957. Next year will also be the 35th year the ISA had been passed by Parliament in 1960.
The time has therefore come for a nation-wide review of the ISA, not just certain administrative provisions and mechanisms but the very rationale and necessity of the ISA and its continuance.
This review should aim at bringing Malaysian laws in line with the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Malaysian constitution, with the view to repeal all laws which abridge such fundamental liberties like the; Internal Security Act.
Such a comprehensive review should not be confined to a few government officials in the Home Ministry or the National Security Council, but must involve the widest participation of all political parties, public interest organisations and con¬cerned Malaysians.
DAP therefore calls for the convening of a National Conference for the repeal of the ISA and the abolition of undemo¬cratic laws in Malaysia.
The initiative of such a National Conference should be taken by the Government as in the establishment of a Royal Com¬mission of Inquiry comprising representatives from all political parties and public interest organisations.
Alternatively, Parliament can establish an all-party Parliamentary Commission to inquire into ISA and all undemocratic laws in the country and invite public views and representations as to how to democratise Malaysia.
If the Government and Parliament are not prepared to take such initiatives, then non-governmental public interest organisations should consider convening such a National Conference for the repeal of ISA and abolition of undemocratic laws in the country.
If the initiatives are left to the non-governmental public interest organisations, then different NGOs can organise separate conferences on democracy and human rights in Malaysia.
The DAP, for its part, is prepared to consider the convening of a National Conference on the ISA and undemocratic laws in the country.
DAP calls on Barisan Nasional Government to give full recognition to national-type Chinese primary schools by directing State Governments to alienate state land at nominal premium either for their expansion or for new national-type Chinese primary schools
Last week, I called on the Government to proclaim in Parliament in July a National Charter on Chinese Education which gives full and formal government recognition to Chinese primary schools, Chinese independent secondary schools and Chinese educa¬tion in the Malaysian national education system.
The people do not want the Barisan Nasional Government and its component parties to play the ‘Chinese education card’ like the ‘Chinese culture card’ before each general elections, only to forget about them after the elections.
Malaysians can still remember the promise made by Tan Koon Swan as MCA President in the 1986 general elections that the Barisan Nasional Government would repeal Clause 21(2) of the 1961 -Education Act in the first Parliamentary meeting after the gener¬al elections – but this solemn election pledge had been broken for eight years already!
The National Charter on Chinese Education should also spell out the short-term, medium-term and long-term, Government financial commitments far Chinese primary schools and Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and the national strategy to pro¬mote and develop Chinese primary schools, Chinese independent secondary schools and Chinese education in Malaysia.
In this National Charter on Chinese Education, the Government should abandon its previous biases, prejudices and discrimination against Chinese primary schools and adopt a com¬pletely new spirit, approach and policies to develop and promote Chinese primary school.
For instance, the Barisan Nasional Government should give full recognition to national-type Chinese primary schools by directing state governments to alienate state land at nominal premium either for their expansion or the building of new nation¬al-type Chinese primary schools.
Suggestion to Mohamad Rahmat to raise issue in Cabinet as MCA Ministers would never dare to make the request
I had in fact discussed this proposal with the Minis¬ter for Information, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat in Parliament earlier this month.
This was the time when Datuk Mahamed Rahmat created newspaper headlines with his allegation to Chinese primary schools were turning away Malay pupils.
I told Datuk Mohamed Rahmat that there was no basis to such an allegation, and that the problem faced by Chinese primary schools was one of supply and demand and that in urban areas there were inadequate school places to meet the great demand – and as a result, many Chinese pupils were asoturned away from the Chinese primary schools.
I spoke to Mohamed Rahmat about the Kuo Kuang Chinese Primary School in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah in Johore Bahru which, with close to 5,000 pupils, is the largest primary school in the country – and probably the largest in South-East Asia.
Kuo Kuang Chinese Primary School is in the parliamentary constituency of Datuk Mohamad Rahmat, and he told me that it was he who got Cabinet approval far the establishment of a Kuo Kuang Chinese Primary School (2). This is to Mohamed Rahmat’s credit and a shame, to the MCA and Gerakan Ministers.
However, I told Mohamed Rahmat that it is not good enough to get approval for the establishment of a Kuo Kuang Chinese Primary School (2) if the Government is not prepared to alienate land.
This is where Datuk Mohamed Rahmat mentioned about the different government attitude towards Chinese primary schools which are fully-government-owned and those which are owned by the Chinese community where the land is held in the name of the Boards of Managements – where the government can alienate land with nominal premium for the former but not the latter.
I had then asked Datuk Mohamed Rahmat to raise in Cabinet the proposal to change such a government attitude and to adopt a new government policy where the Government would not make any distinction between Chinese primary schools which are fully government owned and which are owned by the Chinese community.
I made this proposal to Mohamed Rahmat as the MCA and Gerakan Ministers would never dare to make such a request. In fact, I will not be surprised if MCA and Gerakan Ministers accuse me of being ‘chauvinist’ of making such a proposal!
Are the MCA and Gerakan Ministers prepared to support my proposal and take a common stand in the Cabinet for a new government policy for alienation of government land for the expansion of Chinese ‘primary schools or the building of new ones, regardless of whether they are fully government owned or government-aided schools?
DAP will vote against hukum hudud enactment if it is brought to Parliament, whether by PAS, Semangat 46 or UMNO
DAP has always been consistent in our stand on the fundamental right to freedom of religion in Malaysia and the defence of the secular basis of the nation.
We have made clear that we oppose the introduction of hukum hudud enactment in Malaysia, as it is unsuitable and inap¬propriate for a multi-racial and multi-religious nation.
For this reason, the DAP supported and welcomed the rejection of the hukum hudud enactment enacted by the PAS-led Kelantan State Government by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, although we are not fully happy with the reasons given by Dr. Mahathir.
From Dr. Mahathir’s reasoning, it would appear that the UMNO Supreme Council had rejected the Kelantan hukum hudud enactment because it was mooted by PAS and was not Islamic enough. It raises the question whether one day, UMNO might itself propose hukum hudud enactment which it regards enough. When that happens, what would be the position of MCA and Gerakan Ministers and MPs – who have never been known to agree with any policy position adopted by UMNO.
As for the DAP, we will oppose the hukum hudud enactment if it is brought to Parliament – whether by PAS, Semangat 46 or UMNO.