Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP `Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Wednesday, October 5, 1994 at 11.30 a.m.
DAP welcomes the new government decision to allocate maintenance funds to partially-assisted Chinese schools for this year but wants a fundamental change of Chinese education policy of the Barisan Nasional Government to give fair and equal treatment to Chinese primary schools and not a one-time ‘general election gimmick’
DAP welcomes the new government decision announced by the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Fong Chan Onn to allocate maintenance funds to partially-assisted Chinese primary schools as well as national-type secondary schools.
Up to now, the Chinese community had to pay an additional ‘income tax” in having to bear the bulk of the development costs of the Chinese primary schools, particularly the partially-assisted Chinese primary-schools, which had been deprived of fair development treatment and allocation for over three decades as the government had confined its financial responsibility to their administrative expenses.
I note however two qualifications in Dr. Fong Chan Onn’s announcement about the new Education Ministry decision about allocation of maintenance funds for Chinese primary schools: Firstly, that the a1location of maintenance funds to partially-assisted Chinese primary schools is only for this year and all applications and approvals, must be made by the end of the year and secondly, that the maintenance funds cannot be used for building of new classrooms or school premises but strictly for maintenance.
This raises two key questions:
Is the allocation of ’maintenance’ funds to partially-assisted, Chinese primary schools the result of a fundamental change of the Chinese education policy of the Barisan Nasional Government to give fair and equal treatment to Chinese primary schools as to all nationa primary schools, or is it just a one-time ‘general elections’ gimmick, like the promise of RM5 million allocation to the nine Chinese Independent Second¬ary Schools in Sabah during the Sabah state general elections?
If the allocation of ‘maintenance’ funds to partially-assisted Chinese primary schools repre-sent a fundamentlal change of the Chines education policy and not just a one-time ‘election gimmick’, why Dr. Fong Chan Onn had omitted this important aspect in his announcement, and furthermore, why restrict such allocations to partially-assisted Chinese primary schools for ‘maintenance’ purposes and not for the construction of new classrooms or new school premises?
Does this mean that the Chinese primary schools particularly the partially-assisted, still cannot expect fair and equal treatment on the construction of new classrooms, school premises or even the building of new Chinese primary schools?
Yesterday, Dr. Fong Chan Onn announced that the Education Ministry has allocated RM5.5 million to 85 Chinese primary schools in Selangor for maintenance purposes.
This seems to be quite a big sum but it pales into insignificance when it is compared to the total maintenance funds which the Finance Ministry has allocated to the Education Ministry for school maintenance for this year.
As early as January this year, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had announced in Kuala Trengganu that the government had allocated RM800 million to the Education Ministry for the maintenance of schools in the country for this year, and that lie expected all the applications for school maintenance works completed by the end of the year.
If there is fair and equal allocation of the RM800 million ‘special projects’ maintenance funds’ for primary schools for this year, the 1,296 Chinese primary schools should be allocated about RM125 million for this year alone
This RM800 million allocation for schools maintenance for the Ministry of Education was part of the RM1.8 billion special projects’ main-manse allocation approved by the Finance. Ministry for various Ministries, clearly in anticipation of a possible 1994 general elections, and the delay in its implementa¬tion must reflect the delay in the holding of general elections – which had originally been expected to be held as early as in April or August this year.
The question Dr. Fong Chan Onn should answer the Chinese community is whether there would be a fair and equal distribution of the RM800 million ‘special projects’ maintenance allocation to the 1,296 Chinese primary schools in the country.
On the basis that the ‘total Chinese primary school population constitute about 25 per cent of the total primary school enrolment in the country, the 1,296 Chinese primary schools should be entitled to at least 25 per cent of all ‘maintenance’ allocation devoted to primary schools from RM800 million ‘special projects’ allocation for this year.
As the primary school population constitute about 65 per cent of the total primary and secondary school population, it is fair to estimate that out of the RM800 million ‘special projects’ maintenance allocation for this year, over RM500 million should be spent on the primary schools in the country.
If the 1,296 Chinese primary schools get 25 per cent of this RM500 million allocation for ‘special projects’ Maintenance purposes, then the Chinese primary schools should be allocated at least RM125 million for school maintenance purposes’ for this year alone.
Can Dr. Fong Chan Onn reveal how much of this RM800 million ‘special projects’ maintenance funds this year would be allocated to the Chinese primary schools, whether the Chinese primary schools can expect RM115 million allocation or there¬abouts, giving state-by-state figures?