by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 7th December 1994:
DAP calls for a new Private Universities Act to permit not only English but all other mother-tongue languages to become medium of instruction in institutions of higher learning
The Education Minister Datuk 1rnar Dr. Sulaiman Daud said two days ago that the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) will be amended to allow English be used as a medium of instruction in institutions of higher learning.
He said that the government needed to allow English to be used as a medium of instruction in such institutions alongside the National Language as the restriction of allowing only Bahasa Malaysia to be used as a medium of instruction would be a disadvantage to the country.
While the amendment to the UUCA to allow English as a medium of instruction in local universities apart from Bahasa Malaysia is to be welcome, it is most disappointing that such an amendment is only confined to allowing English to he used as a medium of instruction in the tertiary level.
Such an amendment would only lead to a ‘minor liberalisation’ of the higher education policy of the Barisan Nasional government and not a ‘Full Liberalisation’ as demanded by the DAP and the people which would allow all mother-tongue languages in Malaysia to become media of instruction in local universities if there is a local demand.
Recently, the Gerakan President and Minister for Primary Industries Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik suggested that the Dong Jiao Zhong take initiatives to make Malaysia the centre of Chinese Education in South East Asia.
However, if the UUCA is to be amended to only allow English as the only other language apart from Bahasa Malaysia to be the medium of instruction for tertiary education in Malaysia, then it is clearly impossible for Malaysia to become the centre of Chinese Education in the region.
This is a test case for the Gerakan, as well as the MCA, as to whether their vision is only confined to ‘minor liberalisation’ which only allows English as the additional language to be used in the local universities or whether they are courageous and principled enough to stand up to fight for ‘Full Liberalisation’ which will allow all mother-tongue languages in Malaysia to become media of instruction in local colleges and universities.
In fact, if the UUCA is only to be amended as suggested by the Education Minister to allow English to be the additional language to be medium of instruction in local tertiary institutions, then it would mean that the proposed New Era College of Dong Jiao Zhong would not be allowed to operate in Malaysia.
This is why the DAP has said that ‘minor liberalisation’ of higher educational policy while welcome, is not enough, and that the time has come for the country to take the brave plunge into ‘Full Liberalisation’.
It is most ironical that the Barisan Nasional government is not prepared to embrace ‘Full Liberalisation’ of higher education policies although one UNNO Minister after another including the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Sri Anwar Ibrahim have acknowledged the great debt the nation owes to Chinese education for its contribution to nation building and national, development.
I hope that the Gerakan President Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the four MCA Ministers would, for the first time in their political career, prove their worth in the Cabinet, by Ensuring four things: –
(1) Cabinet approval in principle for the establishment of the New Era College proposed by Dong Jiao Zhong, so that all preparations for this new institution can go ahead fullsteam.
(2) Cabinet approval for Malaysia to become the centre of Chinese education in South East Asia, from primary, secondary and university levels.
(3) New Cabinet ‘policy to allow for English and all mother tongue languages in Malaysia to be used as media of instruction in tertiary institutions in the country.
(4) Presentation of the new Private Universities Act to incorporate the above three points to the current meeting of Parliament before it ends at the end the month.
The DAP National Charter for Mother-Tongue Education proclaimed in October this year has spelt out these principles and the Gerakan and the MCA Ministers will be doing the country a great service if they can diligently secure Cabinet support for the Charter.