Keng Yaik’s revalation that the present new Education Bill 1995 would adversely affect the Unified Examination of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and boards of management of fully-aided Chinese primary schools are strong and powerful reasons why the new Education Bill should be made public before presented to Cabinet for final approval


by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, October 30, 1995:

Keng Yaik’s revelation that the present new Education Bill 1995 would adversely affect the Unified Examination of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and boards of management of fully-aided Chinese primary schools are strong and powerful reasons why the new Education Bill should be made public before presented to Cabinet for final approval

The revelation by the Gerakan President and the Minister for Primary Industries, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in Penang yesterday that the present new Education Bill 1995 would adversely affect the Unified Examination of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and boards of management of fully-aided Chinese primary schools are strong and powerful reasons why the new Education Bill should be made public before presented to Cabinet for final approval.

Keng Yaik revealed that the objective of the new Education Bill 1995 is to liberalise education in Malaysia to turn Malaysia into an international centre of educational excellence, but there are too many restrictions in the new Education Bill 1995 which are not in conformity with this objective and infact are contrary to it.

Keng Yaik said the draft of the Education Bill 1995 had been completed but it had not been presented to the Cabinet for Adoption, and promised to make clear in Cabinet Gerakan’s opposition to the many restrictions in the draft Bill.

I commend Keng Yaik for his frankness and courage in openly admitting that there are many provisions in the new Education Bill 1995 which are very restrictive and will adversely affect the position and future of Chinese education in Malaysia, such as the Unified Examination of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and the boards of management of fully-aided Chinese primary schools – which is a far cry from hat of MCA Ministers who have been trying to assure the Chinese community in general and Chinese education bodies in particular that “everything is fine” with the new Education Bill 1995.

However, what I cannot understand is why Keng Yaik could not get the “too many restrictive provisions” in the new Education Bill 1995 removed, as he himself said that he had been a member of the new Education Bill Drafting Committee for seven years.

This could only mean two things:

  • Firstly, that although Keng Yaik had been a member of the new Education Bill Drafting Committee for seven years, he had been quite careless and had not realized that the final draft of the Bill contained “too many restrictions” which are not only against the objective of liberalizing education in Malaysia to turn the country into an international centre of educational excellence, but inimical to the position and future of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and Chinese primary schools and this was why he had allowed the final fraft of the new Education Bill 1995 to get through; or

  • Secondly, he had always been aware of the “too many restrictions” in the new Education Bill 1995 and had opposed them in the Drafting Committee, but he could not get support whether from MCA or SUPP Ministers and his objections had been overruled – leaving the Cabinet as the last avenue for him to voice Gerakan’s opposition.

I do not know which one of these two scenarios had been the actual case, but either way, does not reflect well on Keng Yaik – although he had somewhat redeemed his shortcomings as a member of the Drafting Committee in allowing the “too many restrictions” to remain in the final draft of the Education Bill 1995 by openly promising to oppose then when the bill is brought to Cabinet.

However, Malaysians must wonder whether Keng Yaik could prevail in Cabinet to oppose the “too many restrictions” in the new Education Bill 1995 when he could not prevail at the Drafting Committee.

Furthermore, Malaysians must also wonder why the MCA Minister could so easily accept and support these “too many restrictions” in the new Education Bill 1995 which are inimical to the position and future of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and Chinese primary schools.

For this reason, what Malaysians must demand is that the Education Bill should be made public before it is presented to Cabinet for a final decision – so that the Cabinet would have the benefit of public reactions and feedback before it takes a decision on the new Education Bill.

The DAP will demand in Parliament that the new Education Bill 1995 should be made public before it is presented to Cabinet for a final approval so that the Cabinet would have the benefit of public reactions and feedback, and I hope all the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs, especially MCA, Gerakan and SUPP, would take a common stand on this issue with the DAP MPs.