DAP hopes that government recognition of the contribution of Chinese primary schools and Chinese Independent Secondary Schools to nation-building and national development is not because of the coming general election, but represents a major change of nation-building philosophy accepting the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural basis of Malaysian nationhood.
Those who stood up over the decades for Chinese education in Malaysia were not anti-national, unpatriotic, stooges or pawns of the Chinese government whether in Beijing or Taiwan, but 100 per cent Malaysian patriots who believed that in a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation like Malaysia, nation-building must be by way of integration and not assimilation and that mother-tongue education whether Chinese or Indian must be defended and promoted in Malaysia, solely because they have become Malaysian languages and part of the rich heritage of all Malaysians.
In the past, Malaysian citizens who advocated that Chinese education should be recognized as an integral part of the Malaysian education system had been regarded as anti-national and disloyal, and it is time to rectify this unfortunate part of our history.
The late Lim Lian Geok is one such example. As leader of the Chinese education movement, he had always owed his loyalty to Malaya and later Malaysia and never had a second home in another country. This was why when he was deprived of his Malayan citizenship because of his leadership of the Chinese education movement in the early 1960s, he never left the country for China and stayed in Malaysia for more than two decades until his final breath in 1985. This is the best testimony that when Lim Lian Geok stood up for Chinese education in Malaysia, he was doing it for the greater good of the people in this country and not for the interests of any foreign country or government.
Malaysia is entering the new millennium which should mark a new era where Malaysians regardless of race should be able to come together to forge a common national destiny rather than be divided into their separate ethnic, linguistic, religious and cultural groups.
It would mark a great beginning for this new nation-building process in Malaysia for the country and the government to recognize that although Lim Lian Geok did not agree with the ruling parties on the issue of Chinese education, he was never anti-national or unpatriotic, and to restore his citizenship posthumously.
I hope the Cabinet could give this proposal serious consideration.