Cabinet should hold a special meeting to consider and adopt the six affirmations and 12 demands of the Dong Jiao Zong’s 1999 Declaration of Mother Tongue Education

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when declaring open the  Bandar Baru Darulaman  School in Jitrah, Kedah said Malay parents  believe that  Chinese and Christian schools are  more serious about their educational tasks than government schools  and  that their their teachers are more committed and this is  why many  Malay children are being sent to Chinese and Christian mission schools.

Mahathir said Malay students are  not serious about their  studies and that teachers too are not dedicated to their profession, with some even carrying out a "hate campaign" against certain leaders and the government.

He observed that Malay  students are distracted easily from studies by matters such as "politics and demonstrations".

He said many of the calls to allow students to be involved in politics came from Malays whose performance at the universities was poor compared to that of their non-Malay peers.

Mahathir was clearly being unfair to Malay teachers and students in blaming the problems and defects  of the educational system on  "politics and demonstrations" which, if true, only  started about a year ago following  the outrageously unfair manner in which Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister on Sept. 2 last year, his brutal assault in the very inner sanctum of the police high command in Bukit Aman on the night of his arrest on Sept. 20 last year and his persecution,  trial, conviction, sentence and imprisonment.

Mahathir said that  some Malays now preferred to send  their children to Chinese-medium schools instead not so that their  children could "pick up the Chinese language, but the  perception that students and teachers are more committed in Chinese schools".

Mahathir said realise that the 60,000 Malay students  presently enrolled in  the Chinese primary  schools did not come about only in the past one year, after Anwar’s sacking resulting in the involvement of Malay teachers and students in "politics and demonstrations", but it was a trend which had started for some ten years.

Mahathir should not find the easy way out by putting the blame for the weaknesses and faults of the national education system and the national schools on "politics and demonstrations" in the past one year, when these had existed in the past few decades.

The Barisan Nasional government, and in particular the Education Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak must bear responsibility for the sad plight of affairs in the national education system where Malay parents have no confidence in the quality of education provided at the national schools and prefer to send their children to Chinese primary schools although they do not have the facilities provided in national schools.

As Mahathir is now belatedly acknowledging the great contribution made by the Chinese primary schools not only in national education but also in national development, the time has come for the Barisan Nasional government to end its discriminatory policy towards Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and to treat them at par with  the national primary schools.

In this connection, I call on the Cabinet to hold a special meeting to consider  and adopt the six affirmations and twelve demands of the  Dong Jiao Zong’s 1999 Declaration on Mother Tongue Education,  particularly calling on  the Education Minister to:


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong