DAP calls on Cabinet to recognize  the Unified Examination Certificate of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools as one of the academic qualifications for entry into national higher learning  institutions

Speech (3)
- 1999 DAP National Conference
Lim Kit Siang 

(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): I commend the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for visiting the Chong  Hwa independent Chinese School, Kuala Lumpur yesterday, his announcement that the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary Schools would be given permanent registration status and his very favourable remarks about Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.
Najib said independent Chinese schools in the country did not impede  nation-building efforts and had clearly instilled high sense of patriotism  among their students.

"The administration and the culture (of independent Chinese schools) are  directed at enhancing patriotism and unity among Malaysians," he said.

The Chinese community is very pleased with Najib’s remarks and recognition of the role of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools, but they cannot help wonder whether such statements are purely motivated by the objective to lure Chinese votes for the coming election, or whether it represents a major change of heart of the Barisan Nasional to Chinese education as a whole and Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in particular.

I remember when I raised the issue of permanent instead of annual registration for Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Parliament in the seventies and eighties, I was regarded as a Chinese  chauvinist and quite anti-national.

At that time, Chinese Independent Secondary Schools were regarded as hotbeds of anti-national and disloyal activities.

In my maiden speech in Parliament on February 23, 1971, I said:

When DAP MPs first entered Parliament after the 1969 general election, we consistently took up the cause of Chinese education it to be emplaced in  the mainstream of the national education system - and I paid a heavy price for it, painted as a Chinese chauvinist, anti-Malay and therefore an unacceptable Opposition leader!

I have no regrets as I was only doing what I had to do in the discharge of my duty as an elected representative of the people, not only  of one constituency, but throughout the country.

In the last few days, praises and favourable announcements about Chinese education have come thick and fast, with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself praising the commitment and discipline of Chinese primary schools as compared to national primary schools and the announcement that the government would build four new Chinese primary schools in Kuala Lumpur.

The nagging question is whether there is a fundamental change in the Barisan Nasional government’s policy towards Chinese education as to be prepared to emplace it in the mainstream of national education system, or these are just pre-election gimmicks to get the Chinese votes - like the grants given to Chinese Independent Secondary Schools on the eve of previous general elections.

The place of Chinese education in the national education system should not be electoral plaything once in five years.

If the government is serious and sincere in its recognition of the great contribution Chinese education, whether primary or secondary, have made to nation-building as well as to  national development, the time has come for  the government to make a major policy announcement on Chinese education.

For a start, the government should recognize the Unified  Examination Certificate of the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools  as one of the academic qualifications for entry into national higher learning institutions, especially as it has received such recognition from foreign universities of international repute, including that of Singapore!

For close to four decades, the 60 Chinese independent secondary schools have survived despite the lack of permanent registration.  While the grant of permanet registration to Chinese independent secondary schools is welcome, although it should have been given in the last four  decades, only government recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate of the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools can give real meaning in terms of government recognition of the role of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.

The building of new Chinese primary schools should not become an election bait for votes.  Is the Barisan Nasional government prepared to announce that it accepts the principle that Chinese primary schools would be built in areas whenever this is justified by the demands of parents?

In this connection, the Government should act on my proposal in Parliament in March 1982 that it should accord official recognition to Dong Jiao Zhong as the two organisations in the country qualified because of its composition and representation to authoritatively represent the interests of Chinese education in the country, and to accord both of these bodies official consultative status to the government on Chinese education, requiring the government to consult them before it takes any new step, measure or policy towards Chinese schools.


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