Parliament should adopt Musa Hitamís proposal for a Royal Commission of
Inquiry into Education by way of an amending motion in the Eighth
Malaysia Plan debate, which should be extended by at least two days
(Penang, Monday): Former Deputy
Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam proposed on Saturday that a
National Commission of Enquiry be set up with the specific objective of
studying the education scene to review shortcomings in the
system and with a mandate to make recommendations.
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
Speaking at the inaugural Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial
lecture in Penang on "Education and Excellence: Challenges of the
21st Century'', Musa noted that 30 years after the National Economic Policy
was launched, the country "suddenly woke up just a couple of weeks ago
to be told by no less than the Prime Minister himself that the education
system had failed in its main objective of achieving national unity.''
Musa suggested that the commission should be given six months or even
a year to carry out its assignments and that the public, including political
parties, NGOs, associations, societies representing any interest,
as well as individuals be invited to submit their views and suggestions.
The commission should allow submissions to be made either in writing
via memoranda or orally, and should preferably be conducted in open
I welcome this proposal by Musa as I had myself more than once
called for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to address
the twin educational crisis in the country: to achieve the overriding objective
of national unity and to prepare the country for the challenges of the
new era of information technology.
It is most regrettable that in the Eighth Malaysia Plan debate in Parliament
last week, there was no in-depth debate on the twin educational crisis
facing the country.
Parliament should adopt Musa Hitamís proposal for a Royal Commission
of Inquiry into Education by way of an amending motion in the
debate on the Eighth Malaysia Plan, which should be extended by at least
two more days not only to allow more MPs to speak on the Eighth Malaysia
Plan but to permit a focussed debate on the twin educational
crisis facing the country.
Among the issues which should be studied by the Commission are:
Relationship between the education system and national unity - the reason
for the racial polarisation as evident in the universities after 30 years
of National Education Policy;
Cultural factors of education - the recent speech by the Prime Minister
on the cultural differences between the Malays and the Chinese on education,
that the Chinese place high priority on the acquisition of knowledge while
Malay culture does not value knowledge as much - and how such problems
could be overcome;
The promotion of mother-tongue education and cultural diversity in
the national education system in reflection of Malaysiaís multi-racial,
multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious national characteristics;
The development of the culture of lifelong learning to establish a knowledge
After the presentation of the Eighth Malaysia Plan by the Prime Minister
in Parliament last Monday, a New Economy consultant, V. Sivapalan wrote
in the New Straits Times (25.4.2001) that if Malaysia is to successfully
move to an knowledge-based (K) economy, the country needs a comprehensive
education policy with computer literacy for all students from a very young
age and suggesting that computer education be a compulsory examinable
subject like Maths and Science from year One.
Five years ago, in December 1995, I had proposed in Parliament an amendment
to the 1995 Education Bill to make computer literacy a core subject for
all primary and secondary school curriculum but this was rejected by the
short-sighted Education Minister and government and five precious years
to position the country in the very forefront of IT development had
been squandered away.
This issue should rate top priority consideration by the
Education Inquiry Commission.
Another subject which should be fully considered by the Commission
is the New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education.
The DAP has made six proposals for the New Deal for Chinese Mother-Tongue
Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), namely:
Build 250 new Chinese primary schools, or 50 new schools a year, under
the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
RM1 billion special allocation for the 60 Chinese Independent Secondary
Schools and the 1,200 Chinese primary schools to be paid out
in the next five years in recognition of their past contribution
Allow building of new or re-establishment of previous Chinese Independent
Government recognition of Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC)
of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.
Make Pupilís Own Language (POL) a compulsory subject for all pupils
in national primary and secondary schools.
fair allocation of develoment expenditures to different streams of primary
schools based on student enrolment. At present, the distribution
of total primary school enrolment are 75% in national primary
schools, 21% in Chinese primary schools and 3.6% in Tamil primary
schools. As the total development allocation for primary schools
for the next five years under the Eighth Malaysia Plan is RM2.75
billion, an equitable distribution of the allocation would mean national
primary schools would get RM2.1 billion or 75%, Chinese primary schools
RM577 million or 21% and Tamil primary schools RM99 million or 3.6%.
There should be a national consensus for the New Deal for Mother-Tongue
Education in the 21st century to ensure that mother-tongue education not
only contributes to the nation-building process but could fully tap into
the nationís wealth of multicultural diversity and heritage in the IT age.
*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman