Call on Sarawakians to make a New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan as a primary objective of the forthcoming Sarawak state general election

- Bintulu DAP Branch Chinese education-fund raising dinner
Lim Kit Siang

(Bintulu, Sunday): Last Wednesday, the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad told reporters in Parliament that the  remaining 71 children at SJK (C) Damansara's old premises were not considered pupils of the school.
He said he did not use the word "expel" but the  status of the pupils was that  "They are no longer pupils of SJK (C) Damansara.''
Musa need not use the word "expel" but the fact is that the 71 pupils had been expelled from the Damansara school by the Education Ministry even without a fair and proper inquiry.
When an employer tells his worker that he does not recognise him as his employee, stressing that he is not dismissing the worker, the law regards this as "constructive dismissal" and the workers has the right to recourse to the Industrial Court for reinstatement or fair compensation.
What Musa has announced is the "constructive expulsion" of the 71 pupils who want to continue to be students of the original Damansara School, which is most unfair and punitive.
Last month, the top MCA national leadership had claimed that the Cabinet meeting of Feb. 21, 2001 had made  a decision which represented _a historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education_.
Former MCA Cabinet Minister and MCA Director of Education Bureau, Dr. Ting Chew Peh said the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad  had at that Cabinet meeting directed the Education Ministry to implement as soon as possible the Barisan Nasional_s  1999 general election pledges to build new Chinese primary schools and relocate Chinese primary schools, and agreed to the building of more Chinese primary schools _according to need_.
If the Cabinet had made the "historic breakthrough for the future of Chinese education" in deciding that henceforth new Chinese primary schools would be built "according to need", then the Cabinet should start with the new formula of "One plus One"  instead of "One for One" by allowing for the retention and reopening of the original Damansara school in addition to the new Chinese primary school to be built within eight months in Tropicana, Petaling in Selangor.
If the Cabinet had decided on a "historic breakthrough for Chinese education", then there can be no justification for the expulsion of the 71 pupils who wanted to remain in the original Damansara Chinese primary school and these students should be immediately reinstated by the Education Ministry.
The three-month long controversy over the retention of the 70-year 35-classroom Damansara Chinese primary school seems insoluble with the MCA Ministers, led by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik  stubbornly refusing to heed the aspirations of the people when Malaysians, including Malays and other non-Chinese, have come forward to support the cause for the retention of the Damansara primary school.
Can the campaign and cause for the retention and re-opening of Damansara school succeed?
If there is a by-election in Selangor or in any other state in Peninsular Malaysia, the Damansara school would be resolved instantly to show that under special circumstances in Malaysia, even "iron trees can flower"!
The Damansara School controversy is not just about the retention and re-opening of the 75-year-old school as a community school for school-children in the vicinity, but about justice and fair play for mother-tongue education, making all Malaysians conscious that the time has come for rectify the decades of injustices and unfair Barisan Nasional treatment for mother-tongue education in the country.
The Damansara School controversy should be the catalyst for  a New Deal for Mother-tongue education in th Eighth Malaysia Plan which would be presented to Parliament next month for debate and adoption.
Although   there is no by-election in Peninsular Malaysia,  there is an impending state general election in Sarawak.
I call on Sarawakians to make A New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan a primary objective of the forthcoming Sarawak state general election, to ensure that Chinese mother-tongue education is given its rightful place in the mainstream of the national education policy and system the 21st century.

*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman