DAP calls for a constitutional amendment to require a comprehensive review of the education system every ten years to ensure it achieves the national objectives of an united, democratic, liberal and dynamic Malaysia

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday)DAP welcomes the proposal by the former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam that the education system be reviewed every 10 to 15 years to determine  its effectiveness in uniting the people and contributing towards the country’s development. 

He said the government now faced challenges in ensuring the effectiveness of education in not only preserving national unity, but also in launching Malaysia in the challenging global village. 

Musa Hitam’s proposal is most apt in the run up in two days’ time to the  45th National Day celebrations  which  though has a repeat of last year’s National Day theme of “Keranamu Malaysia” to emphasise national unity and oneness is in danger of being another divisive National Day in view of the flurry of allegations of “anti-national”, “disloyalty” and even “traitors” coupled with threats of the use of Internal Security Act because of  legitimate dissent over educational issues.  

This is in fact the second time in 16 months that the former Education Minister (1978-1981) and the  first Deputy Prime Minister in Malaysia who had not continued to  become Prime Minister who had proposed a comprehensive review of the national education system.

In April 2001, when delivering the inaugural Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial lecture in Penang, Musa  Hitam spoke of the failure of the education system in its main objective of achieving national unity and proposed a National Commission of Enquiry with the specific objective to review the shortcomings of the education system and with a mandate to make recommendations. 

The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad responded to Musa Hitam’s proposal with stony silence and the sorry state of education deteriorated in the interim. 

Three days ago,  Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik made a similar call when launching a forum on Education for the K-economy organized by the Socio-Economic Development and Research Institute (Sedar), proposing the setting up of a National Education Commission to review educational policies “using a non-political approach”. 

DAP welcomes Keng Yaik’s proposal to check  the rot in the  national education system, as the DAP had been calling  for a national commission to review the education system scores of times both inside and outside Parliament in the past two decades. 

What must befuddle Malaysians is why Keng Yaik has  only now  woken up to the realization that many things are very wrong with the national education system, as he  had been a senior Cabinet Minister in the past two decades and he should have kept a watchful eye on  the education system and put the proposal of a national commission to review the education policies to Cabinet instead of seeking publicity by just speaking about it outside. 

Be that as it may, the two similar calls in three days by Musa Hitam  and Keng Yaik  for a review of the national education system have highlighted the utter irrelevance of the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 produced by the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad and which was  publicly unveiled last October  – which made history by being a 10-year blueprint which became obsolete in less than 12 months of its first public announcement! 

The  Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 of Musa Mohmad suffers from six  fundamental  failings - not transparent, unrepresentative, undemocratic, unprofessional, fails to reflect the plural characteristics of Malaysian society and sadly lacking in vision. 

This may be the reason why the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) has set up a special think-tank on the education system, named the National Brains Trust,  chaired by Tan Sri Dr. Nordin Sopiee and   comprising 68 distinguished members from the education industry, which recently proposed to the government 13 “strategic  intervention points” to  have a “catalytic effect” in changing the present education system to one which could create a world-class workforce.

There would be no need for such a  National Brains Trust and its  proposal of 13-point  “strategic intervention points” if Musa Mohamad’s 10-year Education Development Blueprint had anticipated them to deliver  “quality education of world standard” in the next ten years!

In his speech yesterday, Musa Hitam likened the proposed review of the national education system to the regular review exercise by the Election Commission for the redelineation of electoral constituencies once every 8 to 10 years. 

The periodic redelineation of electoral constituencies is provided by the Malaysian Constitution, and in similar fashion, DAP calls for a constitutional amendment to require a comprehensive review of the education system every ten years to ensure it achieves the national objectives of an united, democratic, liberal and dynamic Malaysia.  

I understand that  a Constitution Amendment Bill will be presented at the forthcoming  budget meeting of Parliament from 9th September to 12th November 2002, and if so, MPs whether from government or opposition should ensure that there should be a constitutional amendment to provide for a national review of the education system by independent, knowledgeable and eminent Malaysians once in every ten years to build an united, democratic, liberal and dynamic nation.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman