Call on MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers to stop "sleeping" in Cabinet and to wake up and rectify at its meeting tomorrow the fallacy that Chinese primary schools are the cause of racial polarisation as well as to give proper authorization on the term of reference and modus operandi of the second Mahathir education review committee
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
The speech by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at
the inaugural Penang UMNO Education Convention on Saturday is a most
disturbing one as it is based on the fallacy that the existence of Chinese
primary schools is the cause of racial polarization in the country.
The phenomenon of some 90 per cent of Chinese pupils attending Chinese primary schools did not develop only in the past few years or in the past decade, but went back for three decades in the early seventies when there was a sudden education policy change in the shutdown of all English-medium primary schools.
In fact by 1977, when Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was then
the Education Minister, 87 per cent of the Chinese students were already
attending the Chinese primary schools, as 478,849 out of a total of 550,545
Chinese primary pupils were in Chinese primary schools. These data are to be
found in the Mahathir Cabinet Education Review Committee Report which was
made public in November 1979, and there was a parliamentary debate on my
motion on the Mahathir report in June the next year.
Did the Chinese primary schools, with the enrolment of some 90 per cent of the Chinese pupils, produce chauvinistic, anti-national and unpatriotic Malaysians? This was never the case, for in the past 30 years, Chinese primary schools had produced Malaysians citizens who had contributed more than their share to the present economic and national development of the country, and Mahathir had said more than once inside and outside the country that he regards as his greatest achievement the peaceful development of the country contributed by all Malaysians, regardless of race or stream of education. In his recent visit to India, for instance, in answer to a question by an Indian journalist on his legacy, Mahathir said he regarded forging closer race relations in Malaysia's plural society as his most important achievement in his 21 years as Prime Minister.
It is not right to blame racial polarization on the existence of Chinese primary schools. This is because in the ensuing five-year secondary education, the overwhelming majority of Malaysian students, regardless of race, undergo the same schooling in the national secondary schools .
The 60 Chinese Independent Secondary School enroll only some 10
per cent of the Std. VI pupils - which means that some 90 per cent of the
Std. VI Chinese primary school students continue their studies in the
national secondary schools.
The MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers should stop "sleeping" in
Cabinet and wake up and rectify at its meeting tomorrow the fallacy that
Chinese primary schools are the cause of racial polarisation as well as to
give proper authorization on the term of reference and modus operandi of the
second Mahathir education review committee.
If the second Mahathir education review committee is to result
in a national education system which will overcome its historic shortcomings
and weaknesses and be a genuine instrument of national integration of the
diverse races in the country, then it must itself be a model of national
integration whether in composition, terms of reference or modus operandi -
and not just be a committee representing UMNO as is the case at present.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman