These memorable words were spoken by Tan Cheng Lock, a man who did not speak any Chinese himself, when addressing a meeting of representatives of Chinese School Committees and Chinese School Teachers' Associations on 9 November 1952. Speaking as president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), Tan went on in his speech to promise that
At this critical juncture in the history of the growth and development of Chinese education and culture in Malaya … its cause has the full support of the Malayan Chinese Association.
Tan's speech, and the presence of three other MCA leaders at the meeting, were the first clear indications that the MCA was prepared to take a consolidated stand with other Chinese organizations, in particular the United Chinese School Teachers' Association (UCSTA), and the United Chinese Schools' Committees' Association (UCSCA), on the issue of Chinese education. The MCA's decision was greeted by a chorus of approval from the Chinese press which described the 9 November meeting as an unprecedented manifestation of Chinese unity and from leading shetuan, or Chinese social organizations, which expressed their full support for the meeting's stand on Chinese education.