Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the inaugural Penang ‘Tanjong 3′ Marathon Thousand-People Dinner held at Penang Chinese Town Hall on Monday, 3rd October 1994 at 8 pm
DAP invites Gerakan and MCA to join the DAP in the struggle for ‘Full Liberalisation’ of nation-building policies and to achieve the Ten Democratisations to give every Malaysian an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
This morning, in conjunction with tonight’s inaugural Ten-Night Penang ‘Tanjong 3′ Marathon Thousand-People Dinners, the DAP released its first Nation-Building Policies for Malaysia on ‘Full Liberalisation’ and the Ten-Point Democratisation Programme which will be the basis of the DAP elections manifesto in the next general elections.
I am not ‘surprised that the Gerakan and MCA have publicly opposed, the DAP’s call for ‘Full Liberalisation’ just as they had nothing to do with the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years.
Malaysians will remember that immediately after the 1990 general elections, when the Gerakan and MCA candidates could only get some 20 per cent of Chinese electoral support, UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders publicly blamed the Malaysian Chinese for not supporting Gerakan and MCA candidates.
This showed that no Gerakan or MCA Minister or leader could or dared explain to the UMNO leadership the reason for the decisive repudiation of the Gerakan and MCA by the Chinese electorate in the 1990 general elections.
Speaking at the UMNO Youth General Assembly held after the 1990 general elections, the then UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, openly accused the Chinese for being ‘ungrateful’ in not supporting the Barisan Nasional in the general elections. He openly asked what was it that the Chinese in Malaysia wanted!
The MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik publicly gave his ‘blessings’ for such UMNO attacks by declaring that the Malaysian Chinese- should be contented because the Chinese in Malaysia have more political, economic, educational and religious rights and freedoms than the Chinese in any other country.
This meant that as far as the MCA and Gerakan leaders were concerned, the Chinese in Malaysia had no reason to be asking for anything more in the country – echoing Najib’s accusation that the Chinese in Malaysia were ‘ungrateful’ for not supporting the Barisan Nasional.
The answer of the MCA and Gerakan leadership to the UMNO question after the 1990 general elections: “What do the Chinese in Malaysia want?” is “The Chinese in Malaysia are ungrateful., as they should want nothing more and be contented as they have more political, economic, educational and religious rights than the Chinese in any other country”.
In the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in certain economic and educational fields in the past three years could have nothing to do with the Gerakan and MCA, as Gerakan and MCA Ministers’ and leaders saw no reason why the Chinese hinese in Malaysia should be unhappy, discontented or aggrieved under the Barisan Nasional government.
If Mahathir had listened to Gerakan and MCA leaders that the Chinese in Malaysia should be contented, then there would have been no ‘Little Liberalisation’ in the past three years
It was fortunate that the DAP took the first opportunity when Parliament met after the 1990 general elections to answer the UMNO question as to what the Chinese in Malaysia want in the country and disabused the UMNO leadership that the Chinese in Malaysia have no reason to be unhappy or to ask for more.
In my Speech in Parliament in December 1990, I criticised Najib for not understanding the meaning of democracy, for the question of ‘gratitude’ dos not arise when voters exercise their constitutional right of the vote. If voters can be punished or discriminated against because they exercised their constitutional right to vote, then such a constitutional right or such a democracy do not have meaning.
I also expressed my sadness that after 33 years of Merdeka, top UMNO leaders should be publicly asking what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted, and that no Chinese Minister in Cabinet could give an answer!
‘I then proceeded to answer the UMNO question, as well as teaching MCA and Gerakan leaders how to answer the UMNO ques¬tion. I said what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted are very simple: all they wanted are all the rights a Malaysian citizen is entitled – equality, justice, freedom and fair play, nothing more and nothing less!
If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had listened to MCA and Gerakan leaders that “the Chinese in Malaysia should be contented because they have more political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights than the Chinese in any other country”, then there would be no ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in certain economic and educational fields in the past three years.
It was precisely because the DAP stood up in’ Parlia¬ment to tell the Barisan Nasional Government loud and clear that what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted was their full citizens rights, that Mahathir realised that if the Barisan Nasional was to compete with DAP to win the hearts and minds of the people, he had to initiate ‘Minor Liberalisation’ measures.
The Ling Liong Siks and the Lim Kong Yaiks cannot claim any credit for the ‘Minor Liberalisation’, for they do not see any need for any liberalisation at all for the Chinese in Malaysia to be contented.
The credit for the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years must undoubtedly go to the people who for the past 28 years had solidly stood by the DAP in giving full support for our struggle for a more just and equal Malaysia.
The ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years are therefore the ‘tiny fruits’ of the struggle and sacrifices of the people and the DAP of the past 28 years.
one political paradox in Malaysia – when Gerakan and MCA wins more parliamentary seats, the greater the threat to the fundamental rights of the Malaysian Chinese
If the people had not continued to support the DAP in the 1990 general elections, and decisively repudiated the MCA and Gerakan candidates, there would have been no ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in the past three years, as the UMNO leadership would have believed MCA and Gerakan leaders that the Chinese in Malaysia were very contented and there was no need for any ‘Liberalisa tion’ of government policies and measures.
This is one of the paradoxes of the Malaysian politi¬cal situation – the more Parliamentary seats the Gerakan and MCA win in the general elections, the greater the threat to the fundamental rights of the Malaysian Chinese whom they claim to represent.
The 1982 general elections furnished a classic example of this political paradox in Malaysia. Both the Gerakan and MCA achieved great political breakthroughs in the 1982 general elections where the DAP suffered its worst electoral debacle – re¬duced to six parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia.
A great political breakthrough for the Gerakan and MCA in winning their most number of Parliamentary seats should have opened up an era of greater justice, equality and freedom for the Malaysian Chinese – but the opposite happened.
Starting with the proclamation of a ‘One-Language, One Culture’ Policy in Parliament immediately after the 1982 general elections, there were systematic attempts to Undermine the very multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious basis of the Malaysian society.
It was during this period that the attempt was made by the Malacca State Government to ‘demolish’ Bukit China and what is even most shocking is that this attempted desecration of the the most ancient Chinese cemetry hill in Malaysia – which stands as a historic monument of the 500-year contribution of the Chi¬nese through their blood, sweat and tears to help make the Malaysia of today – should get the support or encouragement of the MCA and the Gerakan leaders.
It was also during this period that Ling Liong Sik, who was then Deputy Minister, was publicly humiliated in Ipoh when Municipal enforcement officers tore down in his presence a welcome banner for him at some opening function, on the ground that it was written in Chinese characters.
It was also during this period when Chinese, primary schools faced endless pressures through legal and administrative measures to alter their character.
It next parliamentary general elections is a repetition of 1982 general elections, then the people stand to lose the ‘tiny fruits’ including the ‘Minor- Liberalisation’ of the last three year
A thick book could be written of the ‘dark four years’ from 1982 after the Gerakan and MCA scored their greatest parliamentary victories in the 1982 general elections, but the examples I have mentioned should suffice.
Gerakan and MCA leaders believe that the next general elections will be another ’1982′ for them, where they could expect to achieve great victories in the parliamentary general elections.
Most political observers expect the Barisan Nasional to do well and the Opposition to do badly in the next parliamen – tary general elections.
If the next general elections becomes another ’1982′, then the people stand to lose not only whatever ‘tiny fruits’ they had achieved to date, including: the ‘Little Liberalisation’ of the past three years, but an even worse scenario after e 1982 general elections.
I do not know what would be the equivalent of the attempt to ‘ demolish’ Bukit China after the next general elections, if there is a repetition of the 1982 general election results – but undoubtedly, it would be much more difficult to defend the legitimate rights and aspirations of all Malaysians.
The best guarantee for the people that their rights would be respected by the government is not only to maintain DAP’s parliamentary represenation, but better still, to ensure the DAP get more MPs and more Assemblymen- including capturing the Penang State Government.
This is why the DAP wants the Battle of Tanjong 3 to -turn Penang into the ‘engine-head’ of the great ‘Full Liberalisation’ movement throughout Malaysia – as Penang has always led in Malaysia in political and national awakening.
The people should not, and would not oppose the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years, but they should make it very clear to Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional that what they want is not ‘Minor Liberalisation’ but ‘Full Liberalisation’.
I call on the Gerakan and MCA leaderships to rise above their petty party and personal interests and for a change, to put the interests of the people and country above all other considerations.
If the Gerakan and MCA leaderships are prepared to this, theta they will not oppose the DAP’s call for ‘Full Liberalisation’ and continue to be stumbling-blocks to the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia.
The DAP officially invites the Gerakan and the MCA to join the DAP to strive for ‘Full Liberalisation’ of nation-building policies and to achieve the Ten Democratisation Programme to give every Malaysian an equal pace under the Malaysian sun.
The DAP is prepared to enter into a discussion, dialogue or debate with the Gerakan and MCA leaders on the DAP’s Nation-Building Policies on Full Liberalisation and the Ten-Point Democratisation Programme, and we hereby issue a standing invitation to such a discussion, dialogue or debate with the Gerakan and MCA leaders any place andanytime.
I hope the Gerakan and MCA leaders would have the courage to accept this DAP is invitation and challenge to discuss and debate the DAP’s nation-building policies, as up to now, they have failed to produce any nation-building policies of their own apart from giving, unthinking support to all the policy measures decided by UMNO ‘Big Brother’.