The poison of bumiputeraism

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to the Pudu DAP Branch Protem Committee on Tuesday, March 26, 1968 at 7.30 p.m.

In the last few years, the Alliance has created a new and dangerous source of friction, conflict and disunity for the people of Malaysia, which has set back the process of nation building by at least ten years.

I am referring to the Alliance’s division of Malaysians into ‘bumiputeras’ and ‘non-bumiputeras’, based not on loyalty, citizenship or birthplace, but purely on the colour of the skin.

A non-Malay citizen of Malaysia, born, bred and educated in this country, with unswerving loyalty to Malaysia, is ‘a non-bumiputera’. On the other hand, an immigrant from the Indonesian islands, whether he had been there for a week or a month, becomes a ‘bumiputera’?

Is this the way to build a nation of Malaysians? Is this the formula to instill a Malaysian consciousness and identity among the various racial groups in this country?

An intelligent and imaginative government, sincerely committed to the creation of a nation of Malaysians, would never create a source of disunity among the citizens. On the contrary, such a government would do all it can to tear down all barriers which divides the various races in this country, so that a common identity can emerge.

The problem in Malaysia is not between the bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras, but between the haves and the have-nots. The sensible and rational policy is to uplift the have-nots of Malaysia, regardless of whether if they are Malay, Chinese or Indian, and irrespective of whether they are from the urban or rural areas.

So long as the poison of bumiputeraism is allowed to corrode racial understanding and harmony in Malaysia, so long will the various races distrust, suspect and doubt each other. This will mean that the conditions are being created and multiplied for racial disunity and conflict, as had happened in Penang and North Malaya, to occur.

We therefore call on the Alliance, in the interest of Malaysian unity, to abandon its classification of Malaysians into ‘bumiputeras’ and ‘non-bumiputeras’. Stop encouraging Malaysians to think as Malays, Chinese, Indians, bumiputeras, non-bumiputeras. They must all begin to think and act as Malaysians. If this process has been started eleven years ago, there would have been no need for the disgraceful National Anthem Act or the MCA-sponsored Loyalty Weeks or even the Solidarity Weeks.

Malaysia can only succeed as a multi-racial experiment. Any attempt to impose racial supremacy will break this country.

One of the resolutions passed at the MCA General Assembly last Sunday was to appeal to the government to disprove that there was supremacy or political hegemony of one race over the others.

There are two interesting points about this resolution.

Firstly, this resolution was passed without a debate. Why was there no debate on such an important issue? Is it because a debate would have brought forth “undesirable” views from the floor?

Secondly, the MCA seemed to have forgotten that it is a partner of the ruling party and government, and cannot disassociate itself from Alliance policies and actions.

Instead of appealing to the government to disprove that there was supremacy or political hegemony of one race over the others, it should have affirmed that the MCA subscribed to the policy of racial equality, and opposed any policy which allowed the supremacy or political hegemony of one race over the others. Why was this not done?

That the MCA had to appeal to the Alliance government confirmed that the MCA is not a full partner in the Alliance set-up. This we all know, despite MCA protests and denials.

We call on all MCA members and leaders, before it is too late, to stand up and be counted as Malaysians, and not as racialists, opportunists, self-seekers, soldiers of fortune and political adventurers. If they can begin to think of nation before self, service before greed, then they still have a positive role to play in building a peaceful, harmonious and prosperous Malaysian society. Otherwise, they are nation-destroyers and not nation-makers.

Issued by Democratic Action Party (Hq)
150, Petaling Garden,

Audited by: Ernest W. & Kieran L. N.