Opposition Politics in Malaysia

Talk by DAP organising secretary Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to the Penang DAP branch at 52, Magazine Road, on Monday 1st July 1968 at 8 p.m.

We can classify opposition politicians under three categories:

(1) the “grasshopper” politicians;

(2) the “election” politicians; and

(3) the “dedicated” politicians.

“Grasshopper” politicians are those who hop from party to party, or who spend major part of their living presiding over the death of one party and formation of another. To “grasshopper” politicians, ideologies, convictions and basic principles are secondary. The glory, name and fame of the moment are too tempting to miss.

“Election” politicians are those who are attracted to politics by the glitter of Parliamentary or State Assembly seats. When the election approaches, such politicians come to life. Veteran “election” politicians live in five-year political cycles, whose political activity are only noticeable during and just before general elections.

“Dedicated” politicians are in politics because they have a crusade and mission to fulfill. To them, politics is the most honourable public calling to improve society and the people’s life, because politics is the most powerful instrument to abolish poverty, exploitation, disease, illiteracy and ignorance.

One of the reasons why opposition politics have failed to make a significant mark in the Malaysian scene in the first ten years of Merdeka is because Malaysia had too many “grasshopper” and “election” politicians, and too few “dedicated” men of politics.

What Malaysia urgently needs today is not one, or two or even three colourful political personalities, because they do not constitute a political movement. What Malaysia lacks is a national political movement which can rally, unite and galvanise Malaysians to throw out racialism, corruption, injustice and exploitation.

The task of an opposition party is not merely to oppose the ruling party, but even more important, to propose an alternative policy.

What is the basic malady of Malaysia? It is the problem of nation building, of creating a nation of Malaysians, and not Malays, Chinese and Indians.

That the Alliance government had to pass a law ten years after Merdeka to compel respect to the National Anthem is proof that we have still to build a nation of Malaysians.

The recent communist killings at the Thai-Malaysian border is grim warning that unless we succeed in instilling Malaysian consciousness among Malaysians at a faster rate than we have been able to do, Malaysia will not able to repel the communist challenge or resist any other external or even internal threat to Malaysian nation.

The Democratic Action Party opposes the Alliance policy which will break up, and not build, a nation.

The only way to build a Malaysian nation, as the DAP proposes, is through the acceptance and practice of the twin principles of cultural and socialist democracy.

Cultural democracy: This is essential in a multi–cultural and multi–lingual society, because otherwise there will be races which will be alienated from the nation if they feel that their cultures and languages are not given free and equal place in the country. Multi-lingualism is the cornerstone of multi–racialism.

Socialist democracy: Without economic equality, there can be no true democracy. A nation which is economically half slave and half free cannot withstand external pressures and challenges, particularly when economic imbalance seem to coincide along racial lines.

If a democratic socialist government had been in power since Merdeka, the have nots of Malaysia, particularly the Malay peasants and fishermen, would have gone a long way to rid themselves of poverty, exploitation, illiteracy and disease.

The Democratic Action Party is a party for the new generation of Malaysians, who want to mould their own future and destiny.

No other national political party shares the same goal as the DAP for cultural and socialist democracy.

No other national political party also shares the stamina of the DAP to continue the political fight for, if need be, the next fifteen and twenty years.

The DAP will remain in the Malaysian political scene so long as Malaysia exists, and so long as there are Malaysians who have the courage to stand up and fight for their convictions and ideals.

Audited on 2021-03-19.