Debate with Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas

Statement by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a Press Conference at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, November 7, 1968 at 2 p.m.

Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas now seems to suggest the although he is a national Gerakan leader, what he had said about Malaysian culture at the University of Malaya from in July this year were his personal views, and not that of the Gerakan.

Yet, in another breath, he said that some of his ideas form part of the Gerakan’s cultural policy.

I am not aware of any Gerakan cultural policy, apart from the one expounded by Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas, which is a brazen attempt to Indonesianise Malaysian culture.

It will be quite a farce if Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas should come to the debate with me to repudiate, on behalf of Gerakan, what he had personally expounded on the question of Malaysian culture.

Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas, despite his great learning and wisdom, seemed to have a very short memory. He now claims that he did not challenge me alone, but the entire DAP leadership.

When he spoke at the Gerakan public rally in Seremban on October 26, he issued a challenge to me personally to a debate with him. The 500-odd people who turned up for the Gerakan rally can testify to this. So can the Tamil Nesan of October 30, which was the only paper to report Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas’ challenge.

Probably, Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas did not expect his challenge to be reported, or my ready acceptance. Now that I have accepted his challenge, the great scholar wants the backing of other Gerakan leaders. To cover up this need, Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas is asking for other DAP leaders to take part.

I see no necessity for extra speakers in the debate, unless Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas is not capable or qualified to speak on the Gerakan’s cultural policy. If Dr. Syed NAGUIB is not qualified to speak on behalf of the Gerakan, then he should not have issued the challenge in the first place.

But if Dr. Naguib Alatas really need the assistance of other Gerakan leaders, whether Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, Dr. Tan Chee Khoon or Mr. V. David, to help him in the debate, I have already stated that I have no objection. I will take on all of them.

Dr. Syed Naguib wants to a have a five-hour debate beginning at 10 a.m. I am not, nor I am sure, are the general public, prepared to forgo lunch just to allow Dr. Syed Naguib to indulge in his endless monologues.

We know there are people who are incorrigibly talkative, and who can talk for hours, without saying a single thing.

I therefore propose that we have a question time for the audience to ask questions, so that no speaker can get away with long monologues meaning absolutely nothing.

To avoid any misunderstanding, I will outline the following procedure for the debate:

1) Opening Statement by Dr. Naguib Alatas for 45 minutes
2) Opening Statement by me for 45 minutes.
3) One hour of question time.
4) Winding up by Dr. Naguib Alatas, or any other Gerakan leader, for 30 minutes.
5) Winding up by me for 30 minutes.

This will bring the debate up to 1.30 p.m. already.

I have just discovered that the seating capacity of the MARA Auditorium is less than 500 people.

I am sure that Dr Syed Naguib Alatas, with his great store of learning and wisdom, would want a bigger crowd to await and hear his words of wisdom and culture. The place that best recommends itself is the Chinese Assemble Hall, which has a capacity for at least 1,500.

Unless there are special reasons, I am sure Dr Syed Naguib Alatas will not object to a bigger place for him to show the country his ability and capacity. I have made inquiries, and found that the Chinese Assembly Hall will be available on November 24.

I must confess that I am shocked to read of reports of Dr Syed Naguib Alatas’ press conference yesterday, which was full of abuse and even unprintable words. I wonder whether and illiterate could be as vulgar and offensive as the learned doctor.

I have yet to come across a more conceited, arrogant and uncultured man. It makes me wonder whether there is nothing wrong with an university education which produces such foul-speaking academicians. It shocks me to the core to think of the number of Malaysians who are going through his class.

Dr Syed Naguib Alatas said I know nothing about culture. I did not know that I must have a doctorate in Islamic studies to know something about culture. According to Dr Syed Naguib Alatas, only he and one or two others in the Gerakan know anything about culture, while the general Malaysian population are all fools.

If Dr Syed Naguib Alatas sincerely wants to have a debate with me on the Gerakan’s cultural policy, and not a contest at vituperation and abuse-exchanges, then I urge him to behave with some decorum, manners, and culture.

(Lim Kit Siang)

Organising Secretary

Issued by: DAP Information Office,

77, Jalan 20/9,

Paramount Garden,

PETALING JAYA    Tel: 563377

Audited on 2021-03-03