Note related to the DAP-Gerakan cultural debate

Note related to the DAP-Gerakan Cultural Debate, filed on 21st Nov 1968:

It is today learnt from a DAP source that DAP leaders had at first certain reservations about the DAP-Gerakan cultural debate, because of its likely adverse effect on an opposition electoral understanding for the general elections next year.

The source said that the DAP realised that the Malaysian public wanted the opposition parties to reach an electoral understanding so as not to benefit the Alliance through split opposition votes arising from three-cornered or more-cornered fights.

This was why the DAP negotiated and reached an electoral agreement with the People’s Progressive Party early this year.

The source said that there was no possibility of a merger between the DAP and the Gerakan because they had divergent cultural policies.

The DAP was prepared to have electoral understanding with the Gerakan, but over the months, the Gerakan had shown no interest. The first move made by Mr D. R. Seenivasagam of PPP in May this year for electoral talks was rejected by the Gerakan.

The source disclosed that in the last few days, the Gerakan had demanded as a pre-condition for any electoral talk that Gerakan should have the Bungsar Parliamentary constituency, which is currently held by the DAP.

The source said that this pre-condition is absolutely unacceptable to the DAP. With this as a Gerakan pre-condition, there is no possibility for electoral talks with the Gerakan. It seemed unavoidable therefore that there will be three-cornered and more-cornered fights in the next general elections. This will be a great pity.

The source said that in view of the Gerakan’s unreasonable stand, DAP leaders have decided that the cultural debate between the two parties will be useful in letting the Malaysian public know the differences in the cultural policies of the two parties.

This is one reason why although the DAP was not happy with the procedure of the debate, which allows each side two and a half hours, which is too excessively long, and another half an hour for Syed Naguib to wind up, the DAP has decided to go through with the debate.