Reply to Dr. Tan Chee Khoon

The DAP Organising Secretary and Candidate for the Serdang State By-election, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:

It makes me sad to read Dr. Tan Chee Khoon’s press statement today accusing the DAP of distorting the Gerakan’s cultural stand.

At the challenge of Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas, Gerakan’s cultural expert, the DAP and the Gerakan had a 6½-hr debate at the MARA Auditorium on Nov. 24 under the chairmanship of Mr.D. R. Seenivasagam of PPP.

At the debate, Dr. Naguib Alatas spelt out the cultural policy of the Gerakan, which contained the following five fundamental points:

1. To write Malaysian literature, the language used can only be in Malay.
2. Indonesian writings, or any writing in Malay, regardless of the nationality or loyalty of the writer, must be considered as part of Malaysian literature.
3. No writings other than in the Malay language, whether English, Chinese or Tamil, even if the authors are Malaysians and the works are about Malaysian life, values, aspirations and hopes can be included or considered as Malaysian literature.
4. Uncompromising opposition to multi-lingualism, which Dr. Naguib said was the cause Malaysian national disunity.
5. Malaysian culture must be based on Malay.

During question time, Dr. Syed Naguib was asked whether some of the present Chinese language and English language writings can be considered as Malaysian literature, and he clearly said ‘No’.

Dr. Syed Naguib did say that Malaysian Chinese and Malaysian Indians can contribute to Malaysian literature, if they write their works in the Malay language. But if they write in Chinese or Tamil, they are not part of Malaysian literature.

Dr. Tan Chee Khoon now denies that Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas had made the above five points.

The whole proceeding is on tape. We can either replay the tape, or ask the Chairman of the debate, Mr. D. R. Seenivasagam, who was first chosen by Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas himself, to confirm whether Dr. Naguib had made the above five points, which spells out cultural hegemony, linguistic intolerance and narrow chauvinism.

This is why countless Malaysians, including myself, were shocked when Dr. Tan Chee Khoon and Dr. Lim Chong Eu endorsed a cultural policy which have no place for other languages and cultures apart from Malay languages and Malay culture.

Instead of repudiating Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas’ cultural policy, which they have unfortunately accepted as Gerakan’s cultural policy, Dr. Tan has chosen to try to confuse the public by accusing the DAP of having distorted it.

The cultural policy of the Gerakan as spelt out by Dr. Naguib Alatas is exactly the same as the Alliance’s cultural policy. The tactics used by Dr. Tan Chee Khoon is also exactly the same tactics of the Alliance.

The Alliance accused the DAP of being communal because we are opposed to its policy of ‘one nation, one language, one culture’ which rejects other languages and other cultures.

Dr. Tan has now echoed the Alliance and joined in the accusation that the DAP is anti-Malay and communal, because we are equally opposed to the Gerakan’s cultural policy, which is no different from the Alliance’s cultural policy, because it also rejects multi-lingualism and a multi-cultural diversity.

Dr. Tan Chee Khoon said the Gerakan supported Chinese and Tamil as media of instruction and examination.

Did Dr. Tan consult Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas and Dr. Syed Naguib Alatas before making this statement?

We all know that in January this year, before Gerakan was formed, Dr. Tan supported the Merdeka University. So did the UDP.

But in September this year, the Chairman of the Gerakan, Dr. Syed Hussein Alatas, said the Gerakan opposed the Merdeka University because it is “dominated by communal sentiment.”

And, Dr. Tan, what is the use if having Chinese and Tamil as media of instruction and examination, when these languages are not permitted to be used to express Malaysian aspirations, values, demands, hopes, and be considered as Malaysian literature? In other words, when these languages are regarded as foreign languages, which should be disused and eliminated – over the years?

We urge Dr. Tan Chee Khoon and Dr. Lim Chong Eu to seriously reconsider their defection from the cause of multi-racialism. If they are to remain true to themselves, and what they stood for in the past, then they must immediately and categorically repudiate Gerakan’s cultural policy, Dr. Syed Naguib’s cultural views, and endorse the DAP’s cultural democracy, where there is multi-lingualism, where any Malaysian can write in any language, and be considered as Malaysian literature.

Audited by: Joyce T. and Faiz M.