Call to Malaysianise the armed forces

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a general meeting of members and supporters at the Sentul DAP Branch, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday, January 29, 1969 at 8 p.m.

In the last week, Mirages and Lightnings have dominated the newspaper headlines.

But Malaysia can have all the Mirages and Lightnings in the world, and yet not survive either an internal revolt or an external attack, if the people of Malaysia do not have the will, capacity and resolution to unite, defend and even die for this nation of ours.

Some time ago, the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, supported by his Deputy and Defence Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, declared that the government would not resist invasion or aggression by a nation which is ten times the size of Malaysia – which includes china, India and Indonesia.

Without any will and resolution to defend and die for the nation, all the Mirages and Lightnings, and all the defence hardwares which the Alliance will buy will be useless, apart from their hollow prestige value.

Such a defence philosophy of submission is also unlikely to encourage other countries to enter into a regional collective defence pact for the defence and security of this region, including Malaysia.

It is clear that the Alliance government and leaders have failed to make a comprehensive and thorough study of our defence problems, needs challenges and future.

They have not even considered the fundamental questions concerning defence.

The first question which must be considered by our defence planners and the nation is: What is it that we are to defend?

If the object of defence is a communal Malaysia, whether Malay Malaysia, Chinese Malaysia or Indian Malaysia, then it is unlikely to get the majority of Malaysians to enthusiastically sacrifice or die for it.

It is vitally important therefore that from the outset the object of defence should be clearly defined and understood by the people. In our mind, unless the object of defence is a Malaysian Malaysia, it will be impossible to create a credible defence capability from among our citizens – welded through unity and a common purpose and destiny.

The next question is: Who are to be responsible for the defence of the country? Is it the entire citizenry, or only one race?

If the defence responsibility is rested largely on the shoulders of one race, then it will give rise to the inescapable conclusion that the object of defence is not a multi-racial Malaysian society, but a racial one. This is why the continuous expansion of the racially exclusive Malay Regiment is so harmful to the development of a Malaysian nation. This is why we want to Malay Regiment to be integrated into a multi-racial regiment, and stop having separate racial existence.

Unless the government can give the right answers to these two fundamental questions – that the object of defence is a multi-racial, just and equal Malaysian society, and that this is the task not of one racial group, but of all citizens – then the Alliance government’s defence capability will never be able to stand a serious test, whether from internal revolt or external attack.

In brief, the best source of strength in defence in Malaysia is the unity of the diverse races in Malaysia. Without it, all the mirages and jetfighters will be to no purpose.