The defection of Lee Beng Cheang

Statement by DAP Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, held at a Press Conference held at DAP Kuala Lumpur Branch at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 4th February 1972 at 12.30 p.m.

The defection of Lee Beng Cheang

I have not received any letter of resignation from Lee Beng Cheang. In Fact, he seems to have gone into hiding. It is noteworthy that at the MCA press conference yesterday announcing Lee Beng Cheang’s defection to the MCA, Lee Beng Cheang was himself absent.

In a way I feel sorry for Lee Beng Cheang. I believe he was blackmailed and forced into his present action. If I know Lee Beng Cheang, he is the most miserable man in public life today.

Let the case of Lee Beng Cheang be a lesson to all Opposition politicians of the important of leading an impeccable personal life. The Alliance Party and Government is so unscrupulous and unprincipled that it would stoop to any depth to exploit any vulnerable point and weakness in the character or private life of an Opposition politician to discredit or compromise him.

The Alliance Party has intensified its campaign to try to discredit the DAP by inducing DAP MPs and State Assemblymen to defect to them, or compel them to do so through exploitation of their weaknesses or blackmail, or attempt to eliminate them from the political process by one foul way or another.

Only last week, the DAP Member of Parliament for Setapak, Walter Loh was approached by Alex Lee, with the authority of Tan Siew Sin, to defect to the MCA in return for either Lee Siok Yew or Lee San Choon’s ministerial position.

The DAP Member of Parliament for Port Dickson, Dr. A. Soorian was approached by a Minister and promised money and property, outside Malaysia, if he would join the MIC. He was also assured that the impending court charges against him would be dropped.

As has been shown from the cases of the expulsion of four Assemblymen from the party previously, we have had some weak links in the Party. But the removal of these weak links, through defection either through inducements or compulsion, would not shake the strong base and thrust of the DAP.

In fact, Lee Beng Cheang had never positively contributed to the progress and expansion of the DAP. He was one of those State Assemblymen who let down their constituents by totally neglecting to attend to the problems of his constituency. He was recently instructed to pull up his socks.

I see that apart from the MCA, the Pekemas leaders, like Dr. Tan Chee Khoon, Yeoh Teck Chye and V. Veerappen, are gloating over the defection of Lee Beng Cheang and predicting the end of DAP. His is one of their few solaces in recent times, after what they have gone through in Gerakan and Pekemas.

History tells us that the future of a political movement is not decided by the betrayal of one or two State Assemblymen, but by the dedication and determination of the leadership and membership to work and sacrifice for their political objectives.

Human begins being what they are, it is impossible to totally prevent defection or betrayal. Even the Malayan Communist Party, which has the image of unsurpassed discipline where every member is a hard-core and unbreakable, great party betrayals had taken place. Two instances that come to mind are Lai Tek, Chin’ Peng’s predecessor as Secretary-General who was a double agent if not a triple agent, and who caused the massacre of the MCP Central Executive Committee by the Japanese at the Batu Caves just before the end of the Japanese Occupation. Another example is Lam Swee, top organizer of communist trade unions before the First Emergency and during the Emergency, the MCP boss in Johore. He later betrayed the MCP and went over to the Special Branch.

The MCP, which suffered two such major betrayals, did not suffer in discipline or determination in its struggle. I am not here discussing the merits or demerits of the MCP struggle, but giving illustrations to show that these betrayals do not necessarily cause the Party’s decline or disintegration.

Mr. Kam Woon Wah in his statement said that DAP leaders have admitted that they are on the defensive and are fighting a losing battle.

In this connection, I would just quote from a report which I made to the DAP Central Executive Committee on January 16 this year, which answers Mr. Kam Woon Wah:

“Politically, we have cause for satisfaction. In post-May 13 Malaysia, as a result of the fear and despair generated in the minds of the people by the May 13 racial riots, the general loss of confidence in the democratic process, the Constitution Amendment Act, the amendment to the Sedition laws, the arbitrary exercise of power by the Alliance government, the DAP was on the political defensive.

“I had thought, when I discussed this problem at the second meeting of the Urban Organisation Committee on 31st August 1971 that it would take us two or three years before we fully regain the initiative to launch a new political, propaganda and ideological offensive.

“We have been able, however, starting from September last year, to begin seizing the political initiative and enter into a political offensive, with our campaign and advocacy of basic problems like the problem of the 750000 new villagers, rural poverty, education, elected local government, rising prices and unemployment.

“In fact, we have been so successful in our political offensive on the new villages problem that the Prime Minister had to appoint a new Minister on new villages.

“In the new year, 1972, we should make use of the momentum we have built up to launch a greater political offensive.”

The people are the final judges as to which party, and who, stood up for the rights and interests of the people, and which party and who, fought only for their own petty self-interest, position, money, titles and influence.

Finally, the DAP Member of Parliament, Water Loh, State Assemblyman for Penchala, Hor Cheok Foon and the State Assemblyman for Ampang, S. O. Wong, will continue to double up to serve the constituents in Sentul through the DAP People’s Representative Centre at Jalan Pekeliling.