Ingredients for the success of a political movement

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a meeting of the Setapak DAP Branch at Circular Road, Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 10th March 1972 at 7.30 p.m.

Ingredients for the success of a political movement

If a political movement is to make a lasting political impact and contribution, it must be an ideological political movement with a collective leadership. The DAP is such a political party. It is unlike, for instance, the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia which was a political party of personalities, and when the personalities defect, quarrel and break up, the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia lies in ruins and shambles.

The DAP is not one man or two man or even three men’s party. It is a party of all Malaysians who fervently believe in the ideology of a democratic socialist, a genuine multi-racial Malaysia where every Malaysian have an equal right to the political, economic, social, educational and cultural opportunities in life.

This is why although in the course of our long political struggle, there may occur defections, like recently Lee Bang Cheang from DAP to MCA, the general forward movement and expansion of the party is not affected.

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

Human beings 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 defections had taken place. Two instances that come to mind are Lai Tek, Chin Peng’s predecessor as Secretary-General of MCP. Lai Teck was one of the most brilliant leaders of the MCP, but was believed to be a double, if not a triple agent – serving both the British and Japanese intelligence. It was Lai Tek who was responsible for the famous ‘September 1st” incident at Batu Caves in 1942 when about 100 top Communist leaders gathering for a meeting were massacred or captured by the Japanese. Finally Lai Tek absconded with the entire MCP funds in 1947. another instance was Lam Swee, top organizer of communist trade unions before the First Emergency and during the Emergency, the MCP boss in Johore. He later defected from the MCP and went over to the Special Branch.

The MCP, despite these major party defections, continued to be a serious political force today. I am not here discussing the merits or demerits if the MCP struggle, but giving an illustration to show that party defections cannot be completely prevented, and that these defections do not necessarily cause the decline or disintegration of the Party.

In the course of the political struggle of the DAP, some will fall by the way side, either for lack of resolution, conviction, or because they have gone soft and decadent from the baneful influence of certain political success. This is human weakness.

Thus, we had a case of a DAP State Assemblyman, who before election, was a hard worker. After election, success went into his head and he neglected his party and constituency duties, and even deserted his wife and children, took a mistress after frequenting bars and cabarets. This State Assemblymen has long been expelled from the DAP.

The DAP has not only as a whole remain politically and organizationally intact, in fact, since September last year, the DAP has began to forge ahead and chalk up progress politically and organizationally.

The future of the DAP must not and will not depend on personalities, but the ideas and ideals that we stand and fight for. Personalities can come and go, but the ideas and ideals for which the Party stand for and for which the people supported, will go on.

The DAP does not want big names and great personalities, but Malaysians who fiercely and fervently believe in a democratic socialist Malaysia.

When the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysian was formed in 1968, there was no greater collection of big names and great personalities whether in the political, academic or trade union field. Within three years, all the great names and big personalities have gone separate ways for greener pastures, without leaving any positive contribution to Malaysian politics.

The DAP will remain a collective mass political movement, drawing strength from all races, to build a new Malaysia. It will remain an ideological political movement, and will never degenerate into a party of personalities whose fate is dependent on one or two man. This will be the secret of our political success.