Democratisation of Malaysian national life

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang , at a DAP Public Rally held at Dato Keramat Padang, Penang, on Sunday, 26th March, 1972 at 9.00 p.m.

Democratisation of Malaysian national life – the only effective and long-term answer to the Challenge of Militant Communism.

The challenge of militant communism in Malaysia has become graver and more intense in recent months. This is clearly seen by the increase in activities by the Malaysian armed forced, and the number of military operation mounted against the militant communists, like the Gerakan Setia in Sungei Siput area, the Gerakan Ngayau in Sarawak, the Gerakan Sedar in Baling and Kulim districts, the imposition of curfews, the putting up of barded wires in Perak new villages, etc. Yesterday, the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, announced the grave step of sequestering and quarantining the Third Division of Sarawak from the rest of the state, making it a special security area, virtually under martial law.

Although the Government keeps saying that the security situation is under control, it is clear to the people in Malaysia and the world that the challenge of militant communism is a very great one.

Arms and soldiers alone, however, cannot counter the challenge of militant communism, for the strength and power of militant communism lies in its appeal to the economic, social, political and cultural frustrations and dissatisfactions of the people.

The bitter lesson of the United States of America in Vietnam, where despite her super military hardware, fire-power and might, she could not beat the Communist guerillas, and had to lose the flower of American youth who lost their lives there, is lesson to all that the way to fight ideas, is not by bullets alone, but by better ideas.

In Malaysia, the answer to the challenge of militant communism is not through military means, but through the resolution of deep-seated political, social, economic and cultural discontents of the people on which militant communism thrives as fish in water.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs, Tun Dr. Ismail, said last year that there are three types of people who support the militant communists. They are firstly, the die-hard communists; secondly, those who were blackmailed and forced into support the communists; and thirdly, those who join forces with the communists out of disenchantment with government and the democratic process.

Tun Dr. Ismail said that it was important to win back the third group of people.

The only effective way to win back this third group of people, and be the long-term answer and counter to the challenge of militant communism is to restore to the people confidence and faith in the democratic process to bring about the political, economic, social changes which the people desire.

In other words, there must be genuine political democracy, economic democracy and cultural democracy in Malaysia if militant communism is going to be defeated in Malaysia.

I therefore call on the Malaysian Government to carry out comprehensive democratisation of Malaysian national life – as the best counter to militant communism. This comprehensive democratisation of Malaysian national life must include the following:

1. Democratisation of the political process, where political parties can freely without police interference carry out their political activities, and where the Parliament and State Assemblies are the final unfettered forums where the people’s representatives can voice the aspirations of the people without fear of arrest for sedition or subversion.

2. Democratisation of the police powers by the abolition of the Internal Security Act and the undemocratic police powers to detain a person indefinitely without trial.

3. Democratisation of local government by holding immediate Municipal, town and local council elections.

4. Democratisation of the information process, where the mass media, like the radio, television and press are not instruments for the ruling party to spread propaganda, but are free vehicles for the dissemination of views by all political parties.

5. Democratisation of the economic order in Malaysian where the peasants and workers can enjoy the full fruits of their labour, and cease to be exploited by the feudalists, compradore, capitalists’ class.

6. Democratisation of cultural life in Malaysia so that all cultures and cultural forms can freely develop and grow in Malaysia.

7. Democratisation of education in Malaysia so that a student is free to receive the type of education of his own or his parent’s choice so long as it is Malaysian-oriented and Malaysian-centred.

If this 7-point democratisation process is carried out, then Malaysia will take a big step towards national unity, and overcome the challenge of militant communism.