The Goh Hock Guan Affair

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking to Selangor DAP State Sub-Committee and Selangor branch representatives at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 19th June 1972 at 7.30 p.m.

The Goh Hock Guan Affair

Goh Hock Guan has tried to explain the DAP Central Executive Committee decision yesterday to strip him of all party positions, suspend him as a party member, and ask him to show cause why he should not be expelled as a party member, as one of personal differences between him and me.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Hock Guan does not believe it himself. This was why he did not turn up for the CEC meeting yesterday, for he knows that his activities over the last 22 months had been highly disruptive and detrimental to party discipline, morale and unity. This is why the Central Executive Committee unanimously resolved to take disciplinary action against Goh Hock Guan.

When I came out from detention in October 1970, the first task I set myself to do was to get Goh Hock Guan back into the mainstream of party leadership and responsibility.

At that time, Goh Hock Guan was not even a CEC member, having resigned from the post of Secretary-General and other party positions after the events of May 13.

I encountered all-round opposition, from the CEC down to State and branch levels, for inside and outside the Party, the memory of Goh Hock Guan’s stepping down as Party Secretary-General in a time of crisis was still very fresh , and there was hostility and open questioning of Goh Hock Guan’s qualifications and fitness to be a leader.

With great effort, I persuaded my party colleagues to go along with my intention to rehabilitate Goh Hock Guan for I had thought he could still contribute to the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia.

I met Goh Hock Guan shortly after my release and invited him to return to Party leadership as a National Vice Chairman. Goh Hock Guan countered with the demand to be the National Chairman of the Party, in place of Dr. Chen Man Hin. He also wanted the Party, at the forthcoming Delegates’ Congress, to present him with a ‘Malaysian Malaysia’ medal for his signal contribution to the Party.

His demand to the Party National Chairman was clearly preposterous and not acceptable. The Party’s presentation of a medal to him was also out of the question, considering the great difficulties I already had merely to get my party colleagues to agree to Goh Hock Guan’s rehabilitation.

Goh Hock Guan then demanded that apart from the National Vice Chairmanship, he should also be the Chairman of the Party’s Disciplinary Committee, and International Secretary.

On looking back, the seeds of Goh Hock Guan’s disruptive and destructive activities were sown when he could not get my agreement that he should be Party Chairman and be awarded a Party medal.

When I came out from detention, I took over as Chairman of the Interim Selangor State Sub-Committee to reorganise the Selangor DAP.

At the first working meeting of the Interim Selangor State Sub-Committee, I invited Goh Hock Guan to attend. When he came, half way through the meeting, I there and then proposed that I would withdraw as Selangor State Chairman in favour of Goh Hock Guan.

I could sense the open hostility and antagonism to this proposal, because the members questioned the reasons for his stepping down as Party Secretary-General at a time of crisis.

However, to bring about his rehabilitation, although the post of Selangor DAP Chairman was not discussed with him previously, I put the entire weight of my prestige on my proposal. In the event, although there was general disagreement, only one member voted against my proposal.

I have done this, not to increase and concentrate powers in my hands, but to transfer powers to him so that he can become Selangor DAP State Chairman.

In 1971 and 1972, Goh Hock Guan repeatedly made statements and pronouncements which either put the Party in an embarrassing position, or contradicted or went against policy decisions of the Party Congress or the Central Executive Committee. He also conducted himself in a way highly prejudicial to party discipline, morale and unity.

In December 1971, the Central Executive Committee was concerned about the seriousness of the problem posed by Goh Hock Guan, and asked Dr. Chen Man Hin to discuss with Hock Guan.

At that meeting, which was held in Parliament House in January 1972, Goh Hock Guan told Dr. Chen:

‘I am born to lead. Since my schooldays, I have never followed. You must take me for what I am. Otherwise, if it is necessary to break, though painful, then it will have to be.’

Hock Guan told Dr. Chen that there must be adjustments in the Party leadership, and suggested restricting of the Party by making him Party Chairman, and Dr. Chen Man Hin would occupy a new post as President of the Congress.

Subsequently, there was another meeting at Parliament House, where I was present, with Dr.Chen and Hock Guan. Hock Guan again pressed that he be made the Party Chairman. When I explained that this would not be acceptable to the CEC members, the party members and even the public, Hock Guan accused me of not being sincere in wanting to make party adjustments.

Hock Guan continued, even more blatantly, to flout Party decisions and undermine the Party leadership.

I would here refer only to the Straits of Malacca issue. Before the CEC met on the issue, Goh Hock Guan had already issued a statement in Penang opposing the Malaysian claim on the Straits of Malacca.
When the CEC met in April 1972, the CEC laid down the party stand that the DAP does not oppose the Malaysian claim over the Straits of Malacca, but caution against any rash or reckless pursuit of the claim as to introduce a new element of super-power conflict into this region.

Despite this clear-cut CEC decision, in the May session of Parliament, Goh Hock Guan openly flouted this decision by asserting that the Straits of Malacca should remain an international waterway.

As a result, for two weeks during the Ulu Selangor by-election, the DAP was attacked for a stand which we never held.

As Chairmen of the DAP Disciplinary Committee, Goh Hock Guan not only did not take any steps to strengthen party discipline, but was the cause of the indiscipline in the Party. Party member and officials point to the statements and activities of Goh Hock Guan, which clearly undermine party leadership, morale and unity, as proof why no discipline should be taken against them without Hock Guan being first disciplined.

Hock Guan would not concern himself with constituency problem, holding that the many hawker and squatter problems in Bungsar are too small for him to personally attend to, as he was only interested in ‘national issues’.

The disciplinary action which the DAP Central Executive Committee has taken against Goh Hock Guan was taken in the best interest of the party and the cause of a Malaysian Malaysia.

The motion to discipline Goh Hock Guan was proposed by Dr. K.S.Das and seconded by Yeap Ghim Guan and Haji Mohamed Sharif bin Harun. It was passed unanimously without a single opposition or abstention by all the CEC members at the meeting. It is clear that the leadership is fully united on this issue.

No political party can survive if it allows any person to become bigger than the party, and act in utter disregard of party discipline, morale and unity.

We are all in the DAP not because we support any particular person, but because of the ideals and objectives the Party stand for.

I am confident that with the disciplinary action taken by the DAP CEC yesterday, we can begin a new page in our struggle for a more just and equal, more democratic, Malaysian Malaysia.