Coalition politics – politics of consensus or politics of subservience and betrayal?

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Sixth Anniversary Dinner of the Penang State DAP held at Holoman Restaurant in Penang on Saturday, 16th September 1972 at 9 p.m.

Coalition politics – politics of consensus or politics of subservience and betrayal?

I want to pose a question tonight. Is the recent trend of coalition politics in Malaysia the result of the politics of consensus or the politics of subservience and betrayal?

After the 1969 General Elections, when the MCA and MIC were decimated, the UMNO lost confidence in the MCA and MIC and began to look for new partners – the SUPP in Sarawak, the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia in Penang and the People’s Progressive Party in Perak.

The coalition itch of the UMNO showed that the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC is only a marriage of convenience, and that although the UMNO had sworn eternal love and fidelity to the MCA and MIC, it would have no second thoughts to be unfaithful to them and look for new wives and concubines for its political harem if it deems it necessary for its political interest.

It also demonstrated vividly that the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC is not an alliance of equals, but between UMNO, the political master, and MCA and MIC, the political subjects.

This was why although the MCA rank-and-file and all ranks of leadership vehemently opposed the idea of coalition arrangements with the SUPP in Sarawak, the Gerakan in Penang and the PPP in Perak, the UMNO just rode roughshod over their views and objections.

Again, in the recent wooing of the PAS by UMNO for coalition tie-ups at State and Federal levels, the MCA is conspicuous by its lack of any right to have any sat whatsoever. In the larger matters of state, the views of the MCA and its leaders just do not count as far as the UMNO is concerned.

This is why on this vital matter of coalition possibility between the UMNO and PAS, not a word was said or allowed to be said at the 21st Annual General Assembly of the MCA – apart from the expected words of compliance from its President, Tun Tan Siew Sin.

In the Alliance negotiating team between Alliance and PAS, not a single MCA or MIC leader is represented – for they do not count.

It is thus crystal clear that the Alliance of UMNO and MCA and MIC is not a coalition of equals, but more of a political master and political servant relationship. In such an alliance of master and servant, there can be no question of consensus but only subservience.

This is plain for all to see. In fact, this was precisely the reason advanced by Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam in his justification for the PPP coalition with the UMNO in Perak.

Denying that he had betrayed the memory, ideals and life-long struggle of his late brother, D.R. Seenivasagam, Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam claimed that the PPP had never in its political life attacked the UMNO. He said that to the PPP, its be-all and end-all of political ambition is to attack and kill the MCA and MIC in Perak for their subservience to the UMNO. Now that the MCA and MIC in Perak have been killed, it is only logical that the PPP should step into their shoes and team up with the UMNO.

Thus, to Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam, his entire career had been to attack and kill the MCA and MIC for being the political servants of the UMNO, not because political subservience and betrayal is dishonourable, improper and against the people’s interest, but because the PPP was denied a chance to replace the MCA and MIC as the UMNO’s political clients.

The series of coalition governments have not fostered or promoted greater national consensus about the fundamentals of nation building and national unity – but have only aggravated and exacerbated public disenchantment, discontent and frustration because of the blatant politics of subservience and betrayal which permitted politicians, some of long-standing, to sell their soul and principles for self-gain.

It is argued that the politics of consensus, leading to coalition politics, can bring about a more stable government and country, as destructive criticisms from opposition parties will be ended, and the energies of the people can be focused on development while the talents of political leaders concentrated on national development and construction.

The example of Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam is a good example of the fallacy of this argument. What is Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam’s responsibility in the Perak Coalition Government? As Goh Hock Guan said in the Ulu Selangor parliamentary by-election in May this year, it is indeed pathetic that Datuk S.P. Seenivasagam should end up his political career looking after cows and cattle in Ipoh, and be charged with looking after its public library.

The politics and subservience and betrayal are no solution to the pressing and burning problems of Malaysia. The DAP will keep faith with the people and country, and will never sell-out our ideals and principles for office, status or wealth.

This was why the DAP leadership resolutely refused to entertain any idea of the DAP dissolving and joining the MCA, in return for Ministerial posts, although the MCA had found an advocate in Goh Hock Guan.

The DAP will remain committed to the noble ideals it stand for, and will stand or fall by those ideals.