Fan Yew Teng’s case – encroachment against basic freedoms

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr.Lim Kit Siang, to a meeting of DAP Selangor State leaders, branch officials and activities at the DAP Kuala Lumpur Branch at 63-D Jalan Sultan, on Sunday, 8th July 1973 at 2p.m.

1. Fan Yew Teng’s case: A test of the people’s will to withstand undermocratic encroachment against basic freedoms.

Three days ago, Sdr. Fan Yew Teng, DAP National Organising Secretary and M.P. for Kempar, was re-arrested and re-charged under the Sedition Act after winning an appeal all the way to the Privy Council on the same subject matter.

It is clear to all that the re-charge is motivated solely by political considerations on the hope of breaking the will of Sdr.Fan Yew Teng and other DAP leaders and activities to oppose the unjust and undemocratic policies of the Alliance, or to bankrupt the party by involving it in expensive litigation, or preferably both.

Of all the opposition parties in Malaysia, no other party has suffered greater persecution or suppression than the DAP, for it is the only party which has dared to stand up unflinchingly for the rights of the downtrodden as amply illustrated by our record in Parliament, the State Assemblies and in public.

As I disclosed a year ago, the Government’s Special Branch has a special unit which is devoted entirely to the task of devising and implementing projects to subvert, undermine, sabotage or destroy the DAP by alternating their tactics of intimidation and blackmail with the seductive tactics of offering menetary, material and other inducements.

In fact, at one stage, the “Projects Section” was so optimistic about their chances of wrecking the DAP from internal infiltration that Tun Abdul Razak, in his UMNO Presidential Address to the UMNO General Assembly last year, predicted the disintegration of the DAP.

The “Projects Section” has failed and Tun Razak’s prediction proved wrong, for after our purge in the party of anti-party, destructive and parasitic elements, we have gone on from strength.

This will not stop the “Projects Section” however from continuing to do their work of subversion, for they are paid to do it. DAP leaders will continuously be subjected to a test of their political will, integrity and character. This is why I say that those who think that by re-charging Fan Yew Teng, DAP leaders will weaken in their resolve to oppose all the injustices and ineoualities perpetrated by the present authorities are going to be disappointed.

But the Fan Yew Teng case has an importance going well beyond our own party interest.

It is more merely a test of the political capacity and will of the DAP; it is also a test of the people’s will to stand up against undemocratic encroachments against basic freedoms.

For what Fan Yew Teng did was to exercise his freedom of speech and publication as enshrined under the Malaysian Constitution. The issue involved is not merely whether Fan Yew Teng is guilty of sedition, but whether the people can democratically and freely express their views about the future of this country and their children.

One lesson history teachers us is that our basic rights are never given free, but must be fought and struggled for, sometimes through bloodshed in wars and revolutions; but at other times, through painful, protracted processes of the law courts and legislative chambers.

The Fan Yew Teng Case should concern all Malaysians who deeply cherish a free and democratic society, where they and their children can live as free men, and not as political slaves, economic serfs, or cultural subjects of others.

Thus, the defense of Fan Yew Teng should not only be a concern of Fan Yew Teng himself, and the party, but the concerns of all Malaysians who share in out ideals for a more just and equal Malaysia.

2. Formation of Opposition Front

When Parliament reconvenes tomorrow, opposition parties will continue their meetings to seek out whether there is any basis for the formation of a United Opposition Front.

Much as the DAP desires a united opposition front, such a front must be based on an agreement of principles, and not just a get-together for expendiency.

I need not stress here that the DAP will under no circumstances agree to negotiate or bargain away our basic political principles.

I am aware that some branches in Selangor and other states are criticial of a united opposition front owing to a diversity of reasons, not least of which is the unpleasant past experience of the DAP in ventures of this kind.

I will ask all branches to be patient and entrust the matter in the hands of the Central Executive Committee, which will safeguard the best interest of the party.

All branches and members, however, will be given opportunities to express their views on this subject.