The future of the Chinese in Malaysia

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when officially opening the Salak N. V. DAP Branch in Sungei Siput, Perak, on Sunday, 18th November 1973 at 5 p.m.

The future of the Chinese in Malaysia

Last week, a Malaysian student from an overseas university home on vacation came to see me and said he was making a study of the future of the Chinese in Malaysia.

He said he had seen the officials of various political parties, including those who had been expelled from the MCA, and they were all very pessimistic about the future of the Chinese in Malaysia.

He asked for my views. I told him that the future of the Chinese in Malaysia depended on two factors:

1. The attitude of the Malaysian Chinese – their preparedness to fully indentify themselves with the Malaysian nation and soil, to be ready to die in the defence of Malaysia and to struggle an make sacrifices to build up the type of Malaysia we aspire for ourselves and our children where we could all be proud citizens of this country.

2. The attitude of the governing authority – the readiness of the government, through its political, economic, educational and cultural policies, to permit and facilitate the Malaysian Chinese to fully identify themselves with the Malaysian nation.

Both these factors are intertwined, and they can lead to a vicious circle. Thus, those who are alienated by the Alliance government’s nation building policies may feel their ties of identification with the Malaysian nation progressively weakened.

It is my firm conviction that both these factors would not only determine the future of the Chinese in Malaysia, but the success or failure of Malaysia as a distinct and sovereign state.

I earnestly urge all parties and persons to conduct a serious reappraisal of the progress of our nation-building experiment in the light of these two factors, and take all necessary steps to ensure their prevalence in Malaysian national life.

On the part of the government, it should frankly and bravely seek out government policies and measures which have the effect of retarding the growth of Malaysian consciousness and identity; and make the necessary changes and modifications.

In my views, one of the greatest tasks of a Malaysian government at this stage of nation building is to set an example of non-racial approach to the problems of Malaysia, for it is only in this way that no racial group would feel reasons to fear for the future.

It is highly unfortunate that the New Economic Policy is based on the false premise that all the Chinese are rich and all the Malays poor; when in fact, the majority of the Chinese and Malays are poor, and 70 per cent of Malaysian economy are in the hands of foreigners.

It is all the more unfortunate that this New Economic Policy should be supported not only by UMNO and PAS, but by all the Alliance and National Front component parties and their leaders like Tun Tan Siew Sin, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, Dato S.P. Seenivasagam.

Equally important, the Alliance government must stop its officials from questioning the loyalty of the Malaysian Chinese just because they exercised their constitutional right to send their children to Chinese schools, as was raised in Parliament recently by the Alliance M. P. for Tumpat, Datuk Dr. Haji Abdul Aziz bin Omar. Such utterances can only create greater doubts in the minds of the Malaysian Chinese as to whether they are allowed to belong to Malaysia.

Hand in hand with government reassessment of its nation-building policies, the Malaysian Chinese must identify themselves more vigorously with all aspects of Malaysian life.

I cannot agree with those who take the viewpoint which can be summed up thus: “If I am not allowed to belong, then I do not want to belong” and remove themselves from deep concern and involvement with Malaysian events, apart from making money and earning a living. Such attitudes are not only defeatist, but disastrous in the long run, both to one-self and to the nation. Our attitude should be: “I am born here and I belong here. If I am not allowed to belong, then I will fight for the right to belong by changing the present unjust structure which allowed such attitudes to prevail.”

To fully indentify themselves with Malaysian nation and soil does not mean a passive state of mind, nor does it mean merely readiness to die for Malaysia, but also the preparedness to do one’s public duty to join forces with other like-minded Malaysians to shape the Malaysian nation in the political, economic and cultural image we want – a genuinely multi-racial, democratic socialist Malaysia.

At present, we are having a voters’ registration month from Nov. 1 to Nov. 30. Although the Elections Commission has made registration of voters are very complicated and inconvenient matter for the ordinary citizen, every eligible unregistered voter must be prepared to sacrifice some time by going to the registration centre to register, so that they can help decide their own destiny and not let others decide if for them.

If we are not prepared to take the trouble of finding out the registration centre and going to the registration centre to register, then we have forfeited the right to grumble and complain about the injustices and social wrongs in the country, and lost the fight for a better life for ourselves and our children.

Let all Malaysian citizens above the age of 21, in the remaining 12 days left to registration of voters, take the trouble to get our vote registered, so that we can be masters of our own fate and not puppets of force beyond our control.