Reply to Rahman Ya’acob: Communist threat can only be met, not by denunciations, but by change of government policies to win and retain popular support.

Speech by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka ,Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat during the Committee of Supply 1967 debate on the Prime Minister’s Department on Monday, 24th Nov. 1975.

Reply to Rahman Ya’acob: Communist threat can only be met, not by denunciations, but by change of government policies to win and retain popular support.

I wish first to refer to B Code 1100 (4) on National Security in the Prime Minister’s Department.

In the Supplementary Treasury Document to the 1976 Budget Estimate, on page 59, it is stated: “Majlis Keselematan Negara telah ditubuhkan untuk bertanggungjawab bagi penyelarasan dasar-dasar yang berkaitan dengan keselamatan Negara termasuklah pengarahan gerakan operasi yang diadakan oleh pasukan keselamatan, selain daripada bertanggungjawab bagi penyelarasan dasar-dasar yang berkaitan dengan keselamatan negaraa, iaa bertanggungjawab juga mengenai perkara-perkara yang mempunyai implikasi keselamatan.”

In page 69, it is further stated: “Majlis Keselamatan Negara … senantiasa mengkaji punca-punca ancaman keselamatan kepada Negara yang boleh timbul dalam berbagai corak samada secara langsung stau tidak langsung. Pihak Pengganas-pengganas konmunis dan kacau-kacau penyokongnyang senantiasa mencuba mengujudkan kacaubilau di dalam Negara untuk tujuan-tujuan tertentu mereka. Keadaan keselamatan pada masa-masa hadapan akan lebih rumit kerana usaha-usaha pengganas komunis membentuk barisan gurila Bandar. Majlis Keselamatan Negara akan memperkemas usaha-usaha pendekatan yang lebih ‘integrated’ untuk menghapuskan ancaman dan dinilai dari masa kesemasa.”

Last Thursday, the Sarawak Chief Minister and Member for Payang, Datuk Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’acob, asked what is the Opposition’s stand on the mounting communist killings, or to use his own words, “where does the Opposition stand on this issue of life and death to which we are committed? What stance, what posture, is it adopting to this determined attempt by ruthless fanatics to destroy all that we have built up since independence, to destroy our democracy and to place our country under the terror of the cruellest of dictatorships?”

I wish to stress here, however, that the communist threat and challenge cannot be met and overcome by denunciations, but only by the change of government policies to win and retain popular support.

It is for this reason that we in the DAP had sought to open the eyes of the government to take various measures which would win the hearts and minds of the people. In this meeting of Parliament alone, I had sought to introduce a bill to effectively eliminate corruption in high political places, a bill to repeal Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to provide for the continuation of Chinese and Tamil primary schools without the fear of the Sword of Damocles of conversion hanging over their heads; and during the Budget debate, to urge the government to grapple with the paramount economic task of fighting poverty and to prevent rich Malays from making use of the second prong objective of the New Economic Policy to restructure society to exploit and oppress the poor Malays. All these proposals go to the heart of the battle to win the people’s confidence. The Barisan Nasional government, however, is too short-sighted to see where the real national interests lies.

Date Abdul Rahman Ya’acob challenged the Opposition to state where it stands.

I declare here that the DAP will stand firmly unwaveringly and steadfastly, with all those forces which uphold the democratic rights of Malaysians, fight corruption, eliminate the class exploitations and committed to the building of a genuinely multi-racial Malaysian nation.

Does the Barisan Nasional pass all these four tests? In fact, it is the activities of Barisan Nasional leaders like Datuk Rahman Ya’acon, who, as is public knowledge is chiefly responsible for the arbitrary, unjustified detention of Dato James Wong on charges, who is responsible for the erosion of public confidence in the Government, this means the neutralisations on of the ground and the opening up of the battle for the hearts and minds of the people, among which, the Malayan Communist Party is one of the contestants.

Communist threat and challenge can only be won by recognising it as basically a political challenge.

The communist threat and challenge can only be won if it is recognised and admitted that it is basically a political challenge.

After the communist victories in South Vietnam and Cambodia, the Prime Minister, Tun Razak, sought to make a distinction between the communists in Indo-China and Malaysia, in remarking that the “people of Indo-China fought for national liberation from foreign influence and domination” while describing the Malaysian communists as “pure bandits”.

A government mentality of regarding the Malayan communists as “pure bandits” would inhibit the government and those in authority from responding to the inherently political challenge posed by the Malayan Communist Party. It should be food for thought that all communist leaders, the leading including Mao Tse Tung, had themselves been described as “pure bandits” by their opponents during their early struggles.

I make this point, and a very important point, for I detect a failure of unwillingness on the part of sizable sections of those in authority to realise the real nature of the communist challenge.

I also detect another official mentality, to underestimate the capacity of the Malayan communist party, which is also to be seen in Dato Rahman Ya’kub’s speech last Thursday, when he likened the Malayan Communist Party cadres as “cornered rats”, who will continue to “indulge in these individual and isolated acts of terror in their futile attempt to break our will, to mar our image and to drive investment capital away.”

It the Malayan Communist Party cadres are “cornered rats”, then all that is needed is a bit of time to mop them up and eliminate them, without any need for serious concern or extraordinary measures being taken, for “cornered rats” cannot pose any challenge to the whole political system, but can only determine how long they can avoid elimination, and become ‘dead rats’.
To deal with ‘cornered rats’, there can be no justification for the extraordinary expenditures which the government is planning for the expansion of the police and defence forces, both in terms of personnel and equipment , seriously underming developmental efforts of the country .

On 22nd April 1975, after attending a briefing of the Johore State Security Council, the Home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, said that the communists in Malaysia are indulging in an “impossible dream” if they think they can score a victory in Malaysia similar to that in Cambodia and Vietnam.

He said the Government knew who the communists are in the towns and in the rural areas and efforts are being made to round them up although it may take some time.

He added: “With the co-operation of the people, this exercise will be over faster. We knew the Red ways and methods of operation and it is just a matter of time.”

Reduced to its purely security angle, just like Rahman Ya’kub’s “cornered rat” approach, this problem of communist challenge appears very simple to resolve. If this problem is so simple and straightforward, the communist challenge would not have continued to increase in magnitude and intensity, which is most untypical of a ‘cornered rat’.

The mounting jungle and urban guerrilla activities was first explained due to three-way splitef the Malayan communist Party, first with the breakaway of the Malayan Communist Party (Revolutionary Faction) in February 1970 and a second split which resulted in the formation of the Malayan Communist Party (Marxist-Leninist) on August 1 1974, ideological leadership.

If the Home Affairs Minister is right, then the government is partly responsible for the increased spate of communist killings in the towns and jungles, for the Minister of Home Affairs had claimed in the recent International Seminar on Investment Opportunities in Malaysia last month that the penetration of government agents into the Communist Party of Malaya had caused the three-way split in the MCP.

Be that as it may, the repeated government reaction to each communist killing as a ‘last desperate act’ wears thinner and thinner when these incidents continue to grow in number, intensity and sophistication.

The security situation is increasingly serious, which is one important factor driving away foreign investment.

So far this year, more than 50 members of the Security Forces have been killed, a figure which is comparable to 1956’s 47 and is much worse than the 22 in the Year of Independence in 1957. In 1956, 307 communists were killed and in 1957, 240. This means that the government forces are suffering the casualties of 1956 and 1957 without inflicting the casualties of 1956 and 1957.

If it is still needed to debunk the fallacy that the Malayan Communist Party upsurge of jungle and urgan guerrilla warfare is a ‘last desperate act of cornered rats’, we need only observe that ‘cornered rats’ do not plan a Second Seven-Year Plan to seize power by 1982, as stated by the Inspector-General of Police, Dato Sri Mohamed Haniff, in June this year, as the new master plan of the Malayan Communist Party.

There is another fallacy, which is highly detrimental to Malaysian nation building, which is prevalent in top political and government officials of the Barisan Nasional government. This is the tendency to assume that every Chinese in Malaysia is either a communist of a communist-sympathiser.

The Home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, said in June after the ambush and killing of 11 Malaysians and four Thais that there were a total of 2,054 communists out of which 732 were Malaysian Chinese, 107 Malays of Malaysian origin.

On 12th October, after the grenade attack on parading troops at the Police Field Force headquarters and the bombing of the National Monument, the Education Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamed, said there were about 2,000 communist guerrillas in Kuala Lumpur. I do not know whether these figures by the Ministry of Education officials, or derived from the Ministry of Home Affairs. With the killing of the Perak CPO in Ipoh, probably there are also now 2,000 communist guerrillas in Ipoh.

I want to stress here that the overwhelming majority of Malaysian Chinese, just like their Malay counterparts, are not communists or communist-sympathisers. They are Malaysians who born and bred here, and all that they ask is that they become fully part of the nation, participating fully and equally in the political, economic, educational social and cultural life of the country which recognise and respect the heterogeneous character and cultural diversity in Malaysia.

However, if the Malaysian Chinese are suspected as communists or communist-sympathisers, and are treated as such, their loyalty constantly questioned, their legitimate aspirations to fully belong to Malaysia which respect their cultures and customs ignored, and democratic avenues to achieve these aspirations suppressed, then the Barisan Nasional would be the hand-maidens of the Malayan Communist Party is creating for the MCP a sizable popular support.

In a nutshell, if the Barisan Nasional want to defeat the communist challenge, respect the wishes and aspirations of all races and classes of Malaysians, and give every Malaysia a full sense of belonging to Malaysia.

If the Malayan Communist Party gain increasing support, of even if it should succeed initially in neutralising the people’s support to the Government, then the Barison Nasional government must shoulder the full responsibility for its refusal to adopt policies and practices to win the hearts and minds of the people.