by Dr Chen Man Hin, National Chairman of Democratic Action Party, Member of Parliament (Seremban) 1969-1978, State Assemblyman for Rahang, Negeri Sembilan 1965-1978
THE Democratic Action Party contested its first general elections in 1969 and won 13 Parliamentary and 31 State Assembly seats. In the 1974 General Elections, nine DAP Members of Parliament and 23 State Assemblymen were returned.
In the last decade, the DAP has emerged as the most consistent and out-spoken critic of the National Front Government, both inside and outside Parliament, on its failure to build a multi-racial Malaysian nation where the focus of loyalty especially for the post-Merdeka generation is nation rather than race, class exploitation, corruption, violation of human rights, undemocratic practices, government mal-administration and abuse of power.
The DAP, however, suffers from a press policy of media black-out, particularly in the English and Maay language newspapers. Although this book is a compilation of some of the Parliamentary speeches of DAP Secretary-General and Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang, Malaysians will be reading them for the first time, as the press either balcked out DAP speeches on fundamental nation-building questions or dismissed them in a few paragraphs.
This book serves a dual purpose.
Firstly, to break the media black-out and provide access to Malaysians to the arguments, ideas and policies propounded by the DAP in Parliament, for democracy pre-supposes an informed electorate.
Secondly, it constitutes a record of DAP’s parliamentary performance, although it is not a complete record. The speeches of other DAP Members of Parliament have not been reproduced, not all of Lim Kit Siang’s major speeches and exposes.
Looking back, the DAP as a party has never flinched from our political responsibilities and commitments to speak up for the people, even when Party leaders had to pay a heavy personal price for their political beliefs.
Lim Kit Siang was detained without trial for 18 months under the Internal Security Act from May 1969 to October 1970. He was again arrested on April 23 this year and charged with five counts under the Official Secrets Act 1971 which carry a total maximum of 31 years’ jail sentence on conviction. Arrested at the same time is DAP National Organising Secretary and Editor of Rocket, P. Patto, who was also charged under the Official Secrets Act. The subject matter of these charges was Lim Kit Siang’s public questioning of the wisdom and propriety of the Royal Malaysian Navy purchase of four Swedish fast patrol crafts, which price was subsequently reduced by $9 million because of the pressures exerted by Sdr Lim.
At this moment, two DAP leaders, DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Gajah, Chian Heng Kai and National Assistant Treasurer, Chan Kok Kit, are in detention in the Kamunting Detention Camp. They have committed no offence, apart from exercising their rights as citizens to seek to bring about changes by constitutional means and through the democratic process.
Many other DAP leaders have suffered legal persecution by way of prosecutions. In the political history of Malaysia, no political party has so many of its leaders and members so systematically prosecuted by the government as the DAP.
The road ahead for the DAP is no less arduous. In the process, there will be those who will fall by the wayside, either through weak of will or short of stamina. Others part ways because they have become disillusioned with the democratic and constitutional struggle, regarding it as futile and a façade.
The DAP was formed by patriotic Malaysians in 1966 to blaze out the path towards a democratic socialist, Malaysian Malaysia. DAP leaders and members realised from the beginning that ours would not be a bed of roses but a crown of thorns for we are confronting an unholy alliance of compradore-feudalist interests compounded by the most shameless pandering to chauvinism to perpetuate their interests.
Whatever the trials and tribulations which the DAP had experience or will have to face, we take heart and draw fresh inspiration from the continuing support of the people in our common cause for a democratic socialist, Malaysian Malaysia.
May 27, 1978