On Fan Yew Teng’s Resignation

By DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, on Sunday, May 28, 1978;

On Fan Yew Teng’s Resignation

I have not yet received Fan Yew Tang‘s letter of resignation from the Party, apart from press reports.

Fan Yew Tang was one of the DAP leaders victimised and persecuted for leadership in Opposition politics, spending five years from 1975-75 in a section trial which went up twice to the Privy Council, and which ended in conviction with its concomitant consequences of disqualification as a Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman.

Fan Yew Tang has been away from Malaysia for the last two-and-a-half years since November 1975. When I met him in London and Cambridge I July 1977, I ask him to return to Malaysia and to help organise the Party. He expressed disillusionment with the democratic process in Malaysia, and spoke of the futility of the constitutional political struggle. He said party organising work is not like selling ice-cream, and needs conviction before it could be undertaken.

Fan Yew Tang is a good example of a Malaysian nationalist who, because of the repressive actions he had personally suffered, has been driven into disenchantment with the constitutional and democratic process. More and more Malaysians are in fact joining the ranks of those who see the democratic and constitutional process as a fraud and futility, because of the absence of credible outlets for peaceful, democratic changes in our society of for meaningful expression of dissent and criticism. This is also the major reason for the exodus of professionals abroad.

Fan Yew Tang’s resignation from the Party has not come, therefore, as a complete surprise to me or other Party leaders except for the timing and the mode of resignation.

I feel sad at this political parting of ways. I feel sadder that V, to find an honourable insinuations and even venom, which I leave to him to reflect at other times as to whether there is validity or justification.

I reject his contention that at the Tokyo Socialist International Party Leaders’ Conference last December, I had taken the stand that (1) repression in Malaysia is to be condemned but not in Singapore; (2) that the Internal Security Act in Malaysia and Singapore is a ‘necessary evil’. Like other arguments of his in his resignation letter, these are things which Fan Yew Tang has chosen to read into my speech and to provide the basis for his attack on me and the DAP. As many of his attacks are base on these self-drawn and unfounded conclusions, there is no need to refer to the arguments for the simple reason that they are based on false assumptions.

The DAP has not differentiated between Malaysia and Singapore in our condemnation of the Internal Security Act. The DAP’s stand against the ISA was adopted at the 1971 Party Congress on my initiative. I am personally and publicly called for the release of detainees like Said Zahari, Dr. Lim Hock Siew, Dr. Poh Soo Kai and Ho Piao, who were arrested in ‘Operation Cold Store’ in Singapore in 1963. In March this year, in Parliament, during the debate on the Royal Address, I spoke of the need for an ASEAN Commission on Human Rights to protect and advance human rights in the ASEAN countries, and to bring to an end the detention-without-trial laws like the Internal Security Act in Malaysia, Singapore and other ASEAN countries.

Fan Yew Tang as chosen to misrepresent what I said in Tokyo, alleging that I had advocated PAP’s re-admission into the Socialist International. For the record, in Tokyo, the Japanese Democratic Socialist Party had proposed a review of the case of the PAP membership in the Socialist International. In my comments, I said that this question merit deeper study. I had expressed the view that in 1976 “it might have been more apt and beneficial if the Socialist International, before taking the extreme measure of considering the expulsion of the Singapore PAP, to have made a deeper study of the problems confronting democratic socialists in non-communist South East Asia. If influence is to be applied on Singapore PAP in the area of detention without trial, greater effect might be expected from its membership inside the Socialist International, rather than outside.”

If Fan Yew Tang is not happy with any political question in the DAP, the right and proper thing for him to do is to present his views at the Party Congress. In fact, when I met him in Cambridge last year, I suggested that he return to Malaysia and I offered to convene a Special Congress for him to present his views about the fatality of the democratic constitutional struggle.

Fan Yew Tang has not availed himself of this party avenue, but chose instead to mount an attack on DAP which in many instance were unfounded and based on inaccurate reports to him, regardless of the harmful effect on the LAP electorally, in view of the nearness of the general elections. His action has made the enemies of the DAP, the Barisan Nasional o the one hand, and the mosquito opposition parties whose sole him is to ‘subvert and destroy’ the DAP, very happy.

It is Fan Yew Tang’s prerogative to act as he had decided, and I wish him the best in whatever new endeavours he has embarked upon.