Time Bombs in Malaysia: Post-script

(When this book was in the press, news came that Fan Yew Teng had announced his resignation from the party accompanied by a long tract giving the reasons for his resignations. Reproduced here is the press statement which I made on May 28, 1978 on Fan’s resignation – LKS)

On Fan Yew Teng’s resignation

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

Fan Yew Teng was one the DAP leaders victimised and persecuted for leadership in Opposition politics, spending five years from 1971-75 in a sedition 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 Teng has been away from Malaysia for the last two-and-a-half years since November 1975. When I met him in London and Cambridge in July 1977, I asked 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 work was not like selling ice cream, and needed conviction before it could be undertaken.

Fan Yew Teng is a good example if 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 or for meaningful expression of dissent and criticism. This is also the major reason for the exodus of professionals abroad.

Fan Yew Teng’s resignation from the Party ahs 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 fee sadder that Fan Yew Teng, to find an honourable political exit from Menglembu and the political arena in Malaysia, has chosen the DAP as a whipping boy.

It shocks me deeply that Fan Yew Teng’s resignation letter is so personal, reeking with dishonourable insinuation 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, there are things which Fan Yew Teng 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 based 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 had 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 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 Teng has 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 merited 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 Teng 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 futility of the democratic constitutional struggle.

Fan Yew Teng has not availed himself of this party venue, but chosen instead to mount an attack on the DAP which in many instances were unfounded and based on inaccurate reports to him, regardless of the harmful effect on the DAP electorally, in view of the nearness of the general elections. His action has made the enemies of the DAP, the National Front on the one hand, and the mosquito opposition parties whose sole aim is to “subvert and destroy” the DAP, very happy.

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

Lim Kit Siang