Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Dap Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Solidarity Dinner at Kampong Tasek, Ampang, Selangor, on Saturday, 11th August 1979 at 8pm.
Key to successful nation building – to confer on all classes and races an equal stake under the Malaysian sun.
Malaysia would have completed 22 years of her independent nationhood at the end of this month, but the creation of a united, Malaysian people is still as distant as Merdeka Day in 1957. We are still a Malaysian nation recognised internationally as a sovereign country, but not yet a nation of Malaysians, with her people regarding themselves first and foremost as Malaysians rather than as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Kadazans, etc.
This has become an ever more urgent problem, with the looming war clouds in Indo-China, and the threats to the stability and security of non-Communist South East Asian countries.
National leaders must give more and more serious attention to accelerating the process of Malaysian nation building, if we as a nation are to develop the inner resilience and cohesion to withstand external threats and challenges.
Malaysia cannot be safe as long as her people continue to be Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, and have not yet become all Malaysians subordinating sub-group ties and links. Once the people of Malaysia have all become Malaysians, in thought and action, in their internal relations with fellow citizens and in response to external challenges, then Malaysia need not be afraid of her future regardless of threats from any quarter.
The fundamental perquisite to successful Malaysian nation building is to confer to all races and classes an equal stake under the Malaysian sun. As a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation, the legitimate aspirations of all races and classes are an integral part of Malaysian aspirations, and must be given respect and recognition.
Malaysia, for instance, cannot succeed in the task of nation building if the Malays, or the Chinese, or the Indians, or the Ibans or the Kadazans feel that they have been discriminated against or trodden upon, or where the legitimate aspirations of one racial group is regarded as rather un-Malaysian, while the legitimate aspirations of another racial group are regarded as the only nation and Malaysian aspirations possible.
In recent weeks, the MCA Ministers and leaders have suddenly become very vocal in thumping their chests as the champions of the Malaysian Chinese, and secondly, in scolding the Malaysian Chinese for not being as politically conscious as the Malays, of not being politically united, blaming this for the multitude of problems confronting Malaysian Chinese.
Actually in retrospect, if we look back at the history of Malaysia from pre-Merdeka, to Merdeka and the present, it can be said that one of the biggest obstacles to Malaysian nation building had been the MCA, which had persistently misrepresented the legitimate aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese.
MCA Ministers and leaders misrepresented to the UMNO- which one MCA Minister said in Malacca was a political fact that UMNO is the dominant component party in the National Front – and the Government that the legitimate aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese in economic, political, social, educational and cultural fields, are the irresponsible manifestations of chauvinism of a few, and that the overwhelming majority of the Malaysian Chinese support the MCA and do not subscribe to these legitimate aspirations.
In reality, the MCA has lost all legitimacy to represent anyone whether in Parliament or in Cabinet, for the simple reason that MCA Ministers and MP are elected not on their own party merits and strength, but on the charity and generosity of other parties!
The MCA claims to have 400,000 members, but in the last general elections in July 1978, it is doubtful that the MCA had been able to collect 200,000 votes on its own!
This persistent and unceasing misrepresentation of the legitimate aspirations of Malaysian Chinese is not only a disservice to Malaysian Chinese, but to Malaysian nation, for it is a major cause preventing all Malaysians to recognize that the legitimate aspirations of all races in the country must be given national respect and recognition.
MCA leaders are neither leaders of their community nor leaders of the nation and for them to continue to misrepresent that they are both, can only delay and obstruct the necessary process to Malaysianise thinking and policies in all areas of our national life.
As MCA Leaders are so keen to be Ministers although they have lost all legitimacy to represent anybody, they should at least be frank and truthful in Parliament and Cabinet, and declare clearly that their views and ideas have no national support whatsoever!
I would therefore call on the MCA to stop misrepresenting the legitimate aspirations of Malaysian Chinese in Parliament and Cabinet, for the interest of a healthy and proper development of Malaysian identity and consciousness, and in the interests of all Malaysians of this present and future generation.
MCA Ministers and leaders are fond of blaming Malaysian Chinese for lack of political unity, pointing to the unity of the Malays behind UMNO. I do not wish to discuss the merit or demerit of this comparison, but only to point out that what MCA Ministers and leaders are crying about is actually the lack of political support of Malaysian Chinese for the MCA.
If we look at the 1978 general election results, we will find the Malaysian Chinese voters had a high percentage of voting, demonstrating their political awareness, but the overwhelming majority of these votes did not go to MCA.
The MCA Ministers and leaders are therefore barking up the wrong tree when they claim that the Malaysian Chinese are to blame for their problems because they are not united. It would be more correct to say that the Malaysian Chinese problems stem from their being misrepresented by the MCA all these years!
MCA, and of course Gerakan, Ministers and leaders are fond of defending their actions under the cover of ‘Political Realities ’.
For instance, MCA and Gerakan leaders have explained that they opposed Merdeka University proposal because of the ‘political realities’ of Malaysia, meaning the distribution of political power in the country.
‘Political realities’, they argued, would not permit Merdeka University proposal to become a fact.
I have no doubt that if the Merdeka University had been mooted 20 years ago, it would have been established already, and yearly producing graduates to contribute to national development and progress. Why then, should ‘political realities’ twenty years ago permit the establishment of a Merdeka University, but ‘political realities’ twenty years later would act?
Or if there are those who dispute that a Merdeka University proposal twenty years ago would have been permitted without opposition or obstruction, we can look at the position of Chinese secondary schools.
If 20 years ago, ‘political realities’ make the government subsidise Chinese secondary schools from taxpayers’ funds, why is it that ‘political realities’ now would not allow Government to subsidise or finance Chinese secondary schools in the country?
If ‘political realities’ have changed for the worse, then the MCA and the Gerakan must bear responsibility for it!
In the final analysis, what is of paramount importance is whether the aspirations are legitimate and in full conformity with Constitutional guarantees and stipulations. If those aspirations are legitimate and in full conformity with Constitutional guarantees and stipulations, then arguments of ‘political realities’ permitting or not permitting a certain matter should not arise – for otherwise, this tantamounts to re-writing the Constitution even without a formal amendment in Parliament!