Call on Malaysian youths, and in particular Malaysian Chinese youths

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, as Adviser of Petaling Jaya Branch of GBBM at the oath-taking ceremony of the PJ Branch officials of Pertubuhan Gerakan Belia Bersatu Malaysia at PJ Hawkers’ Association, No. 27 Jalan 10, PJ on Saturday, 18th August 1979 at 8pm.

Call on Malaysian youths, and in particular Malaysian Chinese youths, to step forward and play their full role in shaping Malaysia’s future by defending Malaysia’s plural character, and fighting, against all forms of exploitation, intolerance injustice and corruption.

Malaysia is a youthful nation, not only in terms of our national history but also in terms of the age group, as the majority of Malaysians are young people.

Malaysia as a nation in which all Malaysians, regardless of race, language, religion or culture, is the center of unity for all, subordinating racial or sub-group loyalties and ties, is still awaiting realisation, for after 22 years of Merdeka, Malaysians are still very much separated and divided along both racial and class lines.

Malaysian youths of all racial groups must play an active role in creating this transcending Malaysian consciousness subordinating racial ties and loyalties, for if the young generation of Malaysians think of themselves more in racial terms rather than Malaysian terms, then nation building in Malaysia has little hope of success.

In my view, the success of Malaysian nation building will depend on two factors: Firstly, the ability of Malaysian youths to become more Malaysian-minded than their parents and to accept the fact that all races, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans or Kadazans, must make an effort to move away from strictly racial pre-occupations to national and Malaysian lines of thought. Secondly, the preparedness of Malaysian youths to stand up and defend the plural character of Malaysian society from the extremists and fanatics who want to impose their racial or chauvinistic ideas on the people and destroy the very basis of Malaysia’s multi-racialism, multi0lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.

Malaysian youths today will now decide whether in a the next decade or come Year 2001, they will live in a Malaysia where the various races are closer to each other with greater inter-racial understanding and harmony, and in a society where there is justice, equality, freedom and decency; or whether they will live in a country where the people are deeply and bitterly divided into antagonistic races, and poisoned by gross exploitation, denial of human rights and plagued by corruption and intolerance.

A society is never static. Either the forces of ras reason, justice and good continue to grow in strength and influence, or the forces of intolerance, inequality and evil will triumph.

Malaysians cannot be indifferent to their own fate in five or ten year’s time, or in the fate of the next generation. A decade or a generation ago, those who are now Vietnamese refugees were indifferent to their own fate and future, believing that the future would be looked after if they make hay daily while the sun shines. Hundreds of thousands have paid a terrible price for their indifference and apathy a decade or a generation ago.

We are all masters of our own future, for good or bad. If our future is miserable or harrowing, it is because we allow our future to be so by abdicating from our responsibility to help shape the country’s development and destiny.

I therefore call on all Malaysian youths and in particular Malaysian Chinese youths who had all along shown less interest in youth organisations, to step forward to play their full role in shaping Malaysia’s future by defending Malaysia’s plural character, and in fighting against all forms of exploitation, injustice, intolerance and corruption.

We must be prepared to stand up for our rights and our convictions, for the way for those who believe in truth and justice is not a bed of roses but a crown of thorns. They will be put through many tests and undergo many forms of pressures. But as it has been said that the fire that melts the butter tempers the steel’, it is a test of a man’s character and a nation’s character whether the breaks under pressure or excel even better under pressure.

I wish the Petaling Jaya branch of the PGBB an eventful term, where it could help in arousing the awareness of more youths to their rights and responsibilities, educate them to cherish freedoms and justice, and inculcate them with the character to stand up for their rights and the country’s future, even if they have individually to pay a heavy personal price.