Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leaders, DAP Secreary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, to the Penang DAP State Committee in Penang on Saturday, 3rd Jan. 1980 at 7 p.m.
Project 1983 in Penang will depend on the emergence of a discipline, united and cohesive DAP in Penang
The DAP’s narrow defeat in the Pengkalan Kota by-election, and the events preceding and following the by-election, should be a costly lesson to the DAP, particularly in Penang, of the harm we can inflict on ourselves when we allow our internal difference and problems to run riot, in utter disregard of Party interests.
With the unprincipled Barisan Nasional parties waiting in the wings to exploit every existing or non-existing issue to divide and undermind the DAP, the only consequence of such unrestrained party infighting is to cause great damage to the DAP.
The DAP’s Project 1983 in Penang, to make a serious bid for Penang state power in the general election, and which was shelved after the Pengkalan Kota by-election defeat, will noe depend on the restoration of party discipline, unity and solidarity in Penang, and the emergence of a disciplined, united and cohesive DAP in Penang.
Every serious-minded political party aims to have its principles and a policy translated into practice, and on the most effective way is through winning power. However, there is nothing more fatal to a political party than to have power when it is not ready for power.
The DAP leadership must therefore be absolutely satisfied that the DAP in Penang is ready for power, because major reverses and failures after assuming power will not only irreparable destroy the DAP’s future in Penang, but throughout the whole of Malaysia.
One of the pre-conditions of being ready for power is the existence of a united, disciplined and cohesive political movement in Penang. If even before winning power, we are already hell-bent on carrying out party infighting to the extent of destroying the Party, I shudder to think of the even greater damages that could would result from a position of being a ruling party in a State, where a Barisan-Nasional Federal government would do its utmost to seek to divide and destroy the DAP.
The next six to 12 months, must be devoted to building a disciplined, united and cohesive DAP in Penang. this is the first pre-condition that the DAP Penang must satisfy before we can seriously proceed with our Project 1983 in Penang.
This does not mean that Penang DAP must remain inactive until the restoration of party discipline, united and solidarity. Penang DAP must continue with all the preparations of policy alternatives which the DAP would want to implement on assuming State power, and the problems
and challenges the DAP will face on forming a state government must be anticipated and prepared for.
DAP must be ready for next general election in 24 months
Time, however, is not on our side. The next general election, both Parliament and State, may be held in 24 months’ time, i.e. late 1982 or early 1983.
In the coming general election, more than ever, the Barisan Nasional would employ to their utmost their ‘secret-weapons’, the ‘Politics of Money’, to get the voters to forget about their rights and that of their children in return for instant, short-term material benefits.
The Party must, in the 24 month ahead of us, work out a Defensive-Offensive strategy , to defend every single one of DAP’s Parliamentary and State Assembly seats, and to win over sears currently held by the Barisan.
The Defensive/Offensive strategy must involve raising the politic consciousness of the people to understand the basic nation-building principle the DAP is struggling for. The events in 1980, where there were calls for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the Education Act 1961 to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools; demand for the raising of the 30% bumiputera participation in commerce and industry under the New Economic Policy to 51%; the Bintulu Development Corporation regulation that application for conversion of title and sub-division must have 50% bumiputera ownership before they would be considered; religious fanaticism; rampant corruption; trampling of human right; should be eye-openers for the people that these developments intimately affect the lives of everyone of us and our children.
The Defective/Offensive strategy must also involve a review and upgrading of the standard of performance and service of all DAP MPs and State Assemblymen, so that they could more effectively represent the Part and the people.
To sum up, I see the Penang DAP’s tasks in the next six to 12 months as:
1. Restoration of Party discipline, unity and solidarity;
2. Preparation of DAP’s Policy Alternative for Penaang;
3. Political Mobilisation of the People of Penang; and
4. Upgrading of the performance and service of DAP MPs and State Assemblymen.