Speech Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the inaugural meeting of the DAP Education Bureau Chinese education committee at DAP PJ Headquarters on Monday, 9th Feb. 1981 at 5.30 p.m.
DAP’s task in the 1980s is to fight for the legitimate and proper place of Chinese education in Malaysia without fear of repression and to convince all Malaysians that this is neither chauvinist nor communist in character
Last week, former New Straits Times managing editor, Samad Ismail, went on television for the second time prior to his release from detention and said among other things, that “In Malaysia, the demand for Chinese rights to education, the language and cultural issues, were exploited by the Communists to cause racial tension.”
The Malayan Communist Party over the decades had used a variety of issues to try to gain popular support, whether it be the fight against British colonialism or the attack on poverty in the country. But this does not make all anti-colonialists or critics or opponents of a system which allowed the rich to become richer and the poor poorer to become communists or further the cause of the communists.
What is deplorable about the television statement by Samad Ismail is the implication and accusation that all those who stand up for the legitimate and proper place of Chinese education, for instance, are “wittingly or unwittingly’ furthering the communist cause.
This implication and accusation must be repudiated and condemned, for it is not only untrue and a distortion, but even more dangerous, if allowed to gain ground,would provide the basis for extremists in authority to demand a campaign of repression against all those who stand up for the legitimate and Constitutional rights of Chinese education, language and culture as ‘communists’ or’ pro-communist’.
Our two DAP MPs, Sdr. Chian Heng Kai (MP for Batu Gajah) and Sdr. Chan Kok Kit ( MP for Sungei Besi) have already become the victims of the mentality. The Government does not have a shred of evidence against both Sdr. Chian Heng Kai and Sdr. Chan Kok Kit to show that they had links whatsoever with the Communist or the United Front. All that the Police have against them are their statement and speeches over the years to expound the DAP policy on Chinese education, language and culture in a multi-racial context.
I have told the Advisory board, when representing Sdr. Chian Heng Kai, many times that if both Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit are being kept in detention solely on the ground that they had articulated the DAP’s policy of Chinese education, and therefore by implication, “ wittingly or
unwittingly” furthered the communist cause, then I myself should be in detention and longer, for on behalf of the DAP, I both inside and outside
Parliament stood form and loud for the legitimate place of Chinese education in Malaysia.
Samad Ismail’s television statement is ominous and may herald a new campaign of repression against Malaysians who are prepared to stand up for the basic and constitution right of Chinese education in Malaysia, on the allegation of furthering the communist cause.
The DAP, which is our 15 years, had stood unswervingly and unflinchingly for the legitimate and constitution place of mother-tongue education, has a very important task in the 1980s.
Firstly, we must continue to provide leadership in the political arena to stand up family and bravely for the legitimate and constitution rights of Chinese education, language and culture in a multi-racial Malaysia, regardless of repression, intimidation or campaign of hate which may be directed against us.
Secondly, we must convince all Malaysians that the aspiration for Chinese education, language and culture to secure their proper Malaysian place is not a communist or a chauvinist cause.
We in the DAP are opposed to a communist Malaya or Malaysia, for we reject that the communist system is applicable or appropriate to multi-racial Malaysia, we want a democratic socialist Malaysia, and democratic is totally incompatible with communist rule.
The DAP’s fight for the proper Constitutional place of Chinese education, language and culture in Malaysia is part of our national effort to help define the Malaysian nation as a multi-racial, multi-lingula, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation, where Malaysia will become the plural society examplar in the world.
Or to put it in another way, the DAP’s policy on cultural pluralism where the various language, culture and races co-exist and flourish on one common entity in the context of the Constitutional guarantees is the only road to salvation for Malaysia in the 1980s.
The Chinese education committee of the DAP must in the 1980s help to define the issue in the coming decade, to make more and more Malaysians understand and accept that the protection and advancement of Chinese education, language and culture in the Malaysia context is not “wittingly or unwittingly” to help the communist cause, but on the contrary, to make a great contribution to nation building in defining the plural characteristics of a multi-racial Malaysian nation.
The most effective way to deny the communist from gaining any advantage form the issues of Chinese education, language and culture, is to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of Malaysia Chinese with regard to the rightful and constitutional place of Chinese education, language and culture in Malaysian nation building.