DAP calls on the new Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to present a new human right image for Malaysia

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, when declaring open the Penang State DAP Ordinary Convention 1981 at Hotel Merlim Conference Room, Penang on Sunday,19th July 1981 at 10 a.m.

DAP calls on the new Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to present a new human right image for Malaysia in the country and the world by releasing political detainees and to liberalise the various repressive laws inimical to the freedom of speech, assembly and association

The human rights record of Malaysia is not a good one, and in fact, the Malaysian government engages in a running battle with the Nobel-peace Prize human right organisation, Amnesty International, over the human rights position in the country. The Amnesty International country report on the human rights situation in Malaysia has been banned in Malaysia.

Recently, more and more laws like Universities and University Collages Act and the Societies (Amendment) Act have been passed, which imposes great restrictions on the freedom of speech, assembly and association as enshrined in the Malaysia Constitution.

On 16th December 1966, the United Nations General Assembly, by 106votes to none, adopted the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights under which, each State Party undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognised in the Covenant without distinction of any kind, such as rave, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Among the rights recognized in the Covenant are the right to liberty and security of person; the right, when deprived of liberty, to be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the of a State; the right to liberty of movement within the territory of a State; the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; the right to hold opinion without interference; the right to peaceful assembly; the right to freedom lf association; the right to the protection of minorities, etc.

Although the Covenant was opened for signature and ratification on Dec.19, 1966, Malaysia ad not ratified the Convenant after some 15 years.

The human rights record and image of Malaysia must be improved, for respect for human rights is a pre-condition for democracy.

The DAP calls on the new Prime Minister, Dr, Mahathir Mohamed, to review and improve on the human rights record and image of Malaysia locally and abroad in conformity with Malaysia,s adherence to a working democratic system.

The betterment of the human rights record and image of Malaysia should be achieved through the release of ISA detainees, and in particular political leaders like the two DAP MPs, Sdr.Chian Heng Kai MP for Batu Gajah and Sdr. Chan Kok Kit, MPfor Sungai Besi, and the PSRM National Chairman, Kassim Ahmad, and the liberalisation of the various restrictive and repressive laws inimical to the full flowering of freedom of speech, assembly and association in Malaysia.

The DAP proposes that a Royal Commission on Human Rights in Malaysia comprising representatives from all political parties and also eminent Malaysian from different cross-sections of our society should be established to study the question of human rights situation since Merdaka 1957, and to make recommendations as to human rights protection for the 1980s and 1990s.

Human rights must not be regarded as a luxury for Western societies, but must be accepted as an important element which will determine the success of building an open, free and united plural Malaysian society. Lee San Choon’s knuckling under to the pressures of extremism is the principal cause of drowning of the voices of reason and moderation in high policy circles.

On Friday, the MCA President, Datuk San Choon, attacked me for proposing that all MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs should join with DAP MPs to move a motion in Parliament to censure Haji Suhaimi for his extremist and chauvinist speech and demands at the UMNO Youth Conference last month.

Datuk Lee accused me of trying to destroy the ‘traditional bond and close relationship between MCA and UMNO.

This is not the first, nor last time, where instead of denouncing extremism, Datuk Lee denounced those who dare to stand up against extremism.

I still remember vividly last year, when Haji Shuhaimi Kamaruddin called for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools, and I called a meeting of societies and organisations to demonstrate their condemnation of Haji Suhaimi’s demand, and our Deputy Secretary-General, Sdr.Lee Lam Thye, lodged a police report against Haji Suhaimi for making a seditious speech, Datuk Lee San Choon not only did not add his and the MCA’s voice to this condemnation of Suhaimi demand, but he denounced me for being extremist.

So by the MCA leaders’ logic, those who make extremist and chauvinist demands are not extremist; but those who oppose such extremist and chauvinism are! it is such knuckling down to extremist pressures by Datuk Lee San Choon and the MCA leaders which are the principle causes for the sorry position in our country today where the voices of reason and moderation appear to be in danger of being drowned by the sirens of extremism.

Datuk Lee San Choon said the MCA leaders were not concerned over statements by some politicians questioning the principle and rationale of the New Economic Policy, and that problems have always been solved by discussion and consultation.

the UMBC is an interesting case in point. when Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd. was set to acquire 51% control of the UMBC, and Haji Suhaimi Publicly announced UMNO youth opposition to such acquisition by the Multi-Purpose Holdings, low-level MC leaders make fierce speeches and statements about not compromising on a matter of principle. At that time, the few traitors in the DAP, like Seow Hung Khim, Chin Nyuk Soo and Goh Lim Eam, Chan Teck Chan even used the UMBC case as a justification for their betrayal of the DAP on the ground that the chinese’ economic position has become so threatened that the time has come for Chinese to unite as Chinese under the MCA banner.

But have the joining of the Seow Hung Khims, Chin Nyuk Soos, Goh Lim Eams and Chan Teck Chans, shored up the MCA and Chinese economic position by ensuring that the Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd. succeed in continuing with its 51% acquisition of UMBC?

None at all. It is open secret that the Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd.’s have its 51% reduced to 41%. In fact, in overall terms, the 70% UMBC Chinese control before the ill-fated Multi-Purpose Holdings acquisition had finally been reduced to around 50%!

There is no great differences between the MCA and Gerakan when we consider the comment by the Gerakan Deputy President, Datuk Paul Leong, that his party would not want to ‘waste time’ on Haji Suhaimi. It is probably more true that Haji Suhaimi and UMNO Youth do not want to waste time on Gerakan because they could completely disregard Gerakan and do what they want!

I really cannot understand the mentality and thinking of Datuk Lee the MCA and Gerakan leaders. They seem to take the position that to condemn Haji Suhaimi for his extremist demands would undermine their political positions in the Barisan Nasional.

I do not think Haji Suhaimi, or for that matter, other UMNO leaders would have such reservation if, for instance, a top MCA or Gerakan leader had made extremist demands and speeches.

For instance, if Datuk Neo Yee Pan (who like Suhaimi is a Vice President of their respective pretties) or Dr. Goh Cheng Teik (again like Suhaimi, a Deputy Minister) had made extremist demands which gravely upset the Malays, I am sure that not only Haji Suhaimi, but other top UMNO leaders, would pull no punches in denouncing and condemning Datuk Neo Yee Pan or Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, including demanding, and probably successfully, for their sack as Cabinet Ministers!

Why should this be the case on the side, and not for both sides?

This is where extremism and chauvinism of the Suhaimi variety could find sustenance and gain ground, for there are no voices of moderation and reason inside the Barisan National who are prepared to make themselves heard, felt and even respected!

The DAP regards it as of paramount importance that when extremism of any form rears its ugly head, it must be smacked down, as a deterrent against such extremism gaining momentum and strength.

If extremism openly expressed is allowed a field day, it will also encourage others who nurse such extremist views but who have so far kept it to themselves to go public and start snowballing movement.

This is particularly the case when we see Haji Suhaimi rising higher and higher with each extremist demand. Last year, after his demand for the implementation of Clause 21(2) of the Education Act, he was appointed Deputy Minister for Agriculture. This year, after his demand to slow down the economic growth of non-Malays, he has gone up another step higher to become Deputy Education Minister.

The suggestion that I wanted to destroy the ‘traditional bond and close relationship between MCA and UMNO” is too ridiculous to give attention, for what is important is the preparedness by everyone to stand up and denounce extremism when expressed, regardless of coming from whatever quarter or person. If not, we will then very soom become ransom to such extremist and chauvinist demands.

This is why when in 1978, Sabah MP Mark Koding spoke in Parliament wanting to close down Chinese and Tamil primary schools, the DAP reacted immediately in condemnation, and I even instructed the Chan Teck Chan, then DAP MP for Kota Melaka, to lodge a police report. Mak Koding has now been charged in court for sedition after some three years.

The battle for a Malaysian Malaysia cannot be advanced by timorous and fearful souls who dare not speak up against extremism for fear of losing their Ministerial of Deputy Ministerial positions.

The DAP will continue, as in the past 15 years, to stand up for the basic rights of Malaysians of all races, and regardless of the price we have to pay in terms of personal freedom or hardships, speak up and fight against extremism of any form.