Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at a welcome-home dinner given by DAP officials and members in Selangor and Federal Territory at Transport Workers’ Union Hall, Petaling Jaya, on Saturday, 1st August 1981 at 8 p.m.
Malaysians will decide at the next general elections whether they want political leaders and elected representatives to be like Chiang Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit or like Chan Teck Chan.
Tonight, we are gathered here to honour Sdr. Chan Kok Kit and Sdr. Chian Heng Kai, who have gone through a real test of political character, integrity and stamina, and proved that ‘real gold is not afraid of furnace fire’.
Both Chan Kok Kit and Chian Heng Kai were detained under the Internal Security Act for 4 years and 9 months on trumped-up charges, and their unconditional release is a full vindication of their innocence of government charges that they had aided and abetted the Communist United Front activities.
Sdr. Chan Kok Kit and Sdr. Chian Heng Kai were detained because of their espousal of the constitutional position and rights of mother-tongue education, and in particular Chinese education, in Malaysia. Both of them had sacrificed nearly five years of the best part of their lives for the cause of Chinese education. So long as there are Chang Kok Kits and Chian Heng Kais in the political arena who are prepared to make sacrifices for their political beliefs, then so long will Chinese education in Malaysia be protected from attempts by extremists who have no love for it.
However, the Chan Kok Kits and Chian Heng Kais are only to be found in the DAP. There is not a single leader whether in the MCA or Gerakan who could even measure up to be half a Chan Kok Kit or Chian Heng Kai.
In fact, recent months have shown how opportunistic and unprincipled are the Barisan leaders in the MCA and Gerakan. MPs and State Assemblymen are openly approached, to be bought and sold, at prices ranging from $300,000 to $500,000. Political parties who are prepared to buy MPs and State Assemblymen are as dishonorable as MP and SAs who are prepared to be bought.
Chan Kok Kit and Chian Heng Kai’s sacrifice and political steadfastness shines out in such a dishonorable barter for MPs, State Assemblymen, officials and even members. They have demonstrated that there are political leaders who could not be bought with money or cowed with intimidation and repression.
In the next general elections, the people in Malaysia must decide whether they want their political leaders and elected representatives to be men like Chan Kok Kit and Chian Heng Kai, who are prepared to pay and price and bear any burden for their political beliefs and the people’s interests, or like Chan Teck Chan, who is prepared to betray the Party, the people and political principles for selfish reasons.
Chan Teck Chan was fond of saying that one cannot pass judgement on a person, until his coffin has been nailed; but in his case, the people have already passed judgement on him without having to wait for his coffin to be nailed.