Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at a welcome home dinner given by DAP officials, members and supporters in Perak in Ipoh on Monday, 3rd August 1981 at 8 p.m.
Call on the Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, that the authorities should stop regarding defenders of Chinese education as communists or pro-communists, but to recognize the legitimate and constitutional position of Chinese education and its defenders
When Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit were detained under the Internal Security Act on Nov. 3, 1967, the government said they were detained in connectin with their involvement with communist united front activities.
Both Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit had throughout their detention and appearances before the Advisory Boards vigorously denied any involvement with communist united front activities.
In fact, in Parliament on Oct. 27, 1977, I said that if the Government could furnish the DAP with the evidence of their involvement with communist united front activities, the DAP would expel Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit; and that if not, the government should release them unconditionally immediately.
Both Sdr. Chian Heng Kai and Sdr. Chan Kok Kit are democratic socialists who believe in the DAP political struggle to bring about political changes by democratic, constitutional and peaceful means.
Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit were detained because of their defence of the constitutional position of Chinese education in the country, whether it be with regard to the eternal preservation of the character of Chinese primary schools, the right of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools to expand and even receive government grants, and the establishment of Merdeka University.
The charges proffered against Heng Kai and Kok Kit giving as the grounds for their detention under the Internal Security Act were all about their speeches in defence of Chinese education in the country form encroachments and erosion.
I had, during the detention of Heng Kai and Kok Kit, more than once told the authorities concerned with their detention that their espousal of Chinese education is fully in conformity with the DAP’s open and well-known stand on Chinese education. I told the authorities that what Heng Kai and Kok Kit said were not only fully lawful and constitutional, but were continue to be advocated by the DAP and myself inside and outside Parliament.
In fact, I remember that I had occasion to tell the authorities just on the eve of my moving a motion in Parliament on the Mahathir Cabinet Review Report on Education, where I spoke on the legitimate and constitutional aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese about Chinese education. If Heng Kai and Kok Kit were being detained just because of their stand on Chinese education, then all the DAP leaders must also go in under the ISA, including myself, as I would be reiterating the same issues with even greater emphasis in Parliament.
I call on the Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to ensure that the authorities stop regarding defenders of Chinese education as communists or pro-communists, or involved with communist united front activities. The authorities should recognize the legitimate and constitutional position of Chinese education and its defenders, as something completely unrelated to the communist or communist united front struggle.
When I visited Bruas parliamentary constituency over a month ago, I was asked what are the DAP’s views with regard to the perilous situation of Chinese education, facing extinction.
So long as in Malaysia there are defenders of Chinese education like Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit, who are prepared to make sacrifices for their political beliefs, then I am sure Chinese education will not face extinction.
Round-Table Conference with Tung Chung, Chiau Chung, MCA and Gerakan?
Last Sunday, at the Malacca State DAP Convention, I announced that despite the DAP’s crave reservations about viability and practicability of the repeated call by various Chinese associations, clans and societies and in particular Tung Chung and Chiau Chung, that the DAP, Gerakan and MCA should join forces to protect, safeguard and advance the basic legitimate political, economic, educational, social and cultural rights of Malaysian Chinese, the DAP is prepared to attend a round-table conference with Tung Chung, Chiau, Chung, Gerakan and MCA to discuss whether it is possible to reach a common front in Cabinet, Parliament, State Executive Councils, State Assemblies and outside these chambers to advance legitimate rights of the Malaysian Chinese.
The DAP is only interested in such a common front if it could produce immediate results in the Cabinet, Parliament, State Executive Councils, State Assemblies and other arenas to demonstrate the worth and value, as well as the bona fides of every participant, of such an endeavour.
The DAP has had various discussions with Tung Chung and Chiau Chung, and we have had various signals from the Gerakan. Because of fast-changing political developments in the country, the DAP wants to know whether such a round-table conference is feasible or not, for we are not prepared to wait indefinitely for everyone concerned to make up their minds.
The DAP is not a party which is solely confined to the pursuit of the rights and interests of Malaysian Chinese. We are dedicated to the advancement of the rights and interests of all communities as Malaysian citizens. However, as far as the problems of the Chinese community are concerned, the DAP is prepared to join hands with like-minded people to advance common goals; just as with regard to the interests of the other communities in Malaysia, we are also prepared to join hands with like-minded people to advance such similar common goals.
The country is now going through a very important political stage of development, especially in the rest of the 1980s. Haji Suhaimi represents the type of extremism and chauvinism which powerful people want to bring about in Malaysia.
This is why the DAP has virtually regarded the willingness of the MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC to denounce Suhaimi publicly in Parliament as a test of the preparedness of such parties to stand up against extremism and chauvinism.
The MCA are now spreading rumors throughout the country that it was because of Suhaimi’s extremism that he was not appointed full Minister. I do not buy the story, for Haji Suhaimi’s elevation from Deputy Agriculture Minister to Deputy Education Minister marks another upward political promotion for him. In fact, in terms of real political power, Haji Suhaimi probably is the most powerful man in the Education Ministry today.
There can be no compromise against extremism and chauvinism when it seeks to rear its ugly head. To compromise with extremism is in fact to the policy of moderation in a multi-racial society, with its untold harm to our country.