Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in Kuching on Friday, 12.3.1982
Call on people of Sarawak to vote for the DAP in the coming general elections to strengthen the Opposition to provide for an effective check against the rising tide of extremism in the 1980s, abuses of power and continued social and economic injustices and inequalities.
The next general elections is now very near at hand, and I expect it to be held on 24th April 1982, or a week before or after, The DAP will be contesting in Sarawak Parliamentary elections for the first time, and I hope that the people of Sarawak will give the DAP their support to strengthen the Opposition to provide for an effective check against the rising tide of extremism in the 1980s, abuses of power and the continued social and economic injustices and inequalities in the country.
The next general elections will be the most important general elections in Malaysian history ever since Independence in 1957, for it will not only be the first time that the 2M leadership of Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and Datuk Musa Hitam would be seeking a new national mandate, it will be the first time that the 2M leadership could with some justification implement their ideas with a national mandate.
To understand Dr. Mahathir’s ideas on nation building we must read his ‘Malay Dilemma’. On Wednesday night, the Prime Minister said that the government ban on ‘The Malay Dilemma’ was lifted because it was important that the people in the country know what was written in the book rather than hear about it from people whose intentions might not be very healthy.
Dr. Mahathir said that much of the things he described in the book some 10 years ago no longer hold true, and that the harsh would used in the book may no longer be justified and would seem out of place now. He said he was not making an apology for what he had written as he expected no apology for things other people said about him and about racial issues in those days.
I agree with Dr. Mahathir that nobody should demand or except apology for the things said over 10 years ago, and that description of issues at that time may no longer be pertinent. But what would remain pertinent and relevant, not only for now and the present, but for the 1980s and beyond, are the author’s views on the principles on which nation building in the country must founded.
Such ideas on nation building principles do not change with individual events, unless there are changes in these ideas themselves. For instance, in the preface to the book, ‘The Malay Dilemma’, Dr. Mahathir’s basic thesis in the book were outlined as that “the Malays are the rightful owners of Malaya, that immigrants are guests until properly absorbed” and that “immigrants are not truly absorbed until they have abandoned the language and culture of the past.”
We are not asking Dr. Mahathir to apologise for these ideas written in 1970, but we do ask him to declare clearly that these are no more his views, for they go to the basic question as to what type of nation building policies would be pursued in the 1980s by the 2M leadership.
This is why it is al the more disturbing that in the Chinese translation of the book, Dr. Mahathir’s preface was entitled “Not a Second Though”, where he wrote:
“A decade ago, out in the political wilderness, with time to reflect and think more soberly, I had set out my views, with sincerity and candour, o various national issues facing the country and the people…… For the Chinese readers, this book should provide an opportunity to pass judgement on the writer.”
Dr. Mahathir would rightly believe that his ideas in the ‘Malay Dilemma’, in particular the chapter on “The Bases of National Unity”, would be read, studied and judged in the coming general elections, and if a sufficiently big mandate is secured showing it has the substantive support of all Malaysians, to begin to put them into practice.
Although Dr. Mahathir has ‘not a second though’ about the basic principles of nation building in ‘The Malay Dilemma’, the people must have the opportunity in the coming general elections to urge on him to have second thoughts because they have judged it and found it wanting and impracticable for creating national unity.
A strong opposition will not only keep the government on its toes and more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the rakyat, it would also be a check against government excesses and abuses of power and the continued social and economic injustices and inequalities in the country.
I have with me on this visit thee National Vice Chairman of DAP, Sdr. Chan Kok Kit, who together with Sde. Chian Heng Kai were detained for 4 years and 9 months because of their fearless espousal of the constitutional rights of Chinese education in the country, Sdr. Liew Ah Kim, DAP National Social/Cultural Secretary and Assemblyman for Kajang, Selangor, and Sdr. Loke Swee Ching, CEC member and Perak DAP Wanita chief.
We will take this occasion to find out the stage of elections preparations of the DAP n Sarawak, and also to explain to the people the issues facing the country, and in particular the recent 3M controversy, where the DAP had stood firm against the 3M implementation in Chinese primary schools for it will lead to long-term change in character.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in reply to the DPA on the first day in Parliament, said he did not understand what is meant by ‘character’ of Chinese primary schools, as the medium of instruction remain unchanged.
During my speech on the Royal Address, I spent two-thirds of my hour-long speech to explain to Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional Government that although the language medium in Chinese primary schools remain unchanged, its character can be destroyed if the special characteristics like the moral traditions and ethical values of Chinese culture are emptied from Chinese education.
The battle to ensure that the character of Chinese primary schools remain unchanged in nothing more than a struggle to ensure that our children grow up with cultural roots.
Just as a tree without strong roots cannot stand firm in storm, a man without cultural rots cannot withstand any crisis without immediately having an identity crisis.
The DAP had been accused of ‘exploiting’ the 3M issue. We know this is the slander and libel we must face for standing up to speak up for the people’s rights, but we believe that the people can see for themselves who had been responsible for creating this 3M issue.
Although the DAP in the Sarawak state general elections did not win a single seat, we did fairly satisfactorily in terms of votes cast. I hope with the start made in the Sarawak state general elections, the DAP will succeed in sending DAP MPs into Parliament in the coming general elections.