The DAP’s political struggle in Parliament and outside in the last 16 years on Chinese education, language and culture has been greatly undermined by the joining of Gerakan of individual UCSCA officials

Press Conference Statement by DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, April 1, 1982:

The DAP’s political struggle in Parliament and outside in the last 16 years on Chinese education, language and culture has been greatly undermined by the joining of Gerakan of individual UCSCA officials

The DAP views with sadness the latest political development where certain UCSCA officials, as a result of ‘collective decision’, joining the Gerakan on the eve of the 1982 general elections.

The DAP views with sadness this development because it has seriously undermined the political struggle of the DAP in Parliament and outside in the last 16 years on Chinese education, language and culture, not to mention the great personal sacrifices our two DAP leaders, Sdr. Chian Heng Kai and Sdr. Chan Kok Kit, had to undergo in being detained for four years and nine months under the Internal Security Act.

The UCSCA officials are entitled to their political choice, but they cannot but be unaware of the political implications and consequences of their actions.

At a time when the 3M question in Chinese primary schools had remain unresolved, the action of the UCSCA officials can only be seen as endorsement of the government’s Chinese education policy as the Barisan Nasional government would be fully entitled to conclude that despite certain unhappiness in the Chinese community with regard to the 3M, by and large the Chinese community are prepared to accept the 3M as presently decided and implemented.

For the last 16 years, the DAP had tried through the political process to get the government to come to terms with the fact that Malaysia is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-racial society, where the education policy must fully reflect the aspirations of the diverse races and cultures in the country. We had through three previous general elections, not without great sacrifices, increased our electorate from 280,000 in 1969 to 660,000 in 1978 to demonstrate the people’s constant and unshakeable yearning for a multi-racial nation building policy, where Chinese education language and culture have their unquestionable ad inalienable positions in the country.

The 1982 general elections, the fourth general elections to be fought by the DAP, is to be the most crucial of all, especially as this is the first time that Dr. Mahathir Mohamed is seeking a national mandate, to demonstrate in no uncertain terms, that whatever the political views and inclinations of Dr. Mahathir and his colleagues, the unshakeable aspiration of substantial sections of Malaysians for a rightful place for Chinese education, language and culture must be fully respected, if Malaysia is to prosper and progress on the basis of a profound sense of national unity.

I will indeed be a sad day for the battle of a Malaysian Malaysia that such a ringing, unmistakable and powerful message could not be expressed in the 1982 general elections, because of the success of the Gerakan to make use of a few UCSCA individuals to contest against the DAP. This will not only be to the loss of the DAP, the UCSCA, which by themselves are small matters, but to the great loss of an opportunity at a period of the national crossroads to point clearly to the direction that nation building policies should proceed in the 1980s and 1990s.

I understand that a UCSCA official would be contesting against the DAP in Tanjong, where the DAP had decided to field a key national leader. If it is not the intention of the UCSCA individuals who have joined the Gerakan to be used to fight the DAP, then probably they could ensure that such an open conflict with the DAP could be avoided, as for instance, in their coming out as candidates in Nibong Tebal, or other seat currently held by Gerakan.

But if a open contest against the DAP in Tanjong is the price of the entry of the UCSCA officials into Gerakan, then an open battle there would be.

I find this all the more regrettable as it was only about a week ago that a top UCSCA official expressed great appreciation for what the DAP had done in the field of Chinese education, language and culture, stating that of all the three political parties, the DAP was the only one which had been consistent and constant in its political struggle for the rightful place of Chinese education, language and culture.

I was also assured that the UCSCA would render all available help to the DAP in the general elections. The recent development is indeed a most peculiar ‘help’.

The individual political fortunes or that of a political party is secondary, but what is most important in the 1982 general elections is that the electorate should speak loudly, clearly, unmistakably and powerfully for the type of Malaysia they want and not allow such a voice to be blurred or muted – for then the 1980s and 1990s would be very difficult times for our children and children’s children.

Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional government must be told in no uncertain terms by the electorate that the nation building policies of the government, and in particular the theories of nation building developed by Dr. Mahathir in ‘The Malay Dilemma’, is not acceptable and must be reviewed to accommodate the multi-racial aspirations in the country. If we let this opportunity in the 1982 general elections to express the people’s deep-seated yearnings pass, by the muting and blurring of our voice on April 22 because of confusion among ourselves, then we are doing our future generations a great disservice.