Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Triang Branch Anniversary Dinner held in Triang on Saturday, 6.11.1982 at 8 pm
DAP welcomes amendment to the Societies Act to abolish ‘political societies’ but regret that other obnoxious features are being retained
The DAP, which led the attack against Societies Act Amendments in Parliament in April last year, which created a distinction between political societies and ordinary societies and other restrictions on the free operation of societies, welcome the 1982 Societies Amendment Bill tabled in Parliament for first reading on Thursday.
The 1982 Societies Amendment Bill seeks to abolish the distinction between political societies and ordinary societies, reverting to the position before the 1982 Societies Amendment Act. However, the DAP regrets that other obnoxious and undemocratic features of the 1981 Societies Amendment Act, like the provisions that the Minister’s decisions is final and conclusive and cannot be challenged in a court of law, are being retained.
In the debate on the 1982 Societies Amendment Bill expected to be held in the first week of December, the DAP will renew our opposition to the undemocratic features in the Societies Act which hamper or restrict the freedom of operation of societies in the country.
I would call on the Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, to reconsider the rest of the provisions in the Societies Act and in the next one month before the 1982 Societies Amendment Bill are debated in Parliament, submit further amendments to withdraw the obnoxious and undemocratic provisions like the usurpation of the powers of the Judiciary to check on any Ministerial abuses of power.
We in the DAP are prepared to give praise where praise is due, and in the government’s preparedness to abolish the monstrous creature of ‘political societies’, the 2M Government’s action is to be commended. We only hope that we can give the fullest commendation with the withdrawal of all the obnoxious and undemocratic provisions introduced in April last year.
We welcome the 2M Government’s preparedness to listen and to be more open-minded than the previous administration, at least with regard to portions of the 1981 Societies Amendment Act. I only hope that they would be equally open-minded with regard to other crucial national issues, especially pertaining as to the type of Malaysian society that is being built. I have not seen signs that the 2M Government is prepared to be open-minded on these other equally important, if not even more important, national issues.
As a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country, Malaysia can only survive if political leaders eschew extremism or fanaticism of any form, and stand firmly and squarely for moderation and the values of a plural society where no one, whether person, race or group, try to impose its will on another.
There have been more and more such unhealthy developments in recent months, like the Kota Star District Council new by-law with regard to advertising and signboards requiring Chinese characters to be one-quarter the size of Bahasa Malaysia language. I call on Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa to be open-minded and put a halt to such and other developments, which will greatly upset sensitivities in Malaysian society, so that we can concentrate on developing the resources and talents of our country, instead of being locked in internally divisive issues frittering away our national energies.