Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and NP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Pulau Sebang DAP Branch anniversary dinner held at Pulau Sebang, Malacca, on Saturday, 30.4.1983 at 8 pm.
Call on MCA Central Executive Committee to declare its stand on Datuk Harun Idris’ proposal for Constitutional amendment that the country’s Prime Minister must always be a Muslim Malay.
The MCA had claimed a great breakthrough for Chinese political rights as a result of its resounding 1982 general elections results. The people had expected the MCA to deliver the goods of such political breakthrough in terms of the restoration of the lost political, economic, educational, social and cultural rights over since Merdeka in 1977. However, instead of the restoration of the lost rights, the last 12 months have seen even more remaining rights being taken away.
I will give three instances which took place only in the last two weeks to show the relentless erosion of the basic political, economic and socio-cultural rights of Malaysian Chinese.
On 17th April, when opening the UMNO Teluk Kemang Division meeting, the UMNO Vice President, Datuk Haji Harun Idris, suggested that the Malaysian Constitution should be amended to entrench a provision that the Malaysian Prime Minister must always be a Muslim Malay.
Before the MCA’s political breakthrough in the April 1982 general elections, the MCA Youth through its President, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, was demanding that the MCA should be given a Second Deputy Prime Ministerial appointment. After Datuk Lee Kim Sai was told in no uncertain terms that the MCA Youth Proposal was a ‘non-starter’ by the UMNO leadership, Datuk Lee and the MCA Youth kept a submissive silence.
Thus we have a spectacle where-by as a result of the MCA’s 1982 general elections breakthrough, the MCA Youth had given up its demand for a Second DPM-ship for the MCA; while the UMNO Vice President is asking for a Constitutional entrenchment that only a Muslim Malay can be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
I think the Malaysian Chinese for whom the MCA claims to champion have a right to ask the MCA to give a clear-cut answer as to which party, the MCA or UMNO, had already made a political breakthrough as a result of the 1982 general elections.
As usual, a few insignificent MCA branches came out with statements opposing Datuk Harun Idris’ proposal, but the top MCA leaders usually very vocal and articulate about any unacceptable action or statement had kept very quiet.
In view of the fact that Datuk Lee San Choon had resigned as MCA President, and there is a major Cabinet reshuffle being planned, this is the best time for the MCA to demand a Second DPM appointment for the MCA. Why is Datuk Lee Kim Sai keeping quiet? Is it to behave himself to prove his acceptability for some Deputy Ministerial or other appointment?
I call on the MCA Central Executive Committee to declare its stand on Datuk Harun Ikris’ proposal for a constitutional amendment that a Muslim Malay must be the Malaysian Prime Minister, for if the MCA is not prepared to make a public stand on such crucial issues, then it must be exposed for what it really is.
The second incident is the announcement by the Finance Minister, Tengku Razaleigh, on 18th April 1983 that all government printing contracts must be given to Malay publishers registered with the Finance Ministry. This is a policy which was made with the full support of the MCA, and constitute another ‘breakthrough’ for the MCA as a result of the MCA’s great victory in the 1982 general elections.
The third incident is the announcement last week that the Kota Setar Municipality is proceeding with its new signboard by-laws, requiring words in other languages should not be more than half the size of words in Bahasa Malaysia and should not occupy more than half the space allotted in Bahasa.
The Malaysian Chinese could still remember the recent declaration by the MCA Youth Chairman, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, that the signboard controversy had been resolved, and that all that is needed is for the other languages to b smaller than Bahasa Malaysia. The people were told that if the Bahasa Malaysia wordings are six feet, the Chinese wordings could be five feet or five and a half feet. What has happened?
Furthermore, the Kota Setar Municipality now requires all Alor Star signboards to conform to the new regulations, regardless of whether they are very old signboards. This is again another breach of undertaking that the new signboard by-laws would affect only new advertisements and signboards.
It is true that in the 1982 general elections, the MCA won an unprecedented victory in Parliamentary and State Assembly seats, but it is equally true that the plight of the Malaysian Chinese with regard to their fundamental political, economic, educational, social and cultural rights had never been so under assault as in the last 12 months after the MCA’s unprecedented general elections victory.
The people all over the country must require all MCA branches, state leaders and MCA Assemblymen and MPs, as well as MCA Exco Members and Ministers to explain why the MCA’s great election victory in 1982 had brought such bitter fruits and results to the people!