Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Malacca DAP State Thousand- People Dinner thanks-giving reception for dinner arganisers and workers, held at Capital Restaurant, Malacca on Saturday, 30th July 1983 at 8 p.m.
DAP deplores the off-handed rejection of the National Culture Memorandum of the 15 Chinese national organizations of March by the Minister of Youth, Culture and Sports even without consideration by the Cabinet.
The DAP deplores the off-handed rejection of the Memorandum on National Culture adopted by 15 Chinese national organizations, including the Tung/ Chiau, Chung, in Penang in March by the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Encik Anwar Ibrahim, even without consideration by the Cabinet, on the ground that the memorandum’s policy proposals on the basic of Malaysian culture violate and contradict the National Culture Policy of the government.
Encik Anwar said in Parliament that the National Culture Policy had been accepted by the people, and become national policy, and that there was no more room for re- opening basic policy questions on what constitute the Malaysian culture.
When I pointed out that it is not correct to claim that the people as a whole had accepted the National Cultural Policy of Barisan Nasional, and that even the non- UMNO Barisan leaders outside Parliament claim that they had not given their agreement to this Policy, and pointed out that the National Culture memorandum of the 15 Chinese organisation in March constitute a rejection of the three principles of Malaysian Cultural Policy as adopted by the National Cultural Congress in 1971 and which formed the basic of the Barisan Nasional National Culture Policy, Encik Anwar said that the Government would not swerve from its National Cultural Policy. Encik Anwar added that he was prepared to consider proposals which did not violate the basic policy Malaysian national culture.
Encik Anwar also made it very clear that the National Culture Policy represented the policy of the Barisan Nasional, and all its component parties, whether MCA, Gerakan, SUPP, PPP, MIC, Berjaya.
The summary rejection of the policy proposals of the National Culture Memorandum by the 15 Chinese national organisations has not come as a surprise to me, although it must have shocked those who had believed that with the April 1982 General Elections ‘breakthrough’ of MCA and Gerakan, there would also be breakthrough in political, economic, educational and cultural areas as well.
In actual fact, the formulation and enunciation of the National Culture Policy, based on the three principles of the National Cultural Congress of 1971, namely that (i) the national culture be based on the indigenous culture; (ii) elements of other cultures which are suitable and appropriate could be accepted into the national culture; and (iii) Islam should be an important element; had been accepted by all the MCA or Gerakan Ministers now say in Cabinet that they had never supported such a National Culture Policy.
This is why no non-UMNO Cabinet Minister, whether from MCA, Gerakan MIC or SUPP dare pursue and speak up for the National Culture Memorandum of the 15 Chinese national organisations in Cabinet.
In actual fact, we can see a hardening of attitudes of the Barisan Nasional Government on national culture, after the April 1982 general elections, as could be shown by the proclamation for the first time in Parliament in Oct, 11.1982 of the nationb- building policy of ‘one language, one culture’ in the 1980s.
All the Chinese national organisations which had signed the memorandum on National Culture should study in depth the reply of Encik Anwar in Parliament, and consider the consequences and implications of far- reaching nature of the answer.