Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Me1aka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Bentong, DAP Anniversary Dinner held in Bentong, Pahang, on Saturday, 13th August 1983 at 8 p.m.
Anwar Ibrahim’s Senate statement yesterday should banish whatever doubts the 15 Chinese national organisations and Tung/Chiau Chung should have that the Penang Cultural Memorandum has been rejected by the Ministry of Culture, and should spur them into action to reaffirm support for the Memorandum.
On July 29 in Parliament, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Anwar Ibrahim, made an important statement in reply to questions by DAP Members of Parliament, making clear, without stating directly, that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports rejected the Penang Cultural Memorandum of the 15 Chinese national organisations and Tung/Chiau Chung adopted in Penang at the Malaysian Chinese Cultural Congress on March 27.
Anwar Ibrahim said that the Government would not compromise on its National Culture Policy based on the 1971 National Cultural Congress and would not entertain any memorandum or proposal which question the National Cultural Policy.
I am very surprised that for the last two weeks, there had been no reaction whatsoever from the signatories of the Penang Cultural Memorandum or other Chinese societies or organisations to a matter which all de1egtes to the Malaysian Chinese Cultural Conference in Penang declared was of fundamental importance,
I could only conclude that this was because there is still doubt whether the Ministry of Culture had in fact rejected the Penang Cultural Memorandum, as the Minister of Culture had used a very round—about way to express rejection of the Cultural Memorandum rather than a direct statement of rejection.
Those who still have doubts that the Cultural Memorandum of Penang had been rejected by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, even without the Memorandum being tabled and discussed in Cabinet, should have no more doubts after Encik Anwar’s Senate statement yesterdays.
In his reply to Senator Kee Yong Wee on the Penang Cultural Memorandum, Encik Anwar has developed on his Dewan Rakyat answers by further stating that the Penang Cultural Memorandum cultural policy proposal would obstruct national unity in Malaysia. Thus, Encik Anwar told the Senate yesterday that the Penang Cultural Memorandum “prefers a culture which unites the best cultural elements from all races, and if this happens, then our aim to strengthen on national unity through culture would not be achieved,’ (….‘lebih menhendaki satu corak kebudayaan yang mengabongkan unsur—unsur unggul budaya semua kaum, dan jika keadaan demikian berlaku, hasrat kita untuk rnemperkukuhkan perpaduan negara melalui kebudayaan tidak adalah tercapai.’)
The signatories to the Penang Cultural Memorandum, in particular the 15 Chinese national organisations and Tung/Chiau Chung should have no more doubts about the status of the Penang Cultural Memorandum in the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Snorts, and they should be spurred into action to decide whether to acquiesce to the Ministry of Culture’s decision that there is no room for multi-culturalism in Malaysia, or whether they are prepared to reaffirm their support for the policy proposals of the Penang Cultural Memorandum and to work out a action programme to begin to convert Barisan Nasional leaders to support the Penang Cultural Memorandum.
I am surprised that when Encik Anwar gave his Senate reply stating that the Penanq Cultural Memorandum’s proposal for a mu1ti—cu1tural Malaysia would hinder the achievement of national unity, Senator Kee and other MCA Gerakan Senators did not question and challenge him. This would be taken as the agreement of MCA arid Gerakan Senators to the government cultural position as stated by Anwar. This is a great misfortune for Malaysia.