Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Kuantan Branch reception at Kuantan Town Hall to celebrate the DAP Raub by-election victory held on Saturday, 27th August 1983 at 8 p.m.
Malaysians must be realists and not escapists if they are to effect changes in government policy, as the building of a multi-cultural as distinct from a mono-cultural Malaysian national culture
Malaysians must be realists and not escapists if they are to have any success to affect changes in government nation building policy, whether in the political, economic, education, social and cultural spheres.
My political experience convinces me that when faced with unpleasant situations, there is a strong tendency for people, for a variety of reasons, to avoid reality by escape into illusions or self-delusions.
The most recent example is the repudiation of the Cultural Memorandum adopted in Penang on March 27 by 15 Chinese National Organisations and Tung/Chiau Chung as announced by the Minister of Cultural, Youth and Sports, Anwar Ibrahim, in Parliament on July 29 and August 12, 1983.
The Malaysian Chinese invested high hopes and expectations an the Cultural Memorandum in the belief it would form the basis for the reconsideration and re-examination by the Barisan Nasional Government as to creating a Malaysian national culture.
There was therefore stunned silence and disbelief when as a result of DAP MPs’ questioning in Parliament, the Minister of Culture made it clear that the Government would not make any concessions whatsoever to the Cultural Memorandum as far as policy proposals are concerned.
For the two week, there was virtually no reaction to the categorical answer of Encik Anwar that the government is determined to implement the 1971 National Cultural Congress Principles of establishing the Malaysian culture on Malay culture.
I am relieved that in the last one week, the situation has begun to change, showing a greater awareness among the people and in particular the Malaysian Chinese community that their silence and lack of reaction to Encik Anwar’s parliamentary announcement can only be construed as acquiescene and acceptance of the 1971 National Cultural Congress principles and repudiation of the Malaysian Chinese Cultural Congress in Penang of March 27, 1983.
But I can still detect a considerable body of organisations and individuals who do not want to face the reality, and want to delude not only themselves but others as well, as to the true situation of the government’s attitude towards the Cultural Memorandum on March 27, 1983.
Unless every Malaysian is prepared to face reality, unhowever unpleasant, without self-delusions, we can never begin to take the next step to plan and endeavour to effect changes in the political, economic, educational, social and cultural arena.
If we want the government to change its attitude to the Penang Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983, for instance, we must first of all accept two realities:
First, that the Government had rejected the Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983 as contradictory to the government national cultural policy;
Secondly, that the rejection of the Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983, is not by the Minister of Culture himself, but representative of the Barisan Nasional Cabinet, including MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP, Ministers and leaders.
It will be very difficult to mobilize national energies to demand for re-examination of the Barisan Nasional’s cultutal policy if many still delude themselves into thinking that Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983 had not been rejected by the government, that it was being considered by the appropriate authorities; or even worse, that the rejection was only by one person, the Minister of Cultural, Youth and Sport, Anwar Ibrahim, or at most by one political party, UMNO.
With regard to the first reality, I think more and more people are now realizing that the Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983, had been summararily rejected by the Government.
But large number of people are still under the impression that the rejection is made by one person, Anwar Ibrahim, or at most one political party, UMNO. This is because the other parties like MCA and Gerakan are playing the clever game of issuing statements expressing their opposition to Anwar Ibrahim‘s view, although MCA and Gerakan Ministers in Cabinet fully support Anwar Ibrahim on national cultural policy.
One former MCA Minister, who is now in Gerakan, had explained clearly that in the Cabinet, if there is one Minister who oppose any proposed policy and government measure, that policy or measure cannot be implemented. Thus, if there had been any opposition either by MCA or Gerakan Ministers in Cabinet to the rejection of the Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983, Anwar Ibrahim would not be in a position to make the statements he made in Parliament about repudiation of the Cultural Memorandum.
I hope that every concerned Malaysian who wants a multi-cultural Malaysian culture, and not a mono-cultural Malaysia, would be able to recognize these two realities, firstly, that the Cultural Memorandum had been rejected by the Government, and secondly, that it was rejected by the various Barisab Nasional parties including Gerakan, MCA, NIC, SUPP, so that the next step to demand re-examination of the government’s rejection of the Cultural Memorandum could be taken effectively.
Clearly, if we want the Barisan Nasional Government to re-examine its rejection of the Cultural Memorandum, the first step must commit MCA, Gerakan, NIC and SUPP Ministers to agree in Cabinet, and their MPs in Parliament, to publicly support the Cultural Memorandum of March 27, 1983. If they are not prepared to support the Cultural Memorandum, then we cannot proceed to the second step to get UMNO Ministers and MP to reconsider and give support to the Cultural Memorandum.