1984 Deepavali Message by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, released on Sunday, 21.10.1984
Call on Malaysian Indians to stand up against chauvinists And racialists who want to aggravate racial polarization In the Deepavali spirit of ‘good triumphing over evil’
In wishing all Malaysian Indians a Happy Deepavali, I call on all Malaysian Indians to stand up in the Deepavali spirit of ‘good triumphing over evil’ against chauvinists and racialists who want to aggravate racial polarisation by denying to other races and religions their rightful place in multi – racial, multi – religious Malaysia.
In July, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, expressed his grave concern at the worsening racial polarisation in Malaysia, to be extent that even school children have ‘racial sentiments’.
The worsening racial polarisation in Malaysia is one of the greatest threats to Malaysia’s harmony, stability and integrity. It stems from the intolerance and bigotry of chauvinists and racialists who deny to other races, religions and cultures their rightful place in a multi – racial, multi – religious and multi – cultural Malaysia.
All Malaysian Indians, and in fact all Malaysians regardless of race, must cherish their rightful place in Malaysia, and must stand up to condemn in unequivocable terms any public expression by any person or group which seeks to deny or derogate the position of other communities, religious or cultures in Malaysia.
The 24th July 1984 incident in Parliament where a member of Parliament, Wan Najib Mohamad ( Pasir Puteh), used the Malay proverb “if you see an Indian and a snake, kill the Indian first” to slur the Indian community, is an example of the communal attitudes at leadership ranks which have aggravated racial polarisation in Malaysia.
Wan Najib’s personal explanation in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct. 16 that he had never intended to belittle the Indian community with the proverb is even more insulting than his July 24 speech. What he actually meant on Oct. 16 is that the Indian community should not be hurt by such a remark, and that he was prepared to apologise to MIC but not to the Indian community at large. In any event, he did not make any apology in the end.
As I said in Parliament on Thursday, Oct. 17, the DAP finds Wan Najib’s personal explanation totally unsatisfactory, and the matter has not ended, until and unless he tenders an unconditional and fulsome apology to the Indian community, Parliament and Malaysian nation as a whole for his insulting remarks on 24th July 1984 – for an insult to the Indian community in Malaysian must be regarded as an insult to the entire Malaysian nation for the Indian community is an inseparable and integral part of the Malaysian entity.
It is highly regrettable that MIC leaders do not take a strong stand against Najib’s ‘ular’ comparison of the Indian community, but when I criticised UMNO MPs for making ‘childish’ speeches, the MIC Deputy Health Minister, K. Pathmanaban, protested loudly that I was using ‘unparliamentary’ language. Apparently, to Datuk Pathmanaban, it is unparliamentary to say UMNO Mps are childish but fully acceptable for an UMNO MP to compare the Indians in Malaysia as worse than snakes!
The Wan Najib ‘snake’ affair is not an isolated instance in recent months to illustrate the rising intolerance and bigotry of chauvinists and racialists who are a threat to multi – racial understanding and inter – racial harmony and unity.
The refusal of TV Three to telecast Tamil programmes and the highly derogatory passage in the book, Kesusateraan Melayu Klastik by Mohamed Mansur Abdullah and published by Tratra Publishing and Trading Sdn. Bhd. are more examples of this dangerous trend towards racial polarisation.
What is shocking about all these three incidents is that there is no sense of guilt or wrong, either by Wan Najib, the Channel Three authorities, or the writer or publisher of the offending book, to make them immediately apologise for their actions. In fact, none of the guilty parties have made any apology.
If Malaysia is to succeed as a multi – racial, multi – cultural and multi – religious nation, then we must create a national ethos where those who make offensive or derogatory remarks insulting or denying the rightful place of other communities, cultures or religious would immediately be regarded by the entire national society and all communities as having done an anti – national act.
Let the 1984 Deepavali be a historic one in Malaysia, if it could mark the first step towards the development of such a multi – racial ethos in Malaysia, to lay a firm and lasting foundation for a Malaysian nation where the racial, cultural and religious sensitivities of all Malaysians are respected and honoured – and not the subject of chauvinist or sick jokes.