Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the public launching of the new DAP book ‘Human Rights in Malaysia’ un Penang at Hotel Towne on Wednesday,11.12 1985 at 5.30p.m.
DAP calls for amendment of the Malaysian Constitution to write in a guarantee of the fundamental right to cultural identity for Malaysians in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society
In a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious society like Malaysia, one of the most important fundamental rights of the people must be right to cultural identity, which is recognised internationally as a basic human right.
In recent times, the right of Malaysians to cultural identity had come under increased and sustained attack.
In Parliamentary, two UMNO MP for Pasir Puteh, Wan Najib Wan Mohamad, told Malaysian Chinese who want to safeguard their culture to go back to China and Malaysian Indians who want to safeguard their culture to go back to India.
In the recent STPM General Paper, an extent from the formerly banned book of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, ‘The Malay Dilemma’, setting out his assimilation theory of nation building, was used to disseminate such ideas.
At one 3M teaching seminar last month, one lecturer told Chinese primary school teachers that Chinese cultural could not be accepted as part of Malaysia culture, and Chinese school students should not be allowed to draw the ‘dragon’ as it is alien to Malaysian culture.
Another example of the increasing assault of the right to cultural identity is the ‘Toi Looi Hua’ episode in the ‘Setangkai Irama’ programme where Chinese classic operatic item of Sudirman and Noorkumalasri was censored. Recently, again, there was the government decision not to allow the publication of Mandarin version of the phone directory.
I could go on with a very long list of instance of attacks on the right of cultural identity of Malaysians, most of them occuring since the April 1982 general elections because of the land-slide Barisan Nasional general elections victory. No wonder the first thing the Barisan Nasional government did in the first Parliamentary was to proclaim its ‘one language, one culture’ policy.
I call on all Malaysians to stand up for the fundamental right for cultural identity, especially at a time when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, seems to be the latest admirer of Emperor Shih Huangti. Malaysians must make clear their opposition to deprivation of the people’s cultural identity, or any attempt to force a ‘One Language, One Culture’ Policy down the throats of the people.
The DAP calls for the Malaysian Constitution to be amended so that the fundamental right of cultural identity of every Malaysian is guaranteed. With such a guarantee, it would be more difficult for cultural or religious extremist who want to deculturate other Malaysians, believing that the elimination of other cultures in the way to build a Malaysian nation.
The public launching of the new book, ‘Human Rights in Malaysia’, in Penang is to create greater awareness and consciousness among the people about their human rights, its dimension and meaning. Human rights are not confined to the traditional civil and political rights, but encompasses cultural, economic and social rights like the right to cultural identity, the right to education and the right to a decent standard of living.
Whether I take up the invitation of the Penang State Committee and Cultural and Central Executive Committee to lead Penang DAP into the next polls will not depend on Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s position
In the latest revived issue of Rocket, the DAP publication, Penang DAP State Chairman, Sdr. Karpal Singh, said in an interview that the Penang DAP State Committee had unanimously decided, and subsequently agreed upon by the Central Executive Committee, to ask me to lead Penang DAP in the next polls.
When I announced at the DAP National Congress in Penang in April that Penang would be the DAP’s front-line state in the next general elections, it did not mean that I would definitely be contesting in Penang myself.
However, in view of Penang DAP State Committee’s unanimous resolution and the Central Executive Committee’s decision, the proposal deserved serious consideration. All I want to say at the moment is that whether I take up the invitation of the Penang State Committee and the Central Executive Committee to lead Penang DAP into the next polls will not depend on Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s decision to stay as Chief Minister or retire from elective political office.
The overriding consideration must be the interests of the people of Penang and Malaysia, and the future of DAP.
In coming to a final decision, I would take into account the views of people of Penang.