Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam Lim Kit Siang, at the 20th Anniversary and Farewell Dinner organized by Malacca State DAP at Pay Fong Chinese Independent secondary School on Thursday, 4th sept.1986 at 10 p.m.
Call on Home minister to publicly clarify the status of former Deputy Minister and MP for Kok Lanas, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, whether he was a pro-Russian communist agent as he himself confessed in 1977 or whether he had been politically victims and framed.
Last week, former Deputy Minister and presently MP for Kok Lanas, Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, stirred up waves in Malaysia aggravating racial polarization with his highly provocative, tendentious and seditious speech at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs on what he claimed to be the reality of Malaysian polities.
Datuk Abdullah’s thesis is that Malaysia’s political system is based on Malay political dominance, and Malaysian Chinese are playing with fire if they do not accept the present political equality and democracy.
Datuk Abdullah’s thesis cannot go unchallenged, especially as it is not his own personal view, but reflect top UMNO political leadership, as even the Prime Minister’s speech had rarely been given the same courage by all the Bahasa Malaysia and English newspapers, which not only reported on his speech, but also published the full text of his speech in their editorial page.
However, before I proceed to question and challenge Datuk Abdullah’s thesis, it is necessary that Datuk Abdullah Ahmad’s status be clarified.
I have known Datuk Abdullah since the early 1970s when he was the powerful Political Secretary to the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Razak, who wields power and influence which are the envy of most Ministers.
Datuk Abdullah was a political high-flyer, who, I have no doubt, must have set his eyes on the Prime Minister ship himself. Ten years ago, on Noy.3.1976, Datuk Abdullah, who was then deputy Minister, was arrested under the Internal Security Act.
The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, said three months later that Datuk Abdullah Ahmad was arrested for his involvement in assisting Communist United Front activities. Datuk Abdullah Ahmad himself appeared on television to confess his pro-communist activities in February 1977, admitting that he had contacts with officials from “foreign missions” in Kuala Lumpur since 1968, and that he was “attracted to, and agreed with, the thesis that the communist take over of South East Asia was inevitable”.
In his television confession, Datuk Abdullah said that after the fall of Saigon and communist victory in Indo China was ensured, he began to feel the future would become “very bleak indeed”, and officials of these “foreign missions” told him that the only option left for Malays and other bumiputras would be to accept their brand of communism. In this connection, the “foreign mission” Datuk Abdullah was referring to was the Soviet Union Embassy as it was the only communist embassy Malaysia in 1968.
Datuk Abdullah was released from detention in 1981. The Ministry of Home Affairs owe the Malaysian people a duty to clarify the status of Datuk Abdullah Ahmad, and for this reason, I call on dr. Mahathir Mohamed, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, to state clearly whether Datuk Abdullah Ahmad was a pre-Soviet communist agent as he confessed on television in February 1977, or whether Datuk Abdullah had been politically victimsed and framed.
I do not pass any judgment on Datuk Abdullah, as I do not have any information to make such a judgment, and I do not accept at face value television confessions as I concede that coercion or inducement could have been used to extract such public admissions in exchange of promise of liberty.
Datuk Abdullah is making a political come-back, having been elected as a Member of Parliament for Kok Lanas, and undoubtedly, he will be rising very fast up the political ladder, and is the man to watch in UMNO and Malaysian politics for the next few years, especially as he was party responsible for bringing back Dr. Mahathir to UMNO after his explusion in 1969.
However, before Datuk Abdullah expects to have national credibility, it is necessary that there is a satisfactory clarification by himself and the Ministry of Home Affairs about his arrest and his television confession.
But there seems to be a common streak I his television confession and his recent Singapore speech. In the former, he said he was prepared to collaborate with the Russian communists. In his Singapore speech, he gave currency to the thesis that the Malays in Malaysia “would prefer to share poverty with Indonesia than see their political eroded.”
I have no doubt that if there are Malaysian Chinese who are of the view that they prefer to share poverty with Communist China than to be denied equal political and citizenship rights, Datuk Abdullah would be at the fare front of those denouncing them as traitors, demanding action to be taken against them for sedition, subversion and treason.
Why should there be double standards in this case? Everyone, regardless of racial origin, must be loyal to the multi-racial Malaysian nation, and no one is permitted to entertain any form of disloyal or anti-national sentiments, whatever the excuse. Only then can we claim to be true and loyal Malaysians!
Datuk Abdullah accuses non-Malays of not understanding and accepting history and the reality of the Malaysian political system being premised on Malay political dominance.
It is Datuk Abdullah himself who is guilty of refusing to understand and accept the dynamics of history. In fact, he is trying to distort history!
For instance, in his Singapore speech, Datuk Abdullah said that there will not be another Tan Cheng Lock in Malaysia. If Datuk Abdullah respects history, he will never make such a statement. This is highly derogatory and insulting to the Malaysian Chinese in particular, and the vision of a multi-racial Malaysian, as a whole.
Tan Cheng Lock was not only one of the most illustrious sons of Malacca, but of Malaysia as well. Ee Tiang Hong, in his poem ‘Heeren Street’, has this to say about Tan Cheng Lock:
“At both ends of the street
Singhplates bear the name
Of an illustrious son.
In this very street
In the lavish study
Of the most famous house
Were made and sealed
A people’s fortunes,
And their fate.”
Tan Cheng Lock fought for political equity, cultural diversity, and a genuinely multi-racial Malaya. He supported the establishment of the Nanyang University in the 1950s and would have lent his support to the establishment of the Merdeka University in the 1960s and 1970s.
By making the derogatory reference to Tan Cheng Lock, that there would not be another, he is not only trying to diminish Tan Cheng Lock’s place in Malaysian history, but refusing accord to Tan Cheng Lock his historic place as one of the most illustrious sons of Multi-racial Malaysia who should serve as a model for other generations, to produce more Tan Cheng Locks.
Datuk Abdullah contended that one of the political realities in Malaysia is that our political system is based on Malay dominance, and he reminded all of what he called the Merdeka contract of 1957.
In a way, I agree that one of the political realities in Malaysia is Malay political dominance, and this is why I do not see any non-Malay becoming a Prime Minister in Malaysia during my generation.
However, if anyone had disregarded the Merdeka Contract of 1957, and disregarded the other political realities in Malaysia, it is Datuk Abdullah and UMNO leaders.
If Malaysia is no succeeding as a nation, it is imperative that all political leaders and all Malaysians recognize and respect the various political realities in our political system.
These include firstly, that Malaysia is a multi-racial nation, and Malaysia can only work and succeed if there is a mutual respect of each other’s basic political, citizenship and constitutional rights, and no attempts must be made to erode these rights. For instance, it is impossible for Malaysia to have a one-race government, and any government must secure multi-racial support and have meaningful multi-racial representation if it is to have legitimacy and credibility, inside as well as outside the country.
Secondly, Datuk Abdullah’s statement that there are Malays in Malaysia who “prefer to share poverty with Indonesia than see their political position eroded” is highly mischievous, because since Merdeka 1957, there has been no erosion of the political position of the Malays – only the grave and unrelenting erosion of the political position of the non-Malays!
For instance, during the Merdeka ‘contract’ of 1957, there was an understanding that the two important posts of Malacca Governor and Chief Minister would be jointly shared by the Malays and Chinese, but this was observed for one term and violated and disregarded subsequently.
In the first decade of Merdeka, the Chinese had the important Cabinet posts of ministry of Finance and Ministry of Trade and Industry, but in the last 15 years, these political positions of the non-Malays had been dispossessed. The same applies to the top posts in the Municipal, town and district Councils.
Furthermore, the Merdeka ‘contract’ of 1957 provided for a meaningful application of the ‘one man, one vote’ principle to work towards greater democratization of the political system. This was why the Merdeka Constitution of 1957 provided for a weight age of 15 per cent for rural constituencies, but this democratic safeguard had been abandoned with the repeated amendments to the Constitution whereby the rural weight age can now be as high as 300 or 500 per cent! Can Datuk Abdullah explain whose political position is being corded with the breach of the Merdeka contract of 1957 on the delineation of the electoral constituencies?
A third political reality in Malaysia is that the Barisan Nasional government had dishonored its own spirit of the New Economic Policy, which seeks to restructure the Malaysian society to eliminate the identification of race with any sector or function. This cannot be confined to the economic or educational sector or function, but must include the restructuring of the political function to ensure a fairer and more democratic distribution of political power among Malaysians.
Fourthly, it is also a political reality in Malaysia that with each new generation of Malaysians, there will be a greater aspiration for a more democratic society, which includes a fairer distribution of political power among all Malaysians, regardless of race, and this aspiration must be respected.
In distorting history, misrepresenting the Merdeka Contract of 1957, and refusing to recognize that 29 years after Merdeka we should think more Malaysians rather than as Malays or Chinese, Datuk Abdullah should be advised not to play with fire himself to set himself against the aspirations of Malaysians of all races for greater equality, justice and democracy.