Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the official opening of the Selangor DAP State Convention held at TWU Hall, PJ on Sunday, 28.6.1987 at 10a.m.
The battle for equality, justice and freedom would be lost if Malaysians dare not stand up and speak out against discriminatory government policies which treat them as second-class citizens
In the recent Penang State Assembly meeting, Penang Chief Minister Dr. Lim Chong Eu, attacked the DAP Aeemblymen for Jawi, Chin Kwee Toon, for protesting against Barisan Nasional policies which divided Malaysians into first-class and second-class citizens.
Dr. Lim said this was an ‘old tune’, which he had, together with others like D.R. Seenivasagam, played 25 years ago. He said this was no more an issue in Malaysian of 1987, and those who still talk about the divisions of Malaysians into first-class and second-class citizens have failed to keep up with the times!
This was a most shocking political statement by the Gerakan Chief Minister of Penang, and was no mere mistake or slip of tongue. DAP Assemblymen were infuriated by Dr. Lim’s assertion, Sdr. Karpal Singh, Gooi Hock Seng, Chian Heng Kai and I interjected several times. But instead of retracting his statement, Dr. Lim made it very clear that he, as well as Gerakan, stood very firmly on what he had enunciated.
He even suggested that those who protested that they were treated as ‘second-class’ citizens were either irrational or misguided, arguing that under the Constitution and before the law, all citizens are equal.
If this was the case, then why did Dr. Lim, together with the late D. R. Seenivasagam and others, fought against the treat***** non-Malays as ‘second-class citizens’, because by that time, the Constitution and the laws on equality of all citizens were already in force?
I made it very clear to Dr. Lim in the Penang Assembly that his assertion is the best proof as to why he, as well as Gerakan, has lost touch with the people on the ground, completely out of sympathy half of the Malaysian population who chafe at being denied full citizenship equality in the real sense of the term.
It is clear that Dr. Lim Chong Eu, and Gerakan, has come to accept the present unequal political conditions, whereby one ethnic group exercises increasing political dominance, while other ethnic group exercises increasing political dominance, while other ethnic groups have to be content with decreasing political power and influence in the country.
I find it both pathetic and tragic that Dr. Lim Chong Eu and Gerakan should reach a stage where they have lost sympathy and understanding with half the Malaysian population who reject discriminatory policies which place them on a second-class citizenship status, and even denounced those who still have the courage, conviction and commitment to rectify such injustices.
The battle for equality, justice and freedom would be lost if Malaysians dare not stand up and speak out against discriminatory government policies which treat them as second-class citizens.
This was why in the exchanges in the Penang Assembly arising from the shocking assertion by Dr. Lim that there is no basis for anyone to think he is a ‘second-class’ citizen, I challenged Dr. Lim and the Barisan Nasional component parties to a debate on the ‘second class citizenship’ issue.
The Gerakan Youth, however, has tried to distort the exchanges in the Penang Assembly by accusing me and the DAP for confessing and accepting that the non-Malays are second-class citizen.
Those who had accepted second-class citizenship status would not protest or dare to speak out, for they would have also acquired second-class mentality and psychology. This is what has happened to Dr. Lim Chong Eu and the Gerakan.
I am very concerned that there are more and more Malaysians who are like Dr. Lim Chong Eu and the Gerakan who have mentally conditioned themselves to become second-class citizens, and to regard those who question or challenge this injustice as ‘anti-national’ or ‘trouble-makers’.
So long as a huge section of Malaysians feel that they are not given a full and equal stake under the Malaysian sun, and that they are treated as second-class citizens, the nation-building process will never be a success.
Government leaders must be realistic and sincere enough that his is a vital problem in Malaysian thirty years after Merdeka how to banish from the minds of about half of the people, that they are discriminated against and are not given full equal citizenship.
The Gerakan and MCA may not be brave enough to face these issued, but the DAP will not be deterred by the servile and psychophantic politics of MCA and Gerakan to continue to challenge and oppose all discriminatory government policies – which perpetuate the division of Malaysians into first and second-class citizens.