Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung. Lim Kit Siang, at Perak DAP State Anniversary Dinner held at Tou Boo Kong, Ipoh on Sunday, 20.9.1987 at 10 pm.
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is guilty of ‘capitulationism’ in opposing review of the Malaysian Constitution as he wants the Malaysian Chinese to accept the erosion of their political economic, educational and cultural rights in the past 30 years.
Recently, there has been a national controversy over proposals by eminent Malaysians, including Bapa Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Sultan of Perak, Raja Azlan Shah, for a review of the Malaysian constitution 30 years after Merdaka.
The DAP had last year publicly called for review of the Malaysian Constitution, so that Malaysians could assess how for the country have deviated from our original Constitutional promises, so as to take steps to overcome the excesses, abuses and violations of our original Constitutional rights and guarantees.
I am not surprised that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and other UMNO leaders had come out against the proposals for a review of the Constitution. This is because a review of the Constitution would show that in the past 30 years, the government had violated many important principles of our Constitution, such as:
– Human rights guaranteed in the Constitution;
– Guarantee that Malaysia is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation;
– The Doctrine of the Separation of Powers to ensure the checks and balances among the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary that the Sultan of Perak spoke about in a speech yesterday;
– The Independence of Judiciary; and Abuses in the use of Emergency Proclamations and powers.
I am very surprised however that Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, had come out in the forefront in opposition to the review of the Malaysian Constitution 30 years after Merdeka.
The reason given by Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan is that the Chinese political po er is so weak that in any review of the Malaysian Constitution, extremist racial and religious forces would succeed I getting amendments to the Constitution which would worsen the lot of the Malaysian Chinese.
I find this reason completely unacceptable. I concede that in parliament, Malay Members of Parliament represent the overwhelming majority who could pass any law they want even without support from MCA or Gerakan MPs. But this is only in theory, but not in practice.
A multi-racial society like Malaysia, there are certain political realities which everyone must accept, like we must not expect to have a Malaysian Chinese or Indian Prime Minister in Malaysia before the Year 2,000. Another political reality in Malaysia is that in our multi-racial country, no one-race government can effectively, legitimately and successfully govern Malaysia.
A practical application of this principle is that no government would dare to introduce and force through in Parliament any legislation which is detrimental to any particular racial group, whether in terms of politics, economic, education or culture, which does not have the support of any MPs of the racial group concerned.
I another words, no government legislation, policy or measure detrimental to the interests of Chinese education or position in politics, economic or culture would have been made if the MCA and Gerakan Minister or MPs dare to register their protest and opposition.
The Merdeka University issue is a good case in point. How can we blame the UMNO for opposing Merdeka University proposal when the MCA, which profess to represent the five million Malaysian Chinese in Malaysia, openly state its opposition to the idea of Merdeka University?
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan suggests that if there is a review of the Constitution, there will be extremists forces, for instance, who will want to establish a Islamic State and have it written into the Malaysian Constitution. Is this possible? I find the idea most ridiculous.
If we have reached a position where there are political forces which could write into the Malaysian Constitution the establishment of an Islamic State, then whether there is a review of the Constitution or not utterly irrelevant.
So long as the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and MPs are prepared to stand form that this is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural society where there must be equality for al citizens, there is no reason to fear review the Malaysian Constitution 30 years after Merdeka.
If MCA and Gerakan Ministers and MPs cannot stand firm on these principles, then Malaysians would progressively lose their political, economic, educational and cultural rights even without Constitutional review.
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Geraan must admit that the political, economic, educational and cultural position and rights of the Malaysians Chinese have suffered unprecedented erosion in the 30 years. In opposing a review of the Malaysian Constitution, to expose these erosions and demand their rectification, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan are in fact espousing the cause of ‘capitulationsim’.
This is because Dr. Lim and Gerakan are in effect telling the Malaysian Chinese community that they must accept the erosion and loss of their political, economic, educational and cultural rights in the past 30 years, and that the whole matter should not be reviewed to enable a historic account to be drawn up as to what had been lost.
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan want the people to forget about the rights they had lost in the past 30 years, so that they would not object too strongly to the further erosion of their remaining rights in the 1990s.
The DAP cannot support or sympathise with such unprincipled political stand of Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan. We maintain that the Malaysian Constitution should be reviewed, to find out how far we have deviated from the position in 1957 when the three communities had an equal political position for their common effort to attain independence for the country.
The last 30 years have seen great wrongs being done to the political, economic, educational and cultural rights of the non-Malays in Malaysia. If, like Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Gerakan, we dare not talk about them and demand teir rectification, then we must be prepared to suffer even more wrongs in the future!