Lam Thye’s political retirement is a major setback for the DAP and the struggle to bring about a two-coalition system in Malaysia


Speech by Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Batu Pahat DAP Branch Ceramah to welcome the entry of the 27 Chinese educationists and civil rights activists in to the DAPO held at Ai Chun Girls Chinese Primary School, Batu Pahat on Sunday, 30th September 1990 at 9 am.

Lam Thye’s political retirement is a major setback for the DAP and the struggle to bring about a two-coalition system in Malaysia.

I had not wanted to attend tonight’s ceramah in Batu Pahat, as my heart is still very heavy over the announcement by Sdr. Lee Lam Thye yesterday to retire from politics.

We had worked together as a team in the DAP since the early days of the formation of the DAP in the mid-Sixties.

There had been a long-standing attempt to create splits and divisions between us because of our different political styles, but I have always regarded our different political styles as mutually complementary, and that the DAP is what it is today because of the sum total of our different political styles.

I was a witness to the suffering and agency Lam Thye went through in the past 10 days which finally led to his announcement yesterday that he was retiring from politics.

I had my first discussion and meeting with him on Sept. 19, where he told me that he had no intention of withdrawing his resignation as Chairman of the Federal Territory DAP, and also that he was going to announce his retirement from politics.

The next ten days were agonizing days for him as well as for me. I had four meetings with him to try to persuade him to change his mind, not only to resume the Chairmanship of Federal Territory DAP, but also to continue to provide his political leadership and services.

I also had several telephone conversations over the matter, and after a midnight telephone call on Thursday, I thought I saw light at the end of the tunnel, and that Lam Thye would reconsider his position.

It proved to be otherwise, and on Saturday, Lam Thye announced that he was retiring from politics.

The last ten days had been ‘hell’ for Lam Thye. It was no easier for me, for during that period, I was unable to operate politically, trying my utmost best to persuade Lam Thye to change his mind

I have decided to come to the Batu Pahat ceramah after all, because whatever my heart-aches over Lam Thye’s decision to retire from politics, political work cannot wait, especially as general elections is likely to be held next month, when the people have the best political opportunity for the first in 33 years to bring about great political changes.

There is no doubt that Lam Thye’s political retirement is a major set-back to the DAP and the struggle to bring about a two-coalition system in Malaysia.

DAP leadership, membership and public united as one in wanting Lam Thye to continue to provide political leadership and services

If could succeed in my effort to persuade Lam Thye to change his mind about political retirement, and continue to provide his political leadership and services to the party, people and country, then this damage could be undone.

In fact, the DAP party leadership and membership, as well as the Malaysian public who had always looked up to the DAP for hope and leadership, are united in wanting Lam Thye to reconsider and withdraw his decision to retire from politics, and to continue to serve the party, people and country.

As Lam Thye has goner overseas, I do not know when I would be able to meet him to persuade him to reconsider and change his mind.

In the meanwhile, we who believe in the creation of a two-coalition system in Malaysia at this important stage of our national political development must redouble our efforts to minimize the damage and do our utmost to ensure that the potential for great political change in the next general elections is not squandered away.

I therefore call on all Dap leaders and members to redouble their political preparations for the great political challenge in the coming general elections, while we hope and urge that Lam Thye could reconsider his decision to retire from politics, and retake his place in the very forefront of the political battle in the next general elections to write a new page in Malaysian political history.

However uphill the struggle, we must ensure that in the next general elections, people’s power is manifested either in the removal of the two-thirds majority of the Barisan Nasional in Parliamentary, or in the replacement of the Barisan Nasional Government altogether with the appointment of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as Prime Minister in place of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.

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