by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 30th May 1991:
Alex Lee would dare to tell MCA to drop ‘Chinese’ from its name, but would he dare to tell UMNO to drop ‘Malay’ from its name?
Deputy National Unity and Social Development Minister Datuk Alex Lee said on Tuesday that the government was studying the possibility of barring registration of societies and associations whose names bear racial connotations.
Is Alex Lee talking seriously, or is he talking just for the sake of talking?
If the government is serious in this matter, then it should start with the political field to get the political parties to set the example by not having names which bear racial connotations.
I have no doubt that Alex Lee would be very brave, courageous and delighted to tell MCA to drop ‘Chinese’ from its name, and to give the MCA leaders a stern lecture that by having a name which bear racial connotation, the MCA is a great obstacle to national unity – in the same way that the Gerakan leaders had attacked the MCA proposal for a Malaysian Chinese Cultural City as a destroyer of national unity.
But would Alex Lee dare to tell UMNO to drop the name ‘Malay’ on the same argument that it bears racial connotation and is un-Malaysian?
There would be national unanimity that Alex Lee would dare to tell MCA to drop ‘Chinese’ from its name, but would not dare to all UMNO to drop ‘Malay’ from its name.
This raises the very pertinent question as to what concept of national unity is Alex Lee talking about.
It is clear that in the final analysis, when Alex Lee is talking about ‘national unity’, he is talking about the UMNO and UMNO Youth concept of ‘national unity’.
National Unity Advisory Board is a misnomer and should be appropriately renamed ‘Advisory Board for UMNO and UMNO Youth concept of National Unity’.
This is why the newly-formed National Unity Advisory Board is irrelevant to the real problems of nation-building in Malaysia, for with Alex Lee as Vice Chairman of the Board, there is no doubt that the concept of national unity which will be adopted by the Board is the very narrow concept as espoused by UMNO and UMNO Youth.
The National Unity Advisory Board is a misnomer. It should be more appropriately named Advisory Board for UMNO and UMNO Youth’s concept of National Unity.
DAP is prepared to give a full support to the government on measures which can contribute to the achievement of genuine national unity, but will have no truck to promote a national unity which is based on the narrow UMNO and UMNO Youth concept.
For instance, if the government is serious about promoting the sense of Malaysian one-ness, then in the new identity cards being introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs which will replace the present identity cards, the reference to one’s race should be aliminated.
Is the National Unity Advisory Board and the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development prepared to make this urgent recommendation to the Cabinet, and to have it implemented in the new identity card format as the first step to encourage a greater sense of Malaysian oneness and reduce emphasis on one’s ethnic origins?
If the Government is not prepared to make this simple but important decision to eliminate the references of one’s ethnic origins in the new identity card format, then Alex Lee’s statement of the government studying the possibility of barring registration to societies and associations who names bear racial connotations is either empty talk or reflect another development of the narrow UMNO and UMNO Youth concept of national unity.