Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, when opening the 25th Anniversary DAPSY-Wanita DAP Special Joint Convention held at Chin Kang Association, Penang on Saturday, November 30, 1991 at 3 p.m.
DAP pledges to continue to be in the forefront in the 1990s to defend constitutional rights and fundamental liberties of Malaysians, including the constitutional right, status and protection for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education
The DAPSY-Wanita DAP Special Joint Convention is the first of three historic events to be held in Penang today and tomorrow to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Party.
The other two events are the 25th Anniversary Dinner tonight and the 25th Anniversary Congress tomorrow.
The DAP is 25 years old. Every leader and member can take pride in our political struggle, contribution and achievements for a quarter of a century, not for self-gain or benefit, but for political idealism and principles for freedom, justice and equality, and because of our great love for our country and our highest sense of patriotism.
Party leaders at all levels can achieve a lot for themselves personally in the past 25 years if they had chosen to place self before society, gain above principles and comfort over sacrifice.
We have chosen a different path, because we have collectively made a conscious decision that there is a more useful, noble and honourable way to make of our life – not just to make money, acquire riches, accumulate titles or chase after positions, but to make a contribution and difference to the quest of humanity for freedom, justice and equality.
In the 25-year struggle, we made mistakes, suffered setbacks and experienced failures. Many had paid the price of our convictions. But we also have our successes, triumphs and breakthroughs.
This is why the DAP has carved out an indisputable place in Malaysian politics emerging as the second largest political party after UMNO in terms of electoral support, and why we had consistently secured 17 to 21 per cent of national votes cast since the 1974 general elections, as shown by the following figures:
General Elections Parliament
1969 286, 606 (11.9%)
1974 387, 863 (18.3%)
1978 664, 433 (19.1%)
1982 815, 473 (19.6%)
1986 975, 544 (21.1%)
1990 960, 000 (17.2%)
Leaders of the DAP, DAPSY and Wanita DAP are gathered in Penang for the triple Silver Jubilee events to gloat over our past, but to prepare for the future.
The triple DAP 25th anniversary celebrations in Penang will go down in DAP history as important dates because they also mark the launching of a 24-month Party Reform to make the DAP a greater, more effective and powerful political force in the next few decades.
DAP carrying out a 24-month Party Reform so that it could become even more successful than in the past 25 years
When in the last few months, the DAP considered and discussed the need for a Party Reform, some of our political opponents, in particular the MCA, mistook this as a sign of the break-up, disintegration and imminent end of the DAP.
MCA leaders were so mistaken that they developed ‘Dutch courage’ with the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, declaring an all-out war against the DAP. The MCA leaders must have realised their great mistake by now.
The DAP is carrying out a 24-month Party Reform movement because with our tradition and history of success in the past 25 years, we have the conditions to undertake a process of revitalization, reinvigoration and renewal.
The DAP is not carrying out Party Reform because the DAP is a failure as there would then be nothing to reform at all! In other words, the DAP is carrying out the Party Reform so that we can become even more successful in the future than in the past 25 years.
The DAP leadership expects DAPSY and Wanita DAP to play important roles in the Party Reform to better equip the party to face the challenges in the next few decades.
I therefore call on DAPSY and Wanita DAP to spread their influence to motivate the youth and the women in Malaysia to take their rightful place in the political struggle to shape and determine the destiny of the nation.
The 24-month Party Reform is important for the DAP is faced with ever-changing political challenges and scenarios. However, although the issues, challenges and scenarios my change, the DAP must remain faithful to the underlying principles and objectives for which the party was founded – democracy, human rights, socio-economic justice and national unity.
In the past 25 years, the DAP was in the forefront to defend and uphold the constitutional rights and fundamental liberties of Malaysians and I can pledge behalf of the DAP leadership that in the 1990s, the DAP will continue to be in the forefront to defend the constitutional right and fundamental liberties of Malaysians, including the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education.
The DAP will continue to defend, protect and uphold the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education even if we have to do it alone
The recent DAP-MCA controversy is a good example of the changed political scenario in the country, where the DAP seems to be the only force left to stand up for the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education.
In the past, there were other forces and voices who had always been very vigilant in the defence of the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education, but they seem to have become silent at present.
Not only that, the DAP is also criticised for standing up for the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education when we exposed the MCA leadership for making the greatest concession in its 42-year history and challenged the MCA leaders to justify their action.
The DAP will continue to defend, protect and uphold the constitutional right of Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education, even if we have to do it alone on our own. We will hold the situation until we can get more people to see the importance of standing up to the constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools.
DAP will not allow the MCA leadership to destroy its 25-year struggle to defend the constitutional right and protection of the Chinese primary schools with its greatest concession in 42-year history
The DAP will not allow the MCA leadership to destroy its 25-year struggle to defend the constitutional right and protection of Chinese primary schools with its greatest concession in its 42-year history.
In my first speech in Parliament in February 1971. I spoke about Article 152 of the Constitution, and in the past 20 years in Parliament, DAP MPs had returned again and again to the constitutional mother-tongue education.
This is why the DAP cannot take lightly the new MCA policy concession as announced by the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, in Bukit Mertajam that the Chinese primary schools do not have any constitutional right, status or protection, but exist purely because of the Education Act of the Barisan Nasional government.
Having spoken up in Parliament for 20 years that the Constitution guarantee the use of Chinese and Tamil as medium of instruction in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, how can the DAP allow the MCA leadership to renounce and deny the constitutional status and guarantee of Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and to reduce the constitutional guarantee for Chinese primary schools to merely for the study of Chinese as one language in the schools.
The DAP Petaling Jaya Declaration in August 1981 declared: “In the interests of racial harmony and national unity in the1780s, the DAP calls on the Barisan Nasional Government under the leadership of the new Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to make a clear-cut commitment to the original meaning and substance of the constitutional guarantee of Article 152 (1) of the Malaysian Constitution as a guarantee to the free use of the other languages as a medium of instruction, as in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and Chinese Independent Secondary Schools.”
We never thought in our wildest imagination that ten years later today, the problem should come from the MCA and not from extremist and chauvinist UMNO leaders, and that it is MCA leadership which is making the concession that there is no constitutional right, basis, status and guarantee for Chinese primary schools!
This is why I had wanted to meet the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, to find out why the MCA leadership has made this great concession.
I wanted to ask him whether he is aware of the High Court judgment in the 1971 case of Melan Abdullah V. Public Prosecutor where Ong, C. J. said:
“the meaning ordinarily conveyed by the words ‘Abolish Tamil or Chinese medium schools in this country’ is clear and unambiguous. They call in question the teaching of Tamil or Chinese. The sub-heading (‘Abolish Tamil or Chinese medium schools in this country’) may not unfairly be described as a clarion call for the abolition of Tamil and Chinese schools; at least, it posed a challenge to the continued application of Article 152 of the Constitution.”
Can Liong Sik and the MCA leadership explain why they have conceded away the constitutional right of Chinese primary schools, when there is such a High Court judgment affirming the constitutional right and status of Chinese primary schools?
I am prepared to welcome Liong Sik if he comes to DAP Headquarters for I will prove to him that the MCA’s attacks on the DAP on Islamisation policies are distortions and lies
In this connection, I do not understand why a proposed meeting between two political leaders of different political parties should be regarded as “unreasoning disturbance”.
The MCA leaders accused me of ‘breaking paragraphs and distorting’ the stand of Kim Sai and the MCA leadership on their concession on the constitutional right and status of Chinese primary schools.
The MCA leaders should be very happy that I offered to visit the MCA Headquarters to meet with Liong Sik, for the MCA leaders would be able to produce proof as to how I had ‘broken paragraphs and distorted’ Kim Sai and the MCA leadership on the matter.
Instead the MCA leadership which claims to have 530, 000 members, reacted as if they were facing a nuclear attack just because I was going to visit MCA Headquarters – so much so that the MCA Presidential Council had to specially adopt a resolution to declare me a persona non grata!
The DAP is different. For instance, we charge the MCA leaders of distorting the DAP’s stand on the question of Islamisation, Islamic State and PAS policies and programmes in Kelantan. If Liong Sik dare to declare that he is prepare to come to DAP Headquarters to discuss it with me, I will gladly welcome him because I would be able to produce all the evidence to show how irresponsible and dishonest the MCA leaders had been in distorting the DAP stand.
I can even give Liong Sik a personal assurance and guarantee that there would be no abusive banners or DAP ‘roughnecks’ to greet him when he visits the DAP Headquarters, and that he would be treated with all the civility, courtesy and hospitality typical for Malaysians, or a Chinese with 5, 000 years of civilization!
There is no reason why a meeting between Liong Sik and myself or between any two political leaders should get out of hand. The meeting between Liong Sik and myself at the MCA Headquarters inin March 1990 over the issue of the KSM-Multi-Purpose Sdn. Bhd. Investment Fund had to be called off because as host, the MCA leaders deliberately allowed it to get out of control, with national MCA leaders turning it into shouting match.
In fact, I was surprised in March last year when Liong Sik suggested that our meeting be opened to the press. This was why I had sent Liong Sik an eight-point format for our second meeting, so that it could be held in an orderly and peaceful manner.
However, I know Liong Sik would not dare to entertain the thought of coming to DAP Headquarters to discuss the issues of Islamisation policies detrimental to non-Muslim rights, for the MCA President knows that it is the MCA which is most responsible for such laws, as in the case of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment in 1989 and the Pahang Islamic Law Administration Enactment passed in the Pahang Assembly two days ago.
The political culture between the DAP and MCA is very different because the DAP stands on principle and the best interest of the people, and we have nothing to hide.
The coming years will be exciting times and challenges’ for DAPSY and Wanita DAP, and I wish DAPSY and Wanita DAP a fruitful Convention which will enable both to save democracy, restore human rights, establish socio-economic justice and ensure national unity.