Lim Kit Siang asks Lim Geok Chan: Is it your money or your principle talking?

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP 25th Anniversary Special Congress Dinner held at Holoman Restau-rant, Anson Road, Penang on Saturday, 30.11.1991 at 8 pm

Lim Kit Siang asks Lim Geok Chan: Is it your money or your principle talking?

Tonight is the DAP 25th Anniversary Special Congress Dinner to celebrate the political struggle of the DAP for a quarter of a century since the registration of the DAP on 18th March 1966.

I want firstly, to pay tribute to the National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, who was the Chairman of the 10-member Protem Committee which established and applied for the registration of the Democratic Action Party on 10th October 1965, and is the sole remaining member of the Protem Committee still active in the present DAP leader-member of the Protem Committee still active in the present DAP leadership.

The DAP had to fight to be born, for the 1966 Societies Act was specially rushed through Parliament to delay or abort its birth. It took the DAP about six months to get registered. This means that while the DAP is celebrating its year-long 25th anniversary, it is already a 26th anniversary for Dr. Chen in banding together likeminded Malaysians to establish the DAP.

Even before the official birth of the DAP on March 18, 1966, the DAP led Dr. Chen had fought and won a political mandate from the people in the Rahang State Assembly by-election on December 11, 1965, although he had to stand as an Independent candidate, using the flower as the symbol.

Dr. Chen Man Hin is the longest-serving Opposition leader in Malaysian politics over 26 years

Dr. Chen holds the distinguished record as the longest-serving Opposition leader in Malaysian politics, having been Chairman of the DAP from its very beginning –for over 26 years when we include his chairmanship of the DAP Protem Committee. Only those who had been in Opposition politics in Malaysia know how hard it is to have the idealism, conviction, commitment and stamina stand tall and firm in the very frontline in Opposition politics for over a quarter of a century.

It is for this reason that the DAP will be specially honouring Dr. Chen at tonight’s Silver Jubilee dinner.

Secondly, I want to pay tribute to the DAP leaders and members who have survived the trials and tribulations; lived through the heartaches, disappointments, setbacks and failures: shared in the breakthroughs, successes and triumphs and contributed to building the DAP into the great political movement it is today; and who still dared not only to dream the big dreams of freedom, justice, unity and solidarity a quarter of a century later but to continue to dedicate their energies and lives to these noble ideals.

DAP leaders at all levels could have achieved a lot for themselves and their family if they had not dedicated their energies and talents to the party, the people and the nation; but we all chose a different path because we want to make a difference not only to our own lives, but to the destiny of the people and nation, and contribute to the quest of humanity for freedom, dignity, justice and equality.

Many DAP leaders and members have the courage of their convictions, sacrificing personal benfit, comfort and even freedom for their beliefs.

This is why the Party is also honouring tonight founding members of the DAP who became members in the first 12 months of the DAP and who are still with use today, veteran members who despite their advanced age are still heart and soul with the Party, and Party leaders who had lost their personal liberties in the pursuit of the cause when detained under the Internal Security Act.

Thirdly, I want to pay tribute to the millions of Malaysians of all races and classes who have given support and encouragement to the DAP in our 25-year struggle. Without the support of the people at large, the DAP will never achieve our position as the second largest political party in Malaysia after UMNO, in terms of national votes cast in general elections.

Tonight’s dinner will be unique in that we will be going ‘Down the Memory Lane’ to remember the joy and laughter, the pain and anguish, the many challenges which we faced together, the six general elections fought by the DAP from 1969 to 1990, the many by-elections in particular the Seremban, Kepayang and Raub by-elections, or the many campaigns we had launched as the mass signature movement to Save the 13 Condemned for consorting with Indonesia Confrontation from the Gallows in 1968; the campaign for the 452 New Villages to be in the mainstream of development resulting in the appointment of a Minister in charge of new villages; the Save Bukit China campaign; the Campaign against Corruption and Malpractices as in the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) Scandal and the United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) North-South Highway Scandal, the battle for human rights and fundamental liberties as in opposing repressive legislation such as the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act, and the fight for Cultural Democracy, in defending, protecting and upholding constitutional right of mother-tongue education.

However, we are gathered in Penang not to just look back into the past. The future is even more important.

Tomorrow, the Party 25th Anniversary Special Congress will take two historic decisions, one to adopt a Tanjung Declaration on the Party’s guiding principles and policies in the 1990s, and the other to officially launch the 24-month Party Reform.

The past 25 years had been trying times for the DAP. The cause of freedom, justice, dignity and equality in Malaysia will always call for great conviction, courage, commitment, stamina and sacrifice.

While we must seek for new frontiers, we must not allow out efforts in the past 25 years to be undermined and erode.

This was why the DAP was not prepared to be silent when the MCA leadership made the greatest concession in its 42-year history in declaring that there is no constitutional right, basis, status or guarantee for Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education.

This was also why I was so shocked when Chinese organisation leader, Lim Geok Chan, accused the DAP of ‘wasting its time on impractical matters’ when we came forward to defend, protect and uphold the constitutional right and status of Chinese primary schools and mother-tongue education.

Is Lim Geok Chan saying that the DAP leaders had been wasting their time on ‘impractical matters’ in the past 25 years, and that when DAP leaders were detained under the Internal Security Act, they deserved to be detained for ‘wasting time on impractical matters’.

If I am not mistaken, Lim Geok Chan would not publicly demand for the release of Operation Lalang detainees, whether they came from opposition parties or civic organisations, including Chinese organisations.

Probably, to Lim Geok Chan, to make such calls and demands to release Malaysians denied their rights under the Internal Security Act would be ‘wasting time on impractical matters’.

I want to ask Lim Geok Chan, whether it is his money or his principle talking!