Speech by Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary Genaral and MP for Tanjong on the 70th Brithday Dinner organised by the DAP for DAP National Chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin held at Marco Polo Restaurant on Thesday, 15 Novenber 1994 at 7 pm
DAP pays tribute to Dr. Chen Man Hin as the marathon runner’ in the last three decades for a Malaysian Malaysia Where there is justice, equality and freedom for all Malaysians
Tonight DAP leaders, Mps, SAs, members, supporters and friends are gatheted here to celebrate the 70th birthday of Party Chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin.
This is also a tribute to Dr. Chen Man Hin as the ‘marathon runner’ in the last three decades for a Malaysian Malaysia where is justice, equality and freedom for all Malaysians.
Dr. Chen has created history as the longest-serving chairman of a national political party in Malaysia as he would have served as DAP National for over 29 years.
Dr. Chen’s political commitment and struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia is the longest in the party, exceeding three decades which is much longer than my political involvement which is still short of 30 years.
Even before I took the plunge in politics, Dr. Chen had already won a historic by-election in the Rahang state constituency in Negeri Sembilan in December 1965. Although he stood as an independent candidate (using the flower as his symbol) he was already protem chairman of DAP which was awaiting registration.
It may be very easy to be National Chairman for a political party in power but to be the National Chairman of an opposition party in Malaysia for close to 30 years calla for political convictions, stamina and commitment which are rare qualities for any person at any age and time.
There are those in Barisan National parties who had tried to deride Dr. Chen’s role as National Chairman but these are ignoramuses who cannot even last six months as National Chairman of a national opposition party in Malaysia.
One thing which has impressed me most about Dr. Chen in my three decades of political comradeship and struggle with him is that his gentle exterior encloses a soul of steel. The hardier the political terrain, the more formidable the political challenges, the sturdier is his political commitment and the brighter burns the fire in his eyes.
This is how Dr. Chen had nurtured the party through its most difficult formative years as no opposition party has faced such a more difficult process as the DAP to secure its registration in March 1966.
It was also Dr. Chen who guided the party through the party’s first darkest days immediately after the 1969 general elections when the DAP Secretary General and the DAP National Organising Secretary became non-functional with the former succumbing to pressures and the latter detained under the Internal Securty Act.
Again, during Operation Lalang in 1987 when 16 DAP leaders were detained in the Internal Security Act mass arrests, it was Dr. Chen who played the key role to tide the party through its trials and tribulations.
I have been accused of being a ‘dictator’ in the Party but very few knew that during party crisis and in the critical moment in the Party, Dr. Chen could be even more adamant in standing firm on the principles of a Malaysian Malaysia and in defending the integrity, credibility and the best interests of the Party.
This is why we pay tribute to Dr. Chen tonight as the ‘marathon runner’ for over thirty years for a just, equal and democratic Malaysia.
Dr. Chen is the strongest advocate in the Party for a nation-wide Full Liberalistion campaingn
When we celebrate Dr. Chen’s 70th birthday, it is also a celebration of this chairmanship of the DAP for the last 30 years.
As Dr. Chen’s longest comrade-in-arms in the DAP central Executive Committee, I know that Dr. Chen’s first and foremost political concern is the next general elections.
Although it is now the conventional wisdom among political analysts and political leaders that the next polls would be most favourable to the Barisan National and disastrous for the Opposition, Dr. Chen is more concerned as to how the DAP’s political struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia for the last thirty years could be taken on to a new direction in influencing nation-building polities in the country.
This is why Dr. Chen is the strongest advocate in the Party for launching the Full Liberalisation campaign to transform the ‘minor liberalisation’ in the last three years into a full-fledged ‘Full Liberalisation’ in all aspects of nation-building to give every Malaysian regardless of race an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
There are only a handful of DAP leaders left who have gone through the entire gamut of the DAP political struggle in the last thirty years to appreciate our sense of satisfaction that we have succeeded in our ‘holding operation’ from the 60s to the early 80s to stymie powerful forces which wanted to establish a ‘one language, one culture ‘ Malaysia to create the room for manoevure in the 1990s for the lisberalisation and the democratisation of Malaysia.
I for one am proud to be part to be part of this diminishing band of political idealists led by Dr. Chen, and among others who among others who I see tonight are DAP Deputy Chairman Karpal Singh, Deputy Secretary P. Patto and Liew Ah Kim, Deputy National Treasurer Fong Kui Lun, International Secretary Gooi Hock Seng, CEC members Peter Dason, Chian Heng Kai, Lau Dak Kee, Chua Kow Eng and state Assemblymen S. K. Song, Mahadevan Nair, Loh Jee Mee and Wong Yauk and Abdul Muluk.
I also see many old comrades-at-arms who had been with the DAP in the first days of our political struggle who, although no more in the front ranks of the DAP struggle, are still fully with the cause of a Malaysian Malaysia in both heart and soul, people like former National Treasurer Dr. S. Seeveratnam, Chan Kok Kit, Partrick Jaswant, Victor Daniel and others.
Dr. Chen Man Hin had in the 70s and the 80s opened the road which we hope Lim Keng Yaik and others in the Gerakan, MCA and the Barisan National will travel in the 90s and the 21st century
We have reason to be proud that during that generation of our political struggle, we have opened up the road for the next generation to travel.
The DAP has still a long way to go as what we have seen in the last three years is only liberalization, and not full liberalization which is what the DAP and the people want.
A few days ago, Gerakan President and Minister for Primary Industries Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik called on Dong Jiao Jong to keep in line with development s in South-East Asia and turn our country into a regional centre for Chinese education, and in the process widen the role of Chinese education to assist national and regional development.
Although I had welcomed such a call as the DAP had been advocating for such a policy in the last three decades and had recently issued the National Charter For Mother Tongue Education, I had also criticized Keng Yaik for being an irresponsible Cabinet Minister in making an announcement just for the fun of it and to catch newspaper headlines when it is not part of Government policy.
The important point I want to make tonight is that if there had been no DAP in the last three decades to hold high the banner of multi-racialism, multi-lingualism and multi-culturalism, and extremist forces had been allowed unchallenged to implement one language, one culture policy, there would be no opportunity whatsoever for Keng Yaik to even make such an announcement.
This is what is meant by one generation opening up the road for the next generation to travel. In this case, Dr Chen Man Hin in the 70s and the 80s had open a road which we hope Lim Keng Yaik and others in the Gerakan, MCA and the Barisan Nasional will travel in the 90s and the 21st century. Left to himself, Keng Yaik in the 70s and 80s would have completely closed the road which he is asking Dong Jiao Jong to travel a few days ago.
For instance , from the 60s to the 80s the DAP had called for the establishment of a full and comprehensive system of Chinese education in Malaysia from the primary to the tertiary levels. It was the Barisan Nasional education policy with its ultimate objective which blocked the achievement of such a system all the way up to university level.
However the stout defence of Chinese Independent Secondary Schools and Chinese Primary Schools in those critical times had saved them from closure and extinction so that they can look foreward to the challenge of Full Liberalisation, as spelt out in the DAP National Charter for Mother Tongue Education.
Seventy years old seem to be an old age, but Dr. Chen with his regular runs should be able to be a ‘marathon runner’ for a Malaysian Malaysia not only for thirty years but for another twenty years.
Let Dr. Chen be the inspiration not only for all party leaders and members but for all Malaysian as to the commitment and dedication required of everyone who wishes to contribute to the amelieoration of society and mankind.