DAP welcomes Mahathir’s more open and enlightened attitude on nation-building in a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which vindicates the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia in the past 29 years


Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the Bintulu DAP Branch August-Moon Dinner in Bintulu on Friday, 15th September 1995 at 8 p.m.

DAP welcomes Mahathir’s more open and enlightened attitude on nation-building in a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which vindicates the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia in the past 29 years

I welcome the prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s more open and enlightened attitude on nation-building in a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia which vindicates the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia in the past 29 years.

Mahathir’s more open and enlightened attitude on nation-bbuilding was illustrated in his dialogue with the Malaysian Student Executive Council of the United Kingdom a few days ago, where he said to realise the goal of Bangsa Malaysia, the people should start accepting each other as they are, regardless of race or religion.

He said that when he was fighting for the Malay cause per se in his early years in politics, he was young and his thoughts were that of an inexperienced politician.

Mahathir said that in future, there would be no nation in the world which would have a single ethnic group as its citizen.

He said while a citizen of a nation may associate himself with the country, he would not be readily prepared to give up his cultural, religion or language.

He said: “Previously, we tried to have a single entity but it caused a lot of tension and suspicions among the people because they through the Government was trying to create a hybrid.

“There was fear among the people that they may have to give up their own cultures, values and religions, this could not work, and we believe that the Bangsa Malaysia is the answer.”

I commend Mahathir for his courage in publicly conceding that in the past, the Barisan Nasional Government had tried a nation-building policy based on assimilation and that such a policy had failed and cannot succeed – and that only a nation-building policy based on integration is suitable for Malaysia.

This was exactly what the DAP had been fighting for in the first 29 years of the DAP political struggle – when there were attempts to impose a ‘One Language, One Culture, One Religion’ Policy in Malaysia, as in refusing to recognise the lion dance and Chinese chess as part of Malaysian culture, the attempt to demolish Bukit China in Malacca – the most ancient Chinese cemetery hill in Malaysia – the most ancient Chinese cemetery hill in Malaysia – or the refusal to accord proper recognition to Chinese language, Chinese primary schools or Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in contributing to national development.

Many DAP leaders had to pay a heavy price in terms of loss of personal freedoms or being persecuted in courts for courageously defending and upholding the rights of all races, languages, cultures and religious in a multi-racial Malaysia – and I myself was detained twice under the Internal Security Act for propounding a policy which Mahathir had outlined a few days ago.

In the sixties, seventies and eighties, when there were political forces trying to impose and implement a “One Language, One Culture, One Religion” nation-building policy, the DAP was the only political voice and force in Parliament and in the country to declare its uncompromising opposition.

If there had been no DAP, and the “One Language, One Culture, One Religion” had been taken to extreme lengths, Malaysia would not have created the conditions to register over eight per cent economic growth for over seven years

There is no doubt that if there had been no DAP in the last three decades, the attempt to impose “One Language, One Culture, One Religion” policy in Malaysia would have been taken to extreme lengths with disastrous results both for national unity as well as development.

For instance, if the “One Language, One Culture, One Religion” policy had not faced strong opposition from the DAP with full backing from the overwhelming majority of the urban electorate and had instead been taken to extreme lengths, Malaysia would not have create the conditions to vie to become a “little dragon” registering over eight per cent economic growth for over seven years.

For the DAP and its leaders, it was lonely and costly stand for a quarter of a century, for Barisan Nasional parties which claimed to represent the Chinese in Malaysia, like the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP gave full support to the “One Language, One Culture, One religion” policy at the time!

I have said that one reason why the DAP suffered its worst general election defeat in the April general election is because the DAP had been too successful in our political struggle.

This is because Mahathir had been compelled as a result of the DAP’s long-standing opposition to a “One Language, One Culture, One Religion” policy to compete with the DAP and to be more open and liberal on the issues of language, education and culture – what I had called the “Minor Liveralisation” in the past five years.

It is a fallacy however to believe that because there had been “Minor Liberalisation” or that Mahathir had publicly conceded a few plural society like Malaysia, that the favourite Mandarin saying of the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that “We are All One Family” had become true in Malaysia.

If Malaysians are genuinely “All One Family”, then DAP calls for the immediate abolition of the division of Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras.

This is because by dividing Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras, Malaysians are being divided into at least two “families”!