Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong , Lim Kit Siang ,at the DAP Bagan by-election victory dinner held in Bagan on Wednesday, 20th September 1995 at 8.00 p.m.
Open invitation to young generation of Malaysians to join and reform the DAP and bring in new ideas and concepts to make the DAP a Malaysians party of the 21st century
In the April general election, the DAP suffered the worst electoral defeat in our 29-year party history. In Penang, where the DAP had hoped to form the Penang State Government, we were virtually destroyed scraping through with one State Assembly seat.
In my 29-years of political struggle, which included two terms of Internal Security Act detentions spanning 35 months, arrests and persecution in court including convictions under the Official Secrets Act as well as other forms of trials and tribulations, I had never felt so devastated and desolate as after the April general election results.
Finally, however, we have to ask ourselves whether what we had tried t do in our political commitment, to create a more just, equal, free and united Malaysian society, is worth our sacrifices to face all the political ups and downs, including the devastating result of the April general election.
The silver lining in the disastrous DAP results in the April general election was that the people as a whole were as shocked and traumatised as DAP leaders by the dismal showing of the DAP.
It was not only DAP leaders and cadres who were in a daze after the April general election results, as Malaysians as a whole were also in a daze for they knew that the voice of the DAP in Parliament was the voice of the people, and the weakening of the DAP was a weakening of the people’s voice in Parliament and Malaysian democracy generally.
This is why there was no national celebration over the landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the April general election, where the Barisan Nasional secured not only two-third parliamentary majority but five-sixth majority. Instead of national election, there was nation-wide concern and shock at the DAP’s devastating defeat.
DAP Sole Assemblywoman Chong Eng to move a motion in next Penang State Assembly to rename Bagan as “Bagan Democracy City’
This is also why when the DAP won, the Bagan parliamentary by-election on September 9 with a historic and unbelievable 11.802-vote majority, which is 100 times the DAP majority only four months ago, there was nation-wide relief and joy – for everyone understood that the DAP and Malaysian democracy have been given a new lease of life.
On Sept. 9, the people of Bagan made a clear choice to reject a MCA “longkang” MP and elected a DAP MP to declare on behalf of all Malaysian that the Barisan Nasional government should not mistake the results of the April general election and that Malaysian want both development and democracy!
The voters of Bagan voted for democracy and fully deserve the appellation of “Bagan Democracy City”. It is most regrettable that the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and the Penang Barisan Nasional State Government have refused to give recognition to the wish and well-earned right of the people of Bagan to be renamed “Bagan Democracy City”.
The DAP sole Assemblywoman Chong Eng will move a motion in next Penang State Assembly to rename Bagan as “Bagan Democracy City” and I hope that there would be a courageous and conscientious Barison Assemblyman who would dare to second Chong Eng’s motion.
DAP’s great and historic Bagan by-election victory is the first step of a three-year programme for DAP revival, reform and renewal
It is a great fallacy however for anyone to think that one parliamentary by-election victory, however historic, could undo the landslide victory of the Barison Nasional in the April general election and restore the health of DAP and Malaysian democracy.
All that the great Bagan parliamentary by-election victory means is that DAP and Malaysian democracy have been given a new hope and that the DAP and Malaysian democracy are not heading inexorably down the slippery slope to ruination and destruction, but that there is a new lease of life which might lead to the revival of DAP and the restoration of democracy in Malaysia.
DAP’s great and historic Bagan by-election victory is the first step of a three-year programme for DAP revival reform and renewal.
DAP must make use of the great and historic Bagan parliamentary by-election result as a catalyst for party revival, renewal and reform. I hereby issue and open invitation to the young generation of Malaysian s to join and reform the DAP and bring in new ideas and concepts to make the DAP a Malaysian party of the 21st century.
In the next three years, the priority of the party agenda will the revival and renewal of the DAP.
One of the greatest challenges of the DAP in the next three years is to talent-scout, train and develop a young generation of Malaysians, whether in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Malacca, Sarawak or Sabah to take over leadership positions in the DAP.
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 Mohamad’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-building was illustrated in his dialogue with the Malaysian Students Executive Council of the United Kingdom last week, where he said to realise the goal of Bagan Malaysia, the people should start accepting each other as they are, regardless of race of 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 culture, 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 thought 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 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 cemetry 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 loss of personal freedoms or being persecured in courts for courageously defending and upholding the rights of all races, languages, cultures and religions 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 on 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 ever 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 created 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 a 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 which the DAP and to be more open and liberal on the issues of language, education and culture – what I had called the “Minor Liberalisation” in the past five years.
DAP calls for the abolition of the division of Malaysians into “bumiputeras” and “non-bumiputeras” in keeping with the Anwar’s slogan “We Are All One Family”
Malaysian must not however delude themselves into believing that the Malaysian nation-building process has reached the stage as described by the favouring 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”!