By Lim Kit Siang
For 50 years, nobody was bothered about the DAP Johore party election but now it is the top national news and focus – that is what Liew Chih Tong has achieved.
From the political backwaters as the bulwark of a conservative regime that thrives on the politics of race to a front-line state for change and reform in pursuit of the Malaysian Dream to realize Malaysia’s potential as a world-class great nation – that is what Liew Chin Tong had accomplished in his ten years of political life in Johore!
Should we toast him for his achievements, despite his faults and mistakes, or should we condemn him for his success?
Of course, there were mistakes and setbacks, but as a movement, we must learn from our past to create a better future.
DAP has recently been in the news because this is party election time both at state and national levels.
We must allow freedom of expression and criticism of party and the country’s directions but we cannot be blind to external forces which want to split and destroy the DAP.
In the 55-year history of DAP, there had been many attempts to split and destroy the DAP – but they all had failed so far, and not prevented a political party of 20,000 members which fought the first general election in 1969 from being a major political force on May 9, 2018 in helping to achieve the historic result of a peaceful and democratic transition of power in six decades in the nation.
The worst time was in the early seventies, where a top UMNO leader declared that the DAP was “neither dead nor alive” and there was high-powered scheme to crush the DAP, where all the resources and money power of the state were abused to intimidate or buy over DAP Members of Parliament and State Assembly members.
One DAP MP even crossed the floor in Parliament to become a Minister!
DAP did not die or disappear because, as described by the DAP supporter to a news website, “DAP leaders, members and supporters did not flinch when many of them had to pay a heavy price for their political beliefs, losing their personal liberties when detained without trial under the Internal Security Act, prosecuted, convicted and jailed on politically trumped-up charges or victimized in a large variety of ways”.
DAP leaders and activists were detained without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) or dragged to court to be tried under the Police Act, the Sedition Act or the Official Secrets Act but these did not succeed in breaking the spirit and will of DAP leaders and supporters for change and betterment of the people’s lives.
DAP leaders were demonised and character-assassinated, accused on the one hand as anti-Malay and anti-Islam and on the other of having betrayed the rights, position and future of the Chinese (which is an impossibility!).
While we welcome honest debate about the future of the DAP and the nation, we must not be entrapped by our political opponents to split and destroy the DAP by adopting their lies, falsehoods, half-truths, fake news and demonisation.
I am glad that more than a week has passed and I am still waiting for evidence as to how my stand on Jawi in 2019 had betrayed the rights, interests and future of the Chinese in Malaysia or that I have changed in 2019 my stand on Jawi in 1984 or that the DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng had declared that he was not a Chinese when he was appointed Finance Minister, when he was stressing the point that he would be a Finance Minister for all Malaysians.
Frustrations and disappointments about the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government have been brought up.
I have myself said that Pakatan Harapan must learn the lessons from the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government whose five-year mandate was cut short by the Sheraton Move conspiracy which brought in a backdoor, undemocratic, incompetent, kakistocratic and illegitimate government.
Was the DAP responsible for the then Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s speech in the United Nations that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) will be ratified? No.
Did I say that one who does not know Jawi is not fit to be a Malaysian? Never.
Did I change my stand on Jawi in 1984? No.
Did the DAP introduce Jawi for Chinese and Tamil primary schools in 2019? No. It was MCA and MIC who made the decision in September 2015 to change curriculum for Chinese and Tamil primary schools from 2017 to 2022.
Was there any change in the introduction of Jawi for Chinese and Tamil primary schools? Yes. DAP Ministers changed a compulsory introduction to an optional introduction, where there is no compulsion, no examination and no compulsory learning/writing of Jawi.
Unhappiness have been raised about the appointment of the National Chairman as Special Chinese Envoy not accorded the Ministerial rank and the Sarawak DAP Chairman given a full Ministerial post.
These unhappiness are legitimate. I am also unhappy. But if we cannot get what we wanted in these two positions, do we decide to pull DAP out from the Pakatan Harapan government?
If we had done so, we would be accused by our supporters of prioritising the interests of the DAP leaders over the interests of the people.
As one of DAP supporter wrote in a “letter to the editor” column: “In that event, most of us would have condemned DAP for not toeing the line and not finishing the term and blamed DAP for causing a premature collapse of the government.”
Somehow, the dissatisfactions in the DAP is linked with the idea that Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will be Prime Minister for the third time.
I had told many people, including the Opposition Leader and PKR President, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, that Mahathir will not become a Prime Minister for the third time.
This was long before Dr. Mahathir publicly stated to Bernama on April 14, 2021 that he had no wish to become Prime Minister for the third time as he is 95 years old.
I am glad that after my clarification two week ago that there is no DAP policy to de-Chinese, de-Malay, de-Indian, de-Kadazan, de-Iban policy or de-Orang Asli anyone, this baseless allegation of DAP trying to de-Chinese DAP has not been pursued.
DAP stands for the exact opposite - for the Malaysian Dream where all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region will have multiple identities, ethnic, cultural, linguistic, regional, but first and foremost that they are all Malaysians.
After the allegation that the DAP was trying to de-Chinese, there is now the allegation that there is division and conflict between the so-called elitists and the grassroots in the Party. This is most fictional.
DAP cadres are very different from MCA and Gerakan members. DAP cadres all over the country take their responsibility whether as ketua kampongs or ahli majlis very seriously, even spending their own money and resources to serve the people, while MCA and Gerakan members mostly take the opportunity of their appointment as ketua kampong or ahli majlis to see what they can personally gain from it, including getting land with or without titles.
I welcome honest views and criticisms as to how the DAP can better achieve the Malaysian Dream, and go forward to achieve new political breakthroughs for the interests of the nation and people but we must not be blind to external forces out to split and break the DAP.
All DAP leaders, cadres and members have one task and challenge – how to re-inspire, re-motivate, re-energise Malaysians in the pursuit of the Malaysian Dream to be an united world-class great nation and to win in the 15th General Election to implement the promises that we have not been able to fulfil after the 14th General Election.
I know I am making an unusual call.
Normally, calls to contending candidates to close ranks and rally behind the movement is made after an election.
I am making the call to contending candidates to close ranks and rally behind the DAP before election.
This is the way for Johore DAP to set the pace for the rest of the country.
For fifty years, nobody was bothered about the DAP Johore party election but now it is the top national news and focus – that is what Liew Chin Tong has achieved
By Lim Kit Siang