DAP veterans should create space for the emergence of new blood in leadership positions to help in the party renewal process to bring about a New DAP

Speech (2) - Perak DAP State Convention
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Sunday):
A local newspaper reported that I said at the National Press Club in early August that I would be Party Secretary-General for the next two decades, and I had to clarify that I had never made such a statement.

I have no intention to be the DAP Secretary-General for the next two decades until 2,017. In fact, I am giving myself not more than another five years as DAP Secretary-General, probably less. I propose to step down as DAP Secretary-General after the next general elections, unless the Party wants me to relinquish the post earlier.

The greatest challenge of the DAP today after the worst electoral debacle in the April 1995 general elections is to carry out a party renewal and reorganisation to make the DAP relevant to the needs and aspirations of the new generation in the next millennium.

This is why I had sounded the clarion call for a New DAP, for although the DAP is rightly proud of what we have achieved in the nation-building process although we remained constant and loyal to our political principles, the DAP of today cannot fight the battle of yesterday but must be prepared to face the challenges of tomorrow.

This is the the rationale for the Party Reform movement to carry out party renewal, whether in re-thinking of the DAPís policies and strategies, but also in undergoing a renewal through the infusion of new blood and youthful idealism.

DAP must not be seen as a party concerned with history or yesterday, but must be regarded as a political movement fully attuned to the revolutionary changes taking place in our society and the world at large and consonant with the needs to tomorrow and the new era.

This is why the DAP had given such great emphasis on popularising Information Technology (IT) among the people, as IT-literacy, competence and mastery will soon determine whether our children, community and nation would have the edge to compete with the best in the world, not only in the country but on the global basis.

I know there are many people, both inside and outside the party, who question why an opposition party should be taking so strong a stand in popularising IT among the people, when this should be the work of the Government.

Those who raise these questions do not understand the challenges of the new society of tomorrow, for the DAP is popularising IT among Malaysians, not for the sake of the government, but the people themselves.

A New DAP does not mean the abandonment of party principles for freedom, justice and equality but its new interpretation in the new millennium.

Similarly, a New DAP does not mean the ditching of party veterans and the promotion of young blood. This is why I had been at pains to stress on many occasions that the renewal of the DAP to create a New DAP must hinge on a combination of party veterans and new blood to take full advantage of the experience of the old and the idealism of the young.

I had spoken of the importance of the a balanced transition into the new era, involving the "old, middle-aged and young", for we want everyone to continue to contribute in the party renewal and reform process.

However, we must also recognise certain realities. The DAP is 31 years, and the future of the DAP must lay with the youths. This must mean that the "old, middle-aged and young" combination must give added weight to the "middle-aged and young" rather than to the "old".

The creation of a New DAP cannot be a mere slogan, but must represent a new spirit and commitment on the part of all party leaders and activists. It is for this reason that I ask party veterans to create space for the emergence of young blood in leadership positions to help in the renewal process to create a New DAP.

Perak DAP has been in the news in the last few days about the impending battle between the incumbents and the challengers and the slogan of the New DAP had been raised.

I should be feeling very happy because the challengers seemed to have flown my platform for a New DAP, talking my language about the importance of IT, of not fighting battles of the past but to face the challenges of the future.

However, I want to express my dismay that the goal of a New DAP should have become a divisive issue in the Perak DAP state elections.

I am going to be very frank today, for I believe that we are in the DAP because in the final analysis, we believe in the DAPís objective of a democratic, just and equal Malaysia and we are more concerned about the future of the DAP as a whole than that any individual political leader or group.

The Perak DAP State elections is reported to be a direct confrontation between the Ting Chek Ming and Lau Dak Kee forces, with the latter flying the flag of "New DAP".

Both Ting Chek Ming and Lau Dak Kee belong to the first batch of DAP cadres who have made great contribution and sacrifices to the progress and advancement ofr the Party.

Both Ting Chek Ming and Lau Dak Kee had been DAP MP as well as DAP State Assemblymen.

I believe Chek Ming, Dak Kee and even Choo Chin Siang had made important contributions in the partyís struggle for a democratic, just and equal society. They have still important role to play in the struggle of the DAP, but they must be prepared to help bring about a new coalition of "Old, Middle-age and Youth" where the "old" play more of an advisory role rather than occupying the key strategic posts in the State. In this "Old, Middle-Age and Youth" coalition, the "old" should not be playing the leading role, which should be acceded to the "medium and young".

The mass media, as well as the people at large, are expecting a "bloodbath" at todayís Perak DAP State Convention, and if there is such a "bloodbath", it would only confirm in public mind the inability of the DAP to understand and adapt to the challenges of the new milennium. This is not the path to a New DAP but a retrogression to the Bad Old DAP, which had been one of the factors for the disastrous DAP performance in Perak in the 1995 general elections.

I still remember that both Lau Dak Kee and Choo Chin Siong declined the partyís offer to re-nominate them as candidates in the last state general elections which was a public proclamation about party factionalism in Perak DAP. It is time for them as well as other party veterans to help in the creation of a New DAP in Perak by creating space for new blood regardless of camp or faction to provide a new state leadership to regain public confidence and support.

Let me make this bold proposal. To the party veterans, let me say that our role should be to create space for new blood to play leadership roles. The DAP should not only fight old political battles of the past, party leaders and cadres should not perpetuate old divisions inside the Party.

In other words, I am proposing party veterans like Chek Ming, Dak Kee and Chin Siong, should take the lead to withdraw from the frontline to create space for the emergence of new bloods to create a New DAP.

Much as we are looking forward to the next general elections, in expectation of a swing-back of our electoral position, we should be concerned that our election gains in the next elections is not the last gasp of a dying and irrelevant party, but the first salvo of a renewed and regenerated political movement fully conversant with the hopes and aspirations of the new generation in the next millennium and prepared to help shape the destiny of the people in the new era.

I want to see a new Perak DAP emerge from todayís convention, neither a Chek Ming victory, a Dak Kee victory, but a New DAP victory Ė where the best and those with potential, from whichever "menu", would have the opportunity to prove their worth.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong