I am torn between those who are concerned that I may again be jeopardising my personal freedom for speaking up and others who believe that I have betrayed my principles and the DAP for being too supportive of Mahathir


Speech (3)
- Penang DAP economic crisis ceramah
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Friday): I am torn between those who are concerned that I may again be jeopardising my personal freedom for speaking up and others who believe that I have betrayed my principles and the DAP for being too supportive of Mahathir

In fact, I find myself in a very difficult position. On the one hand, supporters have expressed their concern that I may again be jeopardising my personal freedom for speaking up during the national economic crisis and I have received many advice asking me to lie low, as there is always a possibility of a new wave of repression in the form of a second Operation Lalang if scapegoats have to be found to distract public attention from the failure to grapple with the root problems of the national economic crisis.

I do not look forward with any relish to the possibility of being a third-time guest of His Majestyís Government under the Internal Security Act. Political leaders, however, must be prepared to diligently and conscientiously discharge their political responsibilities, and in this case, at a time of national economic crisis, to speak up on behalf of the people so that the Government can shake out of its denial syndrome and co-operate with the people so that the government, society and people can respond as one unit to tide the country through the economic crisis in as short a time as possible and with the minimum of avoidable pain, sufferings and hardships to the people.

If in the process, political leaders have to pay the heavy price of losing their personal freedom, they have no choice but to face such a consequence.

I thank Malaysians who have expressed their concerns and care for me.

On the other hand however, there are people who believe that I have betrayed my principles and even the DAP cause for being so supportive of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.

As proof of this belief that I have "changed", even imputing that I have a personal motive and a hidden agenda for such a "change", they point to the various occasions where I had expressed my support for Mahathir, such as:

In some cases, the view that I have betrayed my principles and the cause of the DAP is the result of misunderstanding arising from the paucity of information in the mass media, but there are cases of such a view despite being able to get full access to my speeches and statements.

What I find particularly galling is the allegation of some people who are suggesting that I am seeking high office in the Barisan Nasional Government by being uncharacteristically supportive of the Prime Minister, as in the confidence motion in Parliament last November.

What is overlooked is that I had declared support for Mahathir in rejecting any foreign attempt to interfere in the domestic political affairs of Malaysia as demanding for Mahathirís resignation as Prime Minister, as whether Mahathir should resign as Prime Minister is something to be exclusively decided by Malaysians and not by foreigners, whether Americans, British or Europeans.

However, while DAP was prepared to give full support to Mahathir to reject foreign attempts to interfere in the domestic political affairs of Malaysia, DAP MPs did not participate in the voting of the confidence motion, for we wanted a separate motion and debate on the confidence question - which should be a verdict on the record of Mahathirís premiership and had nothing to do with the US Congressmenís resolution asking Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister. I know I will continue to be torn between those who are concerned that I may again be jeopardising my personal freedom for speaking up fearlessly during the national economic crisis and others who believe that I have betrayed my principles and the DAP cause for being too supportive of Mahathir. I leave it to the people and to the Party to pass judgement whether I am acting in the highest interests of the people and nation or whether I am in pursuit of a secret personal agenda for my own personal gain and purpose.

(16/1/98)


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