Zainuddin Maidin should thank the DAP’s great nation-building contribution in halting assimilation and setting the country on the course towards integration instead of spearheading false accusations of chauvinism and talking about “eliminating” DAP

Media Statement
Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday):  On his promotion as Deputy Information Minister, Datuk Zainuddin Maidin pledged to wipe out DAP and Dong Jiao Zong alleging that they are “extremist and chauvinist”. 

It is clear from the various reports in the printed and electronic media on his celebratory press interview yesterday on his elevation as Deputy Information Minister  that he is the mastermind of the  Barisan Nasional propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme” which was camouflaged as prime-time news and telecast over the various language  television news for three consecutive nights from Saturday to Monday (16th-18th November 2002) in a most biased,  dishonest and malicious attack on the DAP and Dong Jiao Zong as “extremist and chauvinist”, distorting history altogether.


This is because in his interview, Zainuddin blamed Dong Jiao Zong for causing the UMNO-MCA split before the 1959 general election (Malaysiakini 20.11.2002).  This was  also the message in the first segment of the three-part propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme”, which alleged that the Dong Jiao Zong Chinese educationists were responsible for the MCA-UMNO political showdown before the 1959 general election, when the MCA “Young Turks” led by the new MCA President, Lim Chong Eu demanded at least one-third allocation of the parliamentary seats and which was regarded as a “stab in the back” by the UMNO President Tunku Abdul Rahman and that Chong Eu later  capitulated and apologized to Tunku and explained that his action was forced by the Chinese educationists.


It is not for  me or the DAP but  Dong Jiao Zong and Chong Eu to give the correct historical version as well as for Malaysians to find out whether RTM will allow them to give their side of the story or whether RTM will be doubly unfair to distort the present as well as the past.


I only wish to refer to Zainuddin’s wild and baseless attacks on the DAP.  Zainuddin should thank the DAP’s great nation-building contribution in halting assimilation and setting the country on the course towards  integration instead of spearheading false and baseless accusations of chauvinism and extremism and talking about “eliminating” DAP.


I was the first to publicly congratulate Zainuddin and the government on his first appointment as Senator in March 1998, hoping for two things::


Firstly, that it will mark the end of the Senate as a “rubbish-bin” for political has-beens, rejects and deadwood and the beginning of  appointment of Senators who fulfil the constitutional criteria of having  "achieved distinction in the professions, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities or social service"; and


Secondly, that he will be bring to public life the journalistic principles and ethics which he should have imbibed in his life-time in journalism, honouring truth, justice and fair play, and be a  voice of moderation, tolerance, good sense and sanity.


This was why when Zainuddin was first appointed parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Information in January 2001, I asked why a “giant” of Malaysian journalism - and one newspaper even  described him  as "synonymous with Malay journalism in the country" in his four decades as a journalist – was given such a “pygmy appointment” and  not made the Minister for  Information.


But in less than two weeks,  in February last year, Zainuddin showed his true colours and I had occasion to say that he had “picked up the worst in politics less than a fortnight after being sworn in as parliamentary secretary when he should have introduced into politics the best in journalism after 40 years as journalist  in respect for the truth”.


Zainuddin had gone from bad to worse in the past 21 months, as illustrated by the unfair, dishonest and malicious propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme”, which was why I was the first to deplore his promotion  as Deputy Information Minister although I was the first to applaud his appointment as Senator in 1998, saying that he should actually be sacked as Parliamentary Secretary.


In the second segment of the propaganda feature, “Bahaya Cauvinisme”, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad  was quoted as saying that the government does not implement a policy of assimilation in nation-building in Malaysia.


Zainuddin should telecast  over all television channels a feature on “Bahaya Assimilasi”, highlighting what Mahathir had said on the subject, as for instance, in an exclusive interview with  Utusan Malaysia on 7th August 1996, where the Prime Minister announced the end of the policy of  assimilation, saying:


"PM: Zaman berubah. Kalau dahulu tumpuan ialah kita kepada asimilasi. Di mana-mana negara juga tidak ada lagi usaha untuk 'asimilasi', bahkan di Amerika Syarikat mereka sering bercakap berkenaan dengan 'roots' asal-usul mereka. Jadi kalau kita sudah terima bahawa itu tidak mungkin, kita perlu cari jalan lain untuk merapatkan perhubungan antara kaum ini. Seperti kata De Bono, Lateral Thinking, kalau kita tidak boleh merentas satu jalan maka kita pergi ke jalan lain untuk sampai ke matlamat yang sama."


RTM should also telecast Mahathir’s admission of the failure of the policy of assimilation and its abandonment in an interview with TIME Magazine in its December 9, 1996 issue where he said:


“Mahathir: The idea before was that people should become 100% Malay in order to be Malaysian. We now accept that this is a multi-racial country. We should build bridges instead of trying to remove completely the barriers separating us. We do not intend to convert all the Chinese to Islam, and we tell our people, the Muslims, 'you will not try to force people to convert'."


Such a feature on “Bahaya Assimilasi” should also quote Mahathir’s statement reported in The Star of Sept. 11, 1995 where he said “when he was fighting for the Malay cause per se, he was young and his thoughts were that of an inexperienced politician” but that he has come to accept that “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”.


This is why I had said that Zainuddin should thank the DAP for our  nation-building contribution as there can be no doubt about  the DAP’s major  role in halting assimilation and setting the country on the course towards integration in nation-building.


Bigger Barisan Nasional and UMNO leaders than Zainuddin had tried to “wipe out” the DAP in the past three decades and failed, but  Zainuddin is welcome to try his luck in wanting to “wipe out” DAP.  But he should not forsake the ethical principles of truth, fair play and justice, especially in the holy month of Ramadan. At minimum, he should apologise for the unfair, dishonest and malicious propaganda feature “Bahaya Cauvinisme”  camouflaged as prime-time TV news and as a  former “giant of Malaysian journalism” respect the right of DAP and Dong Jiao Zong to reply on public television with feature programmes of our own. 


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman