DAP into a more united, organized and effective political movement
enrolling the support of Malays, youths and women; strengthen Penang and
Perak as the two front-line states and extend DAPís influence in Sarawak and
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Saturday): DAP is 38 years old. Immediately after the DAPís first general election in 1969, high-level attempts were made to destroy the party, with the then powerful Home Minister, the late Tun Dr. Ismail, announcing that the DAP was already ďone foot in the graveĒ with plans afoot to send the DAPís other foot into the grave!
DAP weathered the baptism of fire in those early years of the party, which included Internal Security Act detention-without-trial and court prosecution/persecution of party leaders under the Sedition Act, the Police Act and the Official Secrets Act, and money politics buying DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen to defect from the party.
DAP survived these trials and tribulations and for close to four decades, had remained true and loyal to our ideals and objectives of a Malaysian Malaysia Ė a democratic, just, progressive and prosperous Malaysia where all Malaysians regardless of race or creed can have an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
What have we achieved in the past 38 years? If success is measured by government positions like Ministers nationally and Exco posts at the State level, as well as titles and money-making opportunities, then DAP had failed dismally.
But if success of a political movement is evaluated by its ability to make a difference in the big national picture and influencing nation-building policies, then DAPís achievements have been quite impressive.
DAPís voice inside and outside Parliament and the State Assemblies close to four decades have made a difference to the quality of life of all Malaysians, even in the nationsís darkest periods of democracy, human rights, accountability, transparency.
Even more important, the DAP had played a pivotal role in the first great nation-building test since Merdeka in 1957 whether integration or assimilation should be the basis of Malaysian nation-building - defeating extremists who rejected the multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural heritage and reality in Malaysia.
This was the significance of the DAP Save Bukit China campaign in 1984, which was not just about the preservation of the most ancient cemetry hill but to compel the Barisan Nasional government to accept the plural characteristics of the Malaysian nation and to abandon the ďone language, one culture, one religionĒ assimilation policy of nation-building.
Malaysia is now in the throes of a second great nation-building test, to preserve and promote the 1957 social contract and Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysian Agreement and the 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State Ė whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO.
The greatest challenge of the DAP in the next three years is to transform the DAP into a more united, organized and effective political movement enrolling the support of Malays, youths and women; strengthen Penang and Perak as the two front-line states and extend DAPís influence in Sarawak and Sabah to work with all political and social forces to defend and promote the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state; restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance; and position Malaysia as a world-class economic, educational and information power in the global arena to take on the challenges of globalization.
In the past 35 years, I have been either Secretary-General or Chairman of the party. I have indicated to party leaders that I will decline appointment to anyone of these two key party posts after this Congress. The time has come for a new DAP leadership to lead the party to continue to make it relevant to the hopes and aspirations of 25 million Malaysians for a more just, democratic, progressive and prosperous society.
I want to thank all party leaders, delegates, members and supporters who have given me the fullest support in the past 35 years either as Secretary-General or Chairman, and I ask them to give similar support to the new top leadership. The Congress must send out a clear message that the party is fully united behind the new DAP leadership to chart the future of the party and the nation and that we are capable of overcoming our own differences so that we can effectively provide leadership to the people and country.
I am not about to call it quits however in the DAP or in Malaysian politics, and I am prepared to serve in whatever other capacity called upon by the Party to further the cause of a just, democratic Malaysian Malaysia which has brought us together in the DAP in the past 38 years.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman