Senior Lim: DAP is for all Malaysians, celebrates unity in diversity

IN DAP’s 55-year history, it had been the victim of many lies, falsehoods and baseless allegations.

The DAP had been falsely accused of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-royalty when throughout our history, we have remained committed to the Malaysian Dream for the country to become a world-class nation, which is only possible if all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region are united under the Malaysian Constitution and Rukunegara to build a harmonious, just, democratic, progressive and prosperous plural nation.

I was accused of causing the May 13, 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur and having led illegal procession along the streets of Kuala Lumpur. I was even accused of having urinated at the official residence of the Selangor Menteri Besar in Kampong Baru, Kuala Lumpur on May 13, 1969!

But I was never in Kuala Lumpur after the 1969 General Election. I was in Kota Kinabalu on May 13, 1969 to campaign for Sabah independent candidates as polling in Sabah and Sarawak were to be held later after Peninsula Malaysia.

The police knew that I had nothing to do with the May 13 riots and that was why I was never questioned about it in my two detentions under the Internal Security Act.

I was accused of being a communist and having come to Malaya when I was 17 years old. In fact, I was born in Batu Pahat eighty years ago, and went to school there from primary standards onwards.

In the 1969 general election, the communists wanted to see me defeated, and that was why in my letter to then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, written from Muar detention centre on 5th August 1969, I expressed my “anxieties for the future of Malaysia”.

In my letter to the Tunku, I made a three-point proposal for forging national unity in the wake of the May 13 racial riots, viz:

(i) The immediate convening of Parliament (a) for an affirmation and pledge by all MPs to the concept and ideal of racial tolerance, understanding and multi-racialism; and (b) to restore the people’s confidence in the democratic process and deny the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) from making political capital from the disturbances;

(ii) The establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes of the May 13 disturbances, and to apprehend and punish the culprits; and

(iii) The establishment of an all-party, all-races royal commission of inquiry to probe into the entire gamut of racial problems in Malaysia, with a view to seek long-term solutions.

Now, there is a social media campaign to accuse me of selling out the rights and future of the Chinese in Malaysia and questioned why the DAP was not fielding only Chinese candidates in all DAP contested seats.

Where we went wrong?

The latest allegation is that DAP wants to “de-Chinese” the DAP, and that the DAP should not “dilute its Chineseness” to belittle or degrade itself just to gain Malay support.

I must be a “superman” – accused of being anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-royalty on the one hand and now anti-Chinese and anti-non-Malay on the other.

There is no truth in such wild allegations.

DAP does not advocate any de-Chinese, de-Malay, de-Indian, de-Kadazan or de-Iban policy, but the very opposite, to accept that Malaysians will have multiple identities, but first and foremost that they are all Malaysians.

In pursuit of the Malaysian Dream for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or region to be united to make Malaysia a world-class nation, I have to bear many crosses. This is the latest cross that I have to bear.

Is this because what I said about Jawi in Chinese and Tamil primary schools in 2019?

I said in Salem, Tamil Nadu in August 2019 that I taught myself Jawi while I was serving my first detention in Muar in 1969 and that it did not “make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian”.

This has been distorted into my saying that one has to learn Jawi to be a Malaysian.

Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation and we should leverage on our unique position where the great Malay/Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western civilisations meet in confluence, to build a great nation.

This is what I said in Bangalore on Aug 5:

“We must be careful not to fall into the trap of conspirators who want to pit race against race, religion against religion to arouse suspicion, distrust and hatred in our plural society to regain political power and work against the flowering of the best of our multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

“Just as a Malay who can speak and write in Chinese does not make him or her less of a Malay in Malaysia, a Chinese who knows Jawi does not make him or her less of a Malaysian Chinese. Probably, the additional acquisition of another language make him or her a better Malaysian – but there must be no compulsion in the learning of another tongue!”

Just as my statement on Jawi had been twisted and distorted into a statement that one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng had been accused of declaring that he was not a Chinese when he became Finance Minister in 2018, when all he said was that he would be a minister for all Malaysians.

As Malaysians, we are all going to have multiple identities – ethnic, religious, cultural.

In the early years of nationhood, it may be understandable for Malaysians to regard themselves as Malays, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan, Iban or Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Taoist first and Malaysian second.

But if after six decades of nationhood we still regard ourselves based on ethnic, religious or cultural identity first and common Malaysian identity second, then it is a failure of our nation-building process.

Whatever the setbacks, we must continue to pursue the Malaysian Dream, based on the principle that power must be used to unite Malaysians to ensure that their common interest of having a better life in terms of economy and jobs, education, housing, health, environment, transportation, respect for the diverse cultures can be met, and that we must reject the thesis of “Power for Power’s sake”. – April 13, 2021


Lim Kit Siang is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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