I asked around just now when the Alor Pongsu State Assembly by-election in Perak was held but nobody seems to know.
It was 41 years ago when the DAP contested in the Alor Pongsu by-election in 1974, and although the UMNO/Barisan Nasional director of operations for the Alor Pongsu by-election announced on nomination day that the DAP’s Malay candidate would not secure more than 2,000 votes, i.e. getting only non-Malay voter support, DAP polled about 3,500 votes – indication that the DAP Malay candidate was able to secure significant Malay voter support as well.
The Alor Pongsu by-election is testimony that right from the beginning of DAP’s formation 50 years ago, DAP had never regarded itself as a Chinese or non-Malay party, never an anti-Malay and anti-Islam party, but a party for all races and religions in the country.
DAP contested the Alor Pongsu by-election not because we expected to win, but part of a long-term reach-out by the party to all Malaysians and regions with the DAP message for national unity, justice, freedom, development and good governance for all.
I am pleasantly surprised by an old photograph taken when I visited Bagan Serai at the end of 1970, which was shortly after I was released from the first Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, and I thank the strong party supporter, who was in also in the photograph 45 years ago, who had presented with an enlarged copy of the photograph.
Bagan Serai is the birthplace of one of the foremost DAP leaders – DAP Deputy Secretary-General, Member of Parliament and Perak State Assemblyman P. Pattoo, born on 10th December 1946 who unfortunately died at the young age of 48 on 12th July 1995. His daughter, Kasthuri Patto is now the MP for Batu Kawan.
The old 1970 photograph has taken me down the memory lane and the DAP’s political struggle for the past five decades.
One common value the early leaders of DAP like our founder Chairman Dr. Chen Man Hin (still healthy and strong at the age of 91), departed comrade-in-arms like Karpal Singh, Ibrahim Singgeh (the first Malay DAP State Assemblyman in Perak in 1969), Peter Dason, Loke Swee Chin and Patto shared in great bounty is our love for the country and our commitment and dedication to make Malaysia a better place for future generations.
We are in politics not for what we can get from it for ourselves whether in terms of monetary gain or material advancements, but for what we can do to translate our ideals and convictions to ensure that there is genuine national unity, greater justice, freedom, good governance and better society for all Malaysians.
We set out in politics without any idea of wanting to become Members of Parliament or State Assembly representative, but in terms of what we can do to serve and improve the nation and make it closer to our ideals and aspirations.
In the process, we became Members of Parliament or State Assembly representatives but we must never lose sight of the fact that becoming elected as MPs or SAs should not become the be-all and end-all of our political involvement, but only as a means to achieve our political ideals and aspirations.
For the same reason, we hope that with the formation of Pakatan Harapan following the establishment of Parti Amanah Negara to fill the political vacuum and void which had caused enormous popular disappointments because of the demise of Pakatan Rakyat, we must work hard to win Federal government in Putrajaya and six state governments in the 14th General Election, but we must never be a slave to the idea of just becoming a government.
In other words, while we must work hard and toil without rest to achieve the objective of achieving Federal power and win six state governments in the 14GE, we must not be afraid NOT to be the government-of-the-day if we have to compromise our fundamental principles and beliefs.
This brings me to Najib’s UMNO Presidential speech last Thursday, where he presented UMNO members and Malaysians with two false choices – whether the country is to be led by “a coalition led by Umno or another led by or dominated by DAP”.
He even told the lie that “if UMNO is rejected, this country will be ruled by those who are against the Islamic struggle and reject the Malay and bumiputera agenda”.
The question that immediately surfaces if whether Najib will accept the democratic verdict of the voters in the 14GE rejecting UMNO/BN and demanding for a change of government in Putrajaya through the ballot box or will he resort to undemocratic powers like the National Security Council Act to suppress the democratic voice and choice of the people even without a Proclamation of Emergency by Yang di Pertuan Agong?
Let Najib answer.
(Speech at launching of Parti Amanah Negara in Bagan Serai on Mon, 14th Dec 2015 at 5 pm)