DAP MP for Batu Kawan, Kasthuri Patto, wrote a touching article on the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the death of her father, P. Patto, one of the giants in the pantheon of Malaysian leaders in the half-century history of the DAP.
Patto was never just an Indian leader as he was always a Malaysian leader.
He dedicated his life not for an Indian Malaysia, definitely not a Chinese Malaysia, but a Malaysian Malaysia where every Malaysian, regardless of whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban; Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian or Taoist is proud to be a Malaysian first and last.
As Kasthuri wrote:
“He (Patto) gave up 18 months of his life behind bars, away from his wife and two daughters, away from his whole family, away from his party cadres, comrades, friends and supporters, all for valiantly fighting for his rights, for following his conscience and principles and for fighting for a Malaysian Malaysia where every Malaysian, regardless of skin, colour, race, religion, gender, language, age and political ideology, is treated equally and with respect under the Malaysian sun.
“Fast forward to 2013, during my campaign in the 13th general election when I contested in Batu Kawan, Penang, many of my father’s dear friends, Malays, Indians, Chinese, Sikhs, men and women, came forward with tears in their eyes that they were so happy to see the name ‘Patto’ re-emerge after such a long time.”
We in DAP must always remember the legacy of Patto and other Malaysian giants in the DAP pantheon who have left us, leaders like Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairman, MP par excellence and leading constitutional lawyer; Ibrahim Singgeh, the first elected DAP Perak State Assemblyman; Ahmad Nor, the first elected DAP MP; former MP/SA Datuk Chian Heng Kai who, together with former MP Chan Kok Kit, was detained for four years and nine months under the Internal Security Act; Peter Dason, the first DAP MP in Penang going back to 1969; Sdri Loke Swee Chin, former Perak State Assemblyman woman and DAP Wanita Chief and countless other DAP comrades-at-arms.
I am reminded of my visit in December last year to Bagan Serai, where Patto was born on 19th December 1946, bringing back memories of the DAP contest in the Alor Pongsu by-election in 1974, where Patto and I had campaigned for the DAP by-election candidate Che Rose bin Haji Abdullah and secured some 3,500 votes, which included a significant Malay voter support in the area.
As I said in Bagan Serai in December last year, one common value the early leaders of DAP shared in great bounty was our love for the country and our commitment and dedication to make Malaysia a better place for future generations.
“We were 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 Member 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 be the be-all and end-all of our political involvement, but only as a means to achieve our political ideals and aspirations.”
This is an important reminder to all DAP leaders, especially with the activation of a very high-powered black operation to continue to demonize the DAP as anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Rulers although we have repeatedly reaffirmed our endorsement and commitment to the fundamental features of the Malaysian Constitution.
No one can be loyal and committed to the fundamental principles of the Malaysian Constitution if he is anti-Malay or any racial group in the country; anti-Islam or anti any religion in the country; or anti-Malay Rulers or the institution of constitutional monarchy.
I had been the most demonized political leader in the past 50 years. I was even accused of being responsible for the May 13, 1969 riots, leading the street demonstrations in Kuala Lumpur, making anti-Malay and anti-Islam epithets although I was never even in Kuala Lumpur on that day because I was in Sabah.
In our plural society today, there are still Chinese who are living completely in the Chinese world, Malays who are living in a completely Malay world, Indians who are living in a completely Indian world, and the same goes with the Ibans and the Kadazans.
Our greatest challenge is how to reach out to them, the Chinese living in a completely in the Chinese world, Malays living in a completely Malay world, Indians living in a completely Indian world, to share with them a larger Malaysian picture and perspective – to share our ideals that this beloved Malaysian nation belongs to all of us, that we have a shared destiny.
This is what the DAP had embarked on 50 years ago, the mission for which Patto had lived and died for but it is an unfinished business.
It is no easy task. We may even fail as there is no guarantee of success. But what we can be sure that if this Malaysian mission fails, then there is no way that Patto’s Malaysian Dream which we are share can succeed.
Patto’s Malaysian Dream is the Dream of all patriotic Malaysians.
We must therefore labour to realise the Malaysian Dream whatever the odds.