Malaysian Dream movement must dare to face daunting tests and obstacles but we must be fortified by the conviction that truth and justice will eventually prevail

I said a few days ago that Pakatan Harapan must learn the lessons from the 22-month Pakatan Harapan Government whose five-year mandate was cut short by the Sheraton Move conspiracy which brought in a backdoor, undemocratic and illegitimate government and one lesson is to be more aware of power of lies, falsehood, fake news and disinformation.

I have denied that DAP has any de-Chinese, de-Malay, de-Indian, de-Kadazan or de-Iban policy, as it is very opposite of what the DAP is trying to do – that Malaysians will have multiple identities, ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, regional, but their common overriding identity must be that of a Malaysian.

But I am still attacked for wanting to de-Chinese the DAP, and my comments on the Jawi issue in 2019 was used as an example.

I am really at a loss as to how my comments on the Jawi issue in 2019 can be used as an example.

Firstly, I was accused of abandoning my stand on Jawi in 1984, which I stated in a speech to the Selangor State DAP Committee on 1st June 1984. This is what I said then (speech available on the website):

“The DAP is opposed to the introduction of Jawi as a compulsory subject for the primary schools, for it is clearly against the Constitutional provision in Article 152 which provided for the national language to be Rumi script of Bahasa Malaysia. The Jawi script therefore is not part of the national language or official language.”

The DAP stand on Jawi, whether in 1984, 2019 or 2021, is unchanged.

This was I said in Salem in Tamil Nadu in August 2019 over the controversy over Jawi in the Year 4 Bahasa Malaysia curriculum for Chinese and Tamil primary schools:

  • Jawi is not compulsory but optional for students in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, and that there will be no compulsion, learning or examination of Jawi.
  • Plans to revise the curriculum to include Jawi in Std. 4 Bahasa Malaysia textbook in 2020 was decided by the Barisan Nasional government in 2014-2016.
  • The statement from the Education Ministry that “Although the plan to introduce khat in schools will proceed, the ministry will still accept the views of various parties to ensure that there is fair consideration” indicates that the Education Ministry is still open to views and consultation from all groups and parties concerned.

How was my stand on Jawi in 2019 contrary to my stand on Jawi in 1984?

Secondly, I was accused of saying that one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian. This is a downright lie as I had never said such a thing. This is what I said in 2019:

“When I was first detained under the Internal Security Act in 1969, I taught myself Jawi in detention. It did not make me any less of a Chinese, and may have helped in making me more of a Malaysian.”

Did I say that one must learn Jawi to be a Malaysian? No. Why then are people saying that I have said such a thing to justify their allegation that DAP is trying to de-Chinese the DAP?

Similarly, the DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng was accused of declaring that he was not a Chinese when he became the Finance Minister.

He never said it.

Is there any Malaysian in the country who will say he or she is not a Malay or Chinese or Indian or Kadazan or Iban?

Of course not. The battle for the soul of Malaysia is whether we can get the overwhelming majority of Malaysians to regard themselves as Malaysian first, and their ethnicity, religion, language, culture or region second.

What Guan Eng was stressing in May 2018 was that he would be Finance Minister for all Malaysians and not just for the Malaysian Chinese.

Is there anything wrong with such an outlook?

What form of nation-building should be pursued in multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia – assimilation or integration?

In 1994, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his 13th year as the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, publicly announced that the Barisan Nasional government had given up its nation-building policy of assimilation as it had realised that this was unsuitable for a plural society like Malaysia and that integration and not assimilation should be the basis of the nation-building process in the country.

But apart from assimilation and integration, there is a third alternative of nation-building: no assimilation and no integration but where different communities live side by side but separately under the same political system.

I have always advocated integration – not assimilation nor a nation building which is neither assimilation nor integration, but merely to let the separate communities to live by side although under the same political system.

There are Chinese who live completely in the Chinese universe of their own, without inter-acting with other races; just as there are Malays and Indians who live completely within their own respective Malay or Indian universes.

This is not the Malaysia that I strive for.

The Malaysia I want to see is one where the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans and Ibans come out of their own universes to interact with other communities; to learn, appreciate and accept that Malaysia is not to be identified with any one community but with all the different communities who have made the land their mother country – where a Chinese has not betrayed race and culture for his exquisite Jawi skill, a Malay has not betrayed race and culture because of his Bharatanatyam repertoire, or an Indian betrayed race and culture because of his mastery of Chinese calligraphy.

In other words, a Malaysian is a Chinese who is not 100 per cent Chinese but has an extra dimension which could be described as Malaysia-plus; a Malay who is not 100 per cent Malay but with a Malaysia-plus dimension; and an Indian who is not 100 per cent Indian but with a Malaysia-plus dimension.

One question all Malaysians must ask: Who is the “Other” in the Malaysian context?

Is the “Other” the Chinese and Indians to a Malay Malaysian, the Malays and Indians to a Chinese Malaysian, and the Malays and Chinese to an Indian Malaysian?

If this is the answer, then we have not yet succeeded in Malaysian nation-building, for the “Other” must be a non-Malaysian, whether from Indonesia, China or India or any other part of the world.

The pressing importance in Malaysia with regard to education is to introduce reforms so that Malaysian students in international assessments can attain above global average results and be ranked in the top one-third of world countries instead of being placed in the lowest one-third bracket as is the position today.

Malaysia seems to be trapped in an extraordinary situation which, if not addressed, will only lead to greater division and disunity, stagnation and failure to leverage on the best values and qualities of the Islamic, Chinese, Indian and Western civilisations which meet in confluence in Malaysia to build a great Malaysian nation.

This extraordinary situation is one where the Malays feel threatened, the Chinese feel threatened, the Indians feel threatened, the Kadazans feel threatened and the Ibans feel threatened.

Every community is made to believe that its culture and ethnicity is facing an existential threat.

But who is creating all these threats to all racial groups in the country?

Not only the various races feel threatened, Islam feels threatened and the non-Islamic religions feel threatened.

Malaysians must develop a new self-confidence of “reaching for the stars”, a new “Malaysia Boleh” spirit, to exorcise the various contrived or imaginary fears and demons for Malaysia to excel itself in various fields of human endeavour so as to achieve a golden age for Malaysia.

This is the substance of the Malaysian Dream.

The Malaysian Dream movement must dare to face daunting tests and obstacles but we must be fortified by the conviction that truth and justice will eventually prevail.

(Speech by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang to DAP members and supporters from Kuala Kubu Baru at the Theatre Impian, Bukit Jalil on Saturday, 17th April 2021)

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