Formed in October 1965, Democratic Action Party (DAP) Malaysia was formally registered six months later on March 18, 1966 as a social democratic party “irrevocably committed to the ideal of a free, democratic and socialist Malaysia, based on the principles of racial equality, social and economic justice, and founded on the institution of parliamentary democracy”. (SETAPAK DECLARATION, made in the first DAP National Congress in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur on July 29, 1967).
In August 1966, the official organ of the Party, the Rocket, made its inaugural appearance.
In October 1967, DAP joined 55 other social democratic, socialist and labour parties all over the world as a member of the Socialist International (SI) at the SI International Conference in Zurich, Switzerland.
DAP contested its first general election in 1969 and won 13 Parliamentary and 31 State Assembly seats, securing 11.9 per cent of the valid votes cast.
However, DAP experienced its ups and downs in the various general elections contested in the 42 years between 1969 and 2008, from securing only 9 Parliamentary and 11 State Assembly seats in the 1995 general election to capturing 28 Parliamentary and 79 state Assembly seats in the 2008 general election.
Through thick and thin for over three decades, DAP has been second to none in the battle for democracy, justice, equality and a united multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysia.
DAP leaders, members and supporters did not flinch when many of them had to pay a heavy price for their political beliefs, losing their personal liberties when detained under the Internal Security Act, prosecuted, convicted and jailed on politically trumped-up charges or victimized in a large variety of ways.
DAP succeeded in the first 30 years of its struggle to save Malaysia from the catastrophe of permanent national division and eventual disintegration by breaking the hardening mould of a nation-building policy based on assimilation rather than integration.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) government had publicly admitted in 1994 that the assimilation nation-building policy which it had originally attempted to implement, with its “one language, one culture” approach, which refused to recognize the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural reality of the country, was unsuitable for a plural society like Malaysia.
DAP’s consistent and unwavering advocacy of the integration approach to nation-building and uncompromising opposition to any assimilation policy eventually prevailed.
In the 1999 general election, DAP teamed up with Parti Islam SaMalaya (PAS), Parti Keadilan Nasional (Keadilan) and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) to form the Barisan Alternative (BA) in an attempt to shatter the BN political hegemony, attributed to its undisrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority – the root cause of the BN’s political arrogance, undemocratic rule and repression of the fundamental rights of Malaysians.
Unfortunately, however, subsequent events that transpired, especially the insistence of PAS in forming an Islamic State – an idea deemed incompatible with the pluralistic nature of a Malaysian nation cherished by DAP – forced DAP to pull-out from the coalition two years later.
DAP remains unswerving in its commitment that Malaysia shall remain as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation. DAP’s co-operation with the other three opposition parties was based on the BA common manifesto, “Towards A Just Malaysia” in order to break the BN’s political hegemony and smash the chains of repression fettering the rights and freedom of Malaysians and undermining justice, freedom, democracy and good governance. Once the common objectives of the BA coalition had been tainted by one component party’s insistence that the secular nature of this country should replaced with an Islamic one, it was no longer tenable for DAP to continue in the BA.
Nonetheless, the biggest challenge for Malaysia lies in the future and not in the past – to realize a Malaysian Malaysia where all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, can enjoy justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
In March 2008 general election, a new political scenario emerged in Malaysia with the unprecedented denial of two-thirds parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional and its loss of power in five states – Penang led by a DAP Chief Minister, Perak, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan. This led to the formation of Pakatan Rakyat by the three opposition parties – DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and PAS – which together totalled 82 of the 222 parliamentary seats to usher in a just, united and democratic Malaysia.
DAP shall persevere with its political commitment to bring about a fair, just, democratic and united Malaysia so that the country can rise up to the challenges of the information technology and globalization era and take its rightful place in the international arena.
Join DAP, to make Malaysia a better society for all!