Keng Yaik should make clear in the Cabinet that Dong Jiao Zong’s “Usaha Memelihara Akar Pokok” campaign is not communal or chauvinistic, but fully in keeping with Malaysia’s plural character

Media Conference Statement (2)
at Chai Leng Park  market, Penang on the  DAP’s Love Malaysia/Defend Secular Malaysia campaign
by Lim Kit Siang

(PenangSunday): Two weeks ago, I had called on the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leadership to apologise for the Gerakan think-tank’s attacks on Chinese mother-tongue education as the source of social ills like high school dropout rate,  prostitution and criminal activities.

The Gerakan think-tank, Socio-Economic Development and  Research (SEDAR)  had  made the serious  allegations against Chinese mother-tongue education in general and Chinese primary schools in particular in a letter to Malaysiakini  published on 4th September 2003 under the tendentious heading “DAP keen on exploiting race-based issues”:

Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leadership had kept their silence.

Early this week, I had called on the Gerakan leadership to dissociate itself from the warning given by UMNO Youth leader Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein that Barisan Nasional Youth would take action against Dong Jiao Zong for its “Usaha Memelihari Akar Pokok” campaign to uphold the fundamental human right of mother-tongue education in plural Malaysia, for trying  “to stir communal issues or trample on  communal sensitivities” with the approach of the next general election. 

This follows the Mingguan Malaysian column “Bisik-Bisik Mingguan” last Sunday warning Dong Jiao Zong for “playing with fire” in its “Usaha Memelihara Akar Pokok”  pamphlet, in  inflaming the  fires  of communalism in alleging that the use of English to teach Mathematics and Science is  a threat to Chinese mother-tongue education which represents the roots of any race. 

Again the Gerakan leadership has kept its silence.

The Gerakan leadership seems to have decided on a  policy of silence when confronted with embarrassing situations where it could not publicly justify its stand, whether on its support for the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, its attack on Chinese mother-tongue education as a cause of social ills like high school dropout rate, prostitution and criminal activities; and the chauvinistic and irresponsible positions of  UMNO Youth and Mingguan Malaysia on Dong Jiao Zong’s opposition to the 2-4-3 formula on the use of English to teach maths and science in Chinese primary schools Std. One. 

Universiti Teknology MARA (UiTM) Vice Chancellor Prof Datuk Seri Dr. Ibrahim Abu Shah announced last Tuesday that  “The Thoughts of Mahathir” will become  a compulsory subject for all its students and lecturers, a move which is likely to be followed by other public universities. 

However, the first persons who should be required to attend a compulsory course on the “Mahathir’s Thoughts”  are Cabinet Ministers and Barisan Nasional leaders, who  have not followed the latest developments in Mahathir’s thinking and ideas.

An example is the changed thinking of Mahathir on assimilation and integration for plural Malaysia.  In 1994, Mahathir publicly admitted that he has embraced integration as the basis for nation-building for plural Malaysia in place of his earlier advocacy of assimilation.

Mahathir would now appreciate the significance of searching for and protecting one’s  roots, symbolizing a person’s  pride  in  his ethnic, cultural and  linguistic past – which is exactly what Dong Jiao Zong is doing, and cannot under any circumstances be equated with communalism or chauvinism.   A country  which accepts integration as the basis of nation-building with a rich diversity of races, languages, cultures and religions, will support the searching and protecting one’s roots  as a legitimate expression of the plural characteristics of our society – and not condemn or reject it  as communalism or cultural chauvinism.

Keng Yaik  should end  the Gerakan’s  new policy of silence and  speak up in Cabinet to ensure that all Ministers, regardless of race, religion or political party, understand the relevance and importance of every community protecting its  roots, without in any manner jeopardizing the overarching  Malaysian nation-building effort and that Dong Jiao Zong’s “Usaha Memelihara Akar Pokok” campaign is neither communal nor chauvinistic, but fully in keeping with Malaysia’s plural characteristics and identity.

DAP will launch a nation-wide campaign to give full support to the Dong Jiao Zong “Usaha Memelihara Akar Pokok” campaign – to educate both leaders and the citizenry that searching for and protecting one’s roots is a legitimate and integral expression of one’s love for Malaysia with all its ethnic, linguistic, cultural and linguistic diversity, and no one becomes any  less Malaysian for protecting one’s roots.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman