belongs to the original band of standard-bearers for the cause of a
Malaysian Malaysia who have made a vital contribution to uphold the Merdeka
social contract that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the
official religion but not an Islamic State
- when paying last respects to former DAP stalwart, Peter Paul Dason, three-term MP and two-term Penang State Assemblyman at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Friday): Penang and Malaysia have lost a great son – Peter Paul Dason, 70, three-term Member of Parliament and two-term Penang State Assemblyman. I have lost a close comrade-at-arms, great friend and confidante.
If Peter is a fortune-seeker instead of a devotee to justice, freedom and good governance, he would today be a “Tan Sri” and a man of great wealth. He had however chosen a different life-path based on his convictions and principles.
Peter Dason belongs to the original band of standard-bearers for the cause of a Malaysian Malaysia who have made a vital contribution to uphold the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
Peter was not an easy person to get along with. It must be the unanimous opinion of those who met him for the first time that he was an insufferable character, arrogant and distant. It was only those who had the opportunity and patience to get to know him who found that he was actually a very humble and human person with a heart of gold, whose every waking moment and thought was dedicated to the betterment of the Malaysian nation where all Malaysians, regardless of race, can find an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
Peter’s demise is a great loss to the DAP, Malaysian politics and nation-building. Peter was one of the founding members of DAP, when it was registered on March 18, 1966 – as well as the founding Penang DAP Secretary.
He was in the first batch of 13 DAP Members of Parliament elected in the first general election contested by the DAP in 1969, representing Penang Utara. In his first election outing, he won with a 7,551-vote majority, garnering 20,930 votes against 13,379 by his MCA opponent.
The Third Parliament elected in May 1969 was suspended for 20 months after the proclamation of emergency and establishment of a National Operations Council following the May 13 riots, and Parliament was only reconvened in February 1971 on the condition that it must approve amendments to the Constitution to entrench the banning of four sensitive issues from public and parliamentary with the criminal sanctions of imprisonment and disqualification of elected MPs or Parliament would be adjourned with MPs packed home.
I had just come out from a 17-month detention under the Internal Security Act, and it was during my fourth month in detention in the Muar detention centre that I was informed that I had been elected as DAP Secretary-General.
I remember that before the meeting of the suspended Parliament in February 1971, at the first pre-council meeting of DAP MPs, I told DAP MPs that they must be prepared to go into Parliament to speak their minds and take a principled stand by voting against the undemocratic constitutional amendments, and to come out of the Parliament House to go straight into the Police “black marias” – as such was the tense situation at the time with all the threats of dire consequences by various quarters if Parliament failed to pass the constitutional amendments.
Peter did not flinch in supporting such a firm stand, and he has continued to be a pillar of strength in the 38-year “long march” of the DAP for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians.
Peter will be sorely missed particularly at this stage when the country is faced with the second great nation-building test, to preserve and uphold the Merdeka “social contract”, the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and 1970 Rukunegara that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
The parliamentary reply given by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to the UMNO MP for Kemamam, Ahmad Shabery Cheek reiterating that Malaysia is an Islamic State should be clear to all that a lot of work has to be done in order to restore, preserve and uphold the Merdeka social contract that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
I believe nothing will better honour Peter’s memory than for Malaysians to hold high his spirit of justice and rededicate themselves to achieve one of his deepest aspirations – a Malaysian Malaysia founded on a secular democracy and justice for all.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman