Seeing furious backlash, DAP’s Kit Siang pleads with Malaysians for trust and patience

Justin Ong
Lim has come under fire for backing plans to introduce khat studies among Primary Four students. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — Lim Kit Siang predicted he would lose his Iskandar Puteri seat if he had to defend it today with voters so suspicious of his DAP.

DAP would also lose up to 40 per cent of its votes were a general election to be called now, with Lim blaming this on a “misunderstanding” of his party and the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition.

“We need time for our supporters and the people to realise that the DAP has not betrayed them and that we have not given up on our hopes and objectives of a New Malaysia of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity.

“If the DAP had in fact betrayed the people and the hopes and objective of a New Malaysia of unity, freedom, justice, excellence and integrity, then there is no way that DAP can recover or recapture the support of the voters with the passage of time.”

Recent developments such as the proposed introduction of khat, a form of jawi calligraphy, in primary schools have eroded DAP’s standing with its core supporters among the country’s non-Malays.

Lim came under personal attack after he defended the move and said he was no less Chinese despite learning jawi while he had been detained by the authorities in 1969.

The DAP leader was heckled during an event in his constituency while another party lawmaker’s service centre was pelted with eggs over the issue.

His party has been on the defensive on the matter and has yet to placate supporters who are vehemently opposed to the move.

Accusing unnamed “political conspirators” of creating a siege mentality among the country’s different communities, Lim said their success has resulted in him being viewed as a villain by both the Malay and Chinese.

However, the DAP stalwart expressed his confidence that the new government was still striving for a “New Malaysia” despite the simmering communal tensions in the country.

“But we must come out of our ethnic shells, interact and appreciate the virtues and best values of each other’s ethnicity and not to fall victim to evil conspirators who only want to engender and incite suspicion, distrust, fear and hatred — pitting race against race and religion against religion,” he said.

The Education Ministry’s plan to introduce khat as part of the Bahasa Melayu subject to Primary Four students sparked outrage from mostly minority communities who suspect it may contain covert religious content.

Such fears were exemplified in the United Chinese School Committees Association’s (Dong Zong) demand that the move be reversed for allegedly violating the constitutional right to religious freedom.

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