Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Students' Newspaper. Vol. 32, No. 23. September 24, 1969
[Letter to Salient regarding Malaysia from M. Lim]
David Shand's article in Salient 22 on Malaysia must be commended for its highly perceptive content. He has understood us in many ways.
There is one slight technical error in describing Lee Kuan Yeu's party as the People's Progressive Party (PPP). Actually, its the Peoples' Action Party (PAP). The DAP was originally PAP. viz., when Singapore was in Malaysia. But after eviction, it had to change its name owing to legal technicalities.
New Zealanders were quite right in believing that Malaysia was a democracy before the present development. We were a democracy in many senses of the world. Shand's main argument was that (1) there was gerrymandering, (2) there were special privileges for the Malays, (3) the Internal Security Act gives initially absolute power to the government.
Gerrymandering is not uncommon even in the U.S. though not so in New Zealand. The special privileges were supposed to creat a more democratic society and it was agreed that in due course these privileges would go. When there are elements in a society which try to undermine the very basis of that society by soliciting (often successfully) loyally to Mao and "great" China and even preparing for armed revolt, can one help but to contain them?
This is not to say that there is an absence of a "competitive struggle for the peoples' vote". The last election clearly showed a return of a considerable number of opposition leaders.
I for one, would not like to harbour the grim view that "there does not seem to be any middle way for Malaysia". Granted that the degree of polarisation of the races are at the moment acute, still I would like to think that under a "wise" and "benevolent" government a process of integration (not assimilation) would be possible.
The irony of the situation is that we were so close to a workable democracy and yet we lost it through our intolerance (perhaps?)