Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, 5 Feb 2022

Kit Siang’s gaffe about Malaysia becoming “the Venezuela of Asean” reveals more about the DAP’s hollow commitment to “democratic socialism” than anything else. He made this unfortunate comparison in a recent attempt at another “Save Malaysia” ploy.

In the 2018 general election, the so-called “Save Malaysia” campaign to only expel Najib but maintain rule of the same racist and exploitative dominant party was nothing short of pure opportunism. Reforms that do not target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in fast motion by Mahathir in the early Eighties are not serious reforms.

Democratic socialists should focus on serious reforms and not opportunistic bids for power. Kit Siang’s unfortunate comparison with Venezuela merely shows that all these years he has not really reflected on DAP’s supposed commitment to “democratic socialism” in the ‘Tanjung Declaration’ that was launched by his party in 1991:

“With the increasing spread of unfettered capitalism through privatisation, there is no doubt that democratic socialism will become more and more relevant as the solution to the plight of oppressed peoples throughout the world.”

And yet, Lim talks about Venezuela as if it is another banana republic without recognising that it has been the victim of US imperialism which in turn is a terrible insult to socialists across the world, and that includes China that Lim seems to have respect for.

China and Cuba have continued to voice support for Maduro and have accused the US of interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs amid the ongoing turmoil. I would remind Lim that the Tanjung Declaration also “…opposes imperialism, racism and Zionism and actively promotes peace and justice in international relations.”

Washington has been meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs since the 19th century and it continues to do so to this very day with the spectre of yet another U.S.-backed coup, or even direct American military intervention. During most of the 20th century, U.S. interference in Venezuela appeared to be mostly about oil, but that wasn’t always the case in earlier times.

Far from being a banana republic, Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution engaged in far reaching economic and social reforms that dramatically reduced poverty while raising literacy levels, health care and living conditions for millions of Venezuelans, all of which attracted worldwide acclaim. The reforms included nationalizing key components of the nation’s economy as part of an agenda of socialist uplift, making Chavez a hero to millions of people and the enemy of Venezuela’s oligarchs and the US.

After the 2018 general election in Malaysia, a spokesman for the US International Republican Institute, an organisation heavily linked to senior Republican figures as well as former top US intelligence officers, boasted that it has been working with Pakatan Harapan through the US National Endowment for Democracy since 2002. It further boasted that this partnership with Pakatan Harapan has benefited the US in terms of its current rivalry with China when, as the US had wanted, the Pakatan government cancelled the China-backed ECRL. This Youtube video is still viewable today. Up until today, I have yet to see any response by Kit Siang or any of the Pakatan leaders to this shocking expose.

These are questions that Lim should be asking and what happened to our state-owned enterprises that Malaysia’s so-called “saviour” and “game changer” Mahathir privatised after Pakatan Harapan came into power in 2018?

US presidents from Bush and Obama to the present one continues to demonise the Venezuela president as well as Xi Jinping as “authoritarians”. The United States has almost always opposed any government or movement that seeks to freely choose its own political and economic path if it diverges from the neo-liberal capitalist order backed by Washington and Wall Street. The Maduro regime is far from perfect but for Lim to speak about Venezuela in the same defamatory way the West treats her is so un-socialist and un-fraternal if the DAP still claims adherence to the socialist ideal. Could China lift 850 million out of poverty if she was capitalist?

Lim further claims that “with economic reforms in the past 40 years, some 850 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty” without mentioning that this feat has been achieved since their socialist revolution in 1949. After the establishment of the PRC in 1949 gigantic steps forward for the Chinese people were taken. Modern industrialisation began. The greatest improvement in the conditions of the largest number of people in human history, in a similar time frame, was achieved – as measured in increased life expectancy, education, health etc.

China’s gigantic achievement was only possible through its socialist revolution and anti-imperialist struggle and a development strategy totally directed towards the improvement of the lives of China’s people.

Sure, it made mistakes during the “Great Leap Forward “as well as the Cultural Revolution as they have acknowledged. Yes, China under Deng adopted capitalist production relations to adjust its economic policies. Nevertheless, to judge the ideological attributes of China, you need to understand the operation of democratic socialism as practiced by the CPC and an effective government serving the people by strictly controlling the commanding heights related to national security, the economy, including food, medical, telecommunications, infrastructure, and energy. The commodity economy is only a way to liberate and develop productivity.

The democratic socialism practiced in China is composed of professional bureaucrats, experienced managers, engineers, and scientists. The billionaires in China are now learning that in a socialist society, they do not allow unfettered competition without restrictions. The bourgeoisie are not running the Chinese politburo like the bourgeoisie are running the US Congress and Wall Street.

Has there ever been a country that is fully committed to capitalism in the history of humankind that has succeeded in lifting 850 million people out of poverty? On the contrary, we can see the opposite trend in the US and other die-hard capitalist countries.

Kit Siang would be sadly mistaken if he wants Malaysians to follow the neo-liberal capitalist road that Mahathir is noted for especially in Penang. In his advancing age, he would do well to seriously ponder the DAP’s commitment to democratic socialism in dialogue with other young leaders and let them have a go on the political merry-go-round. This would be a more worthwhile effort and important legacy for him to leave the party.