P. Patto was born in Bagan Serai on the 19th of December 1946. Today marks what would have been his 74th birthday.
Even though we may have lost him in 1995, his spirit continues to motivate us to continuously fight for the rights of all Malaysians.
P. Patto joined DAP in 1971 as a result of being deeply concerned with the authoritarian BN regime and the loss of democracy in Malaysia.
In 1973, he quit his post as a teacher and became the political secretary to Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in 1973.
Patto contested against MIC leader Dato Seri S.Samy Vellu in the Parliamentary constituency of Sungai Siput in 1974 where he lost by a mere 644 votes. Samy was shaken by the bold and great fight P. Patto gave. But he was no match to the massive government machinery, money and media which was backing the Barisan National and its candidate.
In 1987, P. Patto was part of the 119 detainees that had been wrongfully and unjustly imprisoned under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in the major crackdown against critical voices against the oppressive and regressive policies of the then BN government.
We must never forget the sacrifices he had made during his short time on earth being a tireless fighter, including his own health and precious time that was taken away as a husband and father.
In his pursuit of justice, he took care to acquire skills in languages including Tamil, English, Bahasa Malaysia and some words and phrases in Cantonese, in oratory and in analysis.
He soon became a powerful orator, debater with strong analytical skills that his comrades and even his opponents equally respected.
In fact, Patto’s strong insight on many issues in Malaysia’s political arena are deeply relevant today. Here’s an excerpt of his press statement made in 1985 which eerily mirrors our current political climate.
“Betrayals by elected representatives who cross the floor when the carrot is held before their eyes cannot be condoned in any parliamentary system which adhered to the principles of parliamentary democracy. The choice by the electorates in any election or by-election must be held in high esteem and not treated as a licence to trade one’s position as a Member of Parliament or State Assemblyman for personal gains and glorifications.“ – P. Patto, 1985.
The late P. Patto will always be a man who had inspired many to join the political movement of this country.
“I had the privilege of meeting him for the first time when I was reading law in London in 1980. That meeting actually provoked my inner conscience of responsibility to the people of my motherland Malaysia. He was simple straightforward yet very articulate on issues. I eventually joined the DAP,” recalls his DAP colleague M Kula Segaran.
If there is one word which could sum up the life of P. Patto it must be the word ‘ JUSTICE’.
Let us never forget the work of those who came before us, in this case P.Patto who by all accounts was a relentless, tenacious and courageous fighter of justice for the poor, the downtrodden, the overworked and underpaid workers, of all races and classes.
This article was inspired by M. Kula Segaran’s speech given on the 10th Anniversary of P.Patto’s untimely passing.