DAP condemns Alliance government move to amend Constitution to freeze by-elections

The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr.Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement (4.1.69):

The DAP condemns the Alliance government for its move to amend the Constitution at the next sitting of Parliament, beginning next week, to freeze by-elections until the general elections. Only an undemocratic and irresponsible government will contemplate such a move.

The reasons that have been given by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak in justification for freezing by elections are flimsy, frivolous and do not bear examination.

Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Abdul Razak said by elections “cost money”, “will in convenience the public” and “embarrass the government.” And that as general elections would be held later this year, it is not necessary to hold by election.

The excuse about money is most ridiculous. Every by election costs money. The general elections cost even more money.

If the Alliance is allowed to set the precedent to tinker with the Constitution and freeze by-elections, in five or ten years’ time, when the Alliance faces the possibility of losing federal power, it will argue that general elections coasts even more money and amend the Constitution to freeze general elections.

A by election, which costs only a few thousand dollars, is a legitimate, lawful and necessary expenditure if we cherish democracy and abhor totalitarianism. Yet the alliance government would not spend these few thousand dollars to nurture the fragile plant of Malaysian democracy while on the other hand, it freely squanders away millions of dollars a year on useless, un-productive, ‘white elephant’ projects and for Alliance leaders to go on overseas pleasure trips.

No democrat will ever advance or support the argument that by-elections, under any circumstances, will ‘inconvenience the public.’ Only feudalists will do this.

This is because by-elections are part of the long term process to involve the citizens and educate them in the meaning and workings of democracy.

Although the Labour Party staggered their mass resignations, there is no need to have staggered by elections, because the by-elections for the five State and one Parliament seats in Selangor and Penang could be held simultaneously. The Alliance government argument that staggering of mass resignations causes inconvenience again does not bear examination.

The motive for the suspension of by-election is that the Alliance government is afraid of being ‘embarrassed’ by defeats, particularly in Salak in Selangor, and the Penang seats, at the hands of the Democratic Action Party.

The Alliance is also worried that the by-elections will provide the DAP with fresh opportunities to carry the message for Malaysian Malaysia, for socialist and cultural democracy, not only the voters of the five constituencies affected, but throughout the country. This is because by-elections highlight and focus the issues before the country to the people at large.

For its own party interests, the Alliance is tampering with the constitution to freeze by-elections. Democracy, and the Malaysian interest, demand that the by-elections should be held as stipulated by the Constitution – within sixty days of their vacancy.

It has become the Alliance practices to tamper with the Constitution at will for its own party gain. The people have lost count of the number of times the Constitution has been tampered in this manner. The Constitution is ceasing to be a meaningful document to protect the fundamental rights of Malaysian citizens.

It is astonishing that there are opposition parties which support the Alliance tampering of the constitution, which involves a fundamental constitutional and democratic principle. If this goes unchallenged, it will lay the basis for the suspension of democracy altogether in coming years.

The DAP is unequivocally opposed to this Alliance move, and has instructed its Member of Parliament for Bungsar, Mr.C.V. Devan Nair, to oppose any Alliance measure in Parliament to amend the constitution to suspend by-elections.

The DAP calls on all Opposition parties and Opposition Members of Parliament to units against this latest Alliance measure to slowly strangle democracy.

The DAP will organise protest meetings and rallies throughout the country to expose the true Alliance intentions in this move.

I hope the Alliance will seriously reconsider and rescind its decision to freeze by-elections, if it is capable of putting national interest above party interest.