Basis for opposition co-operation in general elections

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary , Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public rally at Ayer Puteh Road, Reservoir Gardens, Ayer Itam, Penang, on Saturday, January 18, 1969 at 8p.m.

Two weeks ago, the DAP proposed that the DAP, the PPP and the Gerakan should get together to arrive at an electoral understanding to prevent electoral conflicts in the same State and Parliamentary constituency in the general elections.

Such an electoral understanding will prevent the split of opposition votes which can only benefit the Alliance. This was what happened in the recent Serdang by-election in Selangor, where the DAP was narrowly defeated by the Alliance.

If the Serdang State by-election had been a straight fight between the DAP and the Alliance, there is no doubt that the DAP would have won. However, the Gerakan, although it knew it did not have a ghost of chance of winning, for reasons best known to its own leaders, fielded a candidate. In the event, it lost its deposit and helped the Alliance to win the seat on a minority vote.

The DAP does not want the mistake of Serdang to be repeated in other constituencies in the general elections. This was the reason why the DAP proposed to the Gerakan two weeks ago that there should be talks for an electoral pact.

The Gerakan has shown little interest in the proposed three-party electoral pact discussions. Instead of responding to our proposal it called for a grand meeting of all opposition parties to form a united opposition front.

It is impossible for the opposition parties in Malaysia to form a united front or agree on a common election programme, because they have different and even opposing policies and programmes.

The PMIP for instance, stand for a Malay Government, intolerant of other races and religions. The DAP, on the other hand, stands for a Malaysian Malaysia, where there is cultural and socialist democracy, multi-lingualism, a multi-cultural society, and an integrated education system which permits such institutions like the Merdeka University. Then there is the Gerakan, which opposes and rejects a Malaysian Malaysia, multi-lingualism, a multi-cultural society, and condemns the Merdeka University project as ‘communal’.

The PMIP will never agree to the DAP’s Malaysian Malaysia platform, nor will the DAP every agree to the PMIP’s fanatical communal policy.

To expect the PMIP and the DAP therefore to have a united front of have a common election programme is a nonsensical dream.

The most realistic basis for opposition co-operation in the general elections is through and electoral pact between the DAP, the PPP and the Gerakan, to prevent three-cornered fights.

For such an electoral pact to succeed, however, there must be sincerity and honesty of purpose on all sides, and no one must lay down impossible conditions.

For instance, it is unacceptable for any other party to lay claim, as a pre-condition for talks, to the Gerakan Parliamentary seats of Tanjong and Batu, or to the PPP’s Parliamentary seats of Ipoh and Menglembu. Similarly, any precondition for talks on the part of the Gerakan that it should have the DAP Parliamentary seat of Bungsar must be considered as an impossible condition calculated to prevent the start of electoral talks. It is working towards a united Malaysian nation. If not Malaysia must disintegrate unless Alliance policies can be reversed in time by the people.

Every Party keeps the State and Parliamentary seats it is currently holding, for these seats much be treated as absolutely non-negotiable. It is only on this basis that there can be fruitful electoral pact discussions.

If the Gerakan continues to ignore our proposal for electoral pact discussions, then the public must conclude that it is not interested in such a pact.

This will be a pity, because it means that there will be three- cornered fights not only in Bungsar, but in Batu and Tanjong as well.

We hope such a situation will not develop, because we in DAP want to concentrate all our resources and energy on exposing the racialism, corruption, decadence, inefficiency and feudalism of the Alliance, so that the winds of change and a Malaysian Malaysia blow through the entire land of Malaysia.

But whatever happens, the young Malaysian men and women who organise, run and lead the DAP are prepared to face whatever obstacles, overcome whatever difficulties, and to continue a long-term political struggle, whether five, then, fifteen years, until the Malaysian Malaysia ideal, where there is no discrimination and exploitation of man by man, class by class, race by race or language by language, becomes a reality.