Election Pledges in Penang

Opening Statement at a press conference by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at Penang on Tuesday, 24th Nov. 1970 at 12p.m.

Advise to Dr. Lim Chong Eu to make a clean break from his Alliance past and to fulfil his election pledges to Penang

During my present visit, I am surprised to find the growing chorus and rising crescendo of disillusionment and disenchantment with the Gerakan State Government of Penang fold by the ordinary people in this State.

Many people feel that after toppling the 12-year-old Alliance misrule, they have voted into office an opposition government which do not differ very much from the precious regime.

The DAP is seriously concerned by this widespread popular disenchantment with the Gerakan State Government, for after all, the DAP was partly responsible for putting the Gerakan into state power by reaching an electoral pact whereby the Gerakan is given the opportunity to form the Penang State Government.

What surprises me is that within the short space of 21 months, Dr. Lim seems to have forgotten many of his election promises. Many of his actions and measures have increased the hardships and difficulties of the ordinary people in Penang, e.g. quit rent, his failure to solve the state’s unemployment problem or even to make a start towards solving it, the hardships imposed on hawkers because of the government’s indifferent callous attitude to the livelihood of the ordinary men in the street, etc.

During the 1969 general elections, Dr. Lim promised that he would restore City Council elections. Dr. Lim should know better that it is not within his power as a Chief Minister to hold City Council elections because of the law passed in Parliament suspending all local council elections. It is, however, within his power to return the City Council, which is at present, in the control of the State Government to the control of the people. Why isn’t Dr. Lim doing this?

In any event, we invite Dr. Lim Chong Eu to join the Penang DAP to make a joint representation to the Central Government to hold immediate City Council elections, so that the people of Penang can directly run and manage the affairs of the City Council through their elected representatives.

The DAP Penang will contact all political parties in Penang to make an anti-party representation, and I trust Dr. Lim Chong Eu will abide, if not by the letter at least by the spirit, of his election pledge.

I am pained to learn that Dr. Lim has adopted the attitude and behavior of Alliance governments and politicians.

For instance, Dr. Lim refused to nominate a DAP member to the State Goodwill Council although the DAP has three State Assemblymen and one Member of Parliament in Penang, and helped the Gerakan to gain power through our electoral pact.

When asked why he did not nominate a DAP member to sit on the State Goodwill Council, Dr. Lim said the DAP must prove itself.

I would expect such arrogance and haughtiness from the Alliance government and regime. I did not know that this is also the characteristic of the Gerakan.

It is only very much later that Dr. Lim condescended to appoint a DAP Penang leader to the sit on the State Goodwill Committee, namely the DAP State Assemblyman for Kelawei, Sdr. Yap Ghim Guan.

The DAP Penang has often times pointed out the shortcomings and faults of the Gerakan State Government in the hope that the Gerakan State Government would remedy them in the interests of Penang.

But the characteristic attitude of the Gerakan State Government is to ignore them. Again, this had been the classic response of the Alliance government for the last 13 years to all opposition criticisms, because they have no case to answer Opposition charges. The Gerakan seem to have inherited this Alliance trait too.

I hope Dr. Lim Chong Eu and the Gerakan State Government will in future pay more attention to the grievances of the people and the complaints of the Opposition, for democracy means that the government must be answerable to the governed, and cannot disregard the views and wishes of the governed, whether expressed by the people directly, or through political parties who represent parts of the people.

In Selangor, the State Alliance had the audacity to appoint a Speaker for the State Assembly even before the meeting of the State Assembly. Dr. Lim in Penang has again followed the footsteps of the Alliance in doing the same in Penang.

But Dr. Lim seems to have gone even further than the various Alliance state governments. Dr. Lim has appointed a Deputy Chief Minister without the approval of the Penang State Assembly, when other states like in Perak, Selangor and Johore and others, the Alliance State Governments have even dared not so blatantly flout the democratic principle that all such substantive appointments must be made by the State Assembly itself.

I urge Dr. Lim Chong Eu to pause and reflect, review and reassess his attitudes, actions and policies as Chief Minister of Penang for the last 21 months. With the help of the DAP, the people of Penang have given power to the Gerakan, and my colleagues in the DAP and I would like to see that the hopes of the people of Penang have not been misplaced.

I urge Dr. Lim Chong Eu to make a clean break with his Alliance past, and to run the State Government of Penang in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people, to make Penang a state where there is opportunity for a decent life for all, regardless of his income, class or race.

The people of Penang rejected the Alliance last year, because they do not want an Alliance type of government, least of all a Gerakan Alliance type of government.

One thing Dr. Lim can do to begin making a clean break from his Alliance past is to announce that the Gerakan State Government will present the 1971 Budget to the State Assembly, and not follow the footsteps of Tun Tan Siew Sin and other Alliance State Governments, who want to deprive the elected representatives of the people the basic rights to debate and approve the 1971 Budget.

I am confident the people of Penang look forward to Dr. Lim’s stand on the 1971 Penang State Budget.

I also urge Dr. Lim to immediately declare May Day a public holiday in the State of Penang, which is a Gerakan election pledge.

It is no use announcing that the Penang State Government intends to make May Day a public holiday, for the intention can last five or ten years without any step to make it so.

I cannot understand why May Day 1970 was not a public holiday in Penang State.

As I said in Ipoh on Nov. 19, every DAP Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman shall be guided in every action of theirs by the four primary principles of:

1. To build a united and genuine multi-racial Malaysian nation;
2. To abolish the economic imbalance between the haves and the have-nots and between the urban and rural areas by democratic socialist methods to ensure that social and economic justice is not a dream but a reality in Malaysia;
3. To uphold the cause of democracy in Malaysia, and so fight all forms of anti-democratic expressions, practices and actions;
4. To uphold the democratic principle that the purpose of government, whether at the national or state level, is to serve the maximum good of the greatest number, and to give every Malaysian, regardless of race, the opportunity to develop his potential to the fullest.

The DAP shall support the Gerakan State Government of Penang in any of its measure, policy or action which furthers any one of the basic principles above.

Our opposition or support to a particular measure will depend on the issue and principle involved in each case, and never based on considerations of parties or personalities.

Our paramount guiding star hall be what is to the best interest of the people of Penang and Malaysia.

In conclusion, I sincerely urge Dr. Lim to make a clean break from his Alliance past, drop all Alliance attitudes, characteristics and traits, and prove to the people of Penang that the Gerakan government is not a copy of the Alliance regime, but a completely different model altogether which has the interest of the people as the primary guide.