Johore Politics

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr Lim Kit Siang, when he officially opened the Chamek DAP Branch in Johor on 27th August 1971 at 4pm

The official opening of the Chamek DAP Branch marks the first fruit of the DAP’s campaign in the Bekok by-election in May this year.

Although we lost the by-election, we have succeeded in establishing nuclei of dedicated supporters and members of the Party in the constituency, which will be further evidenced in the next few days when the Cha’ah DAP Branch and the Niyor DAP Branch will be officially opened.

It is not an easy matter to build up a branch. It is even more difficult to maintain it. They call for a high quality of dedication, sacrifice, public spiritedness and commitment to the cause for a democratic socialist Malaysia from our members, cadres and officials.

I want therefore to commend the Chamek DAP Branch officials and members for the fine start they have made in establishing the DAP base. With the drive, determination and dedication they have shown, I have no doubt that Chamek DAP Branch will grow to be a dynamic branch.

The MCA is crowing about its victory in Bekok. In fact, the MCA Secretary-General in his report to the recent MCA General Assembly, devoted more space to the Bekok by-election than to the disastrous MCA defeats in the 1969 general elections. This is the conduct of a drowning man grasping at a straw.

I am not over-perturbed by the results of the Bekok by-election. The DAP defeat is only a small set back. In Malaysia, the democratic system is framed in such a way that by-elections give a built-in advantage to ruling parties as compared to general elections.

Thus, before the 1969 General Elections, the DAP contested in four by-elections, and in all of them, we lost. Form these by-elections, one would have thought that a DAP’s chances in the 1969 General Elections are so slim that it would be a miracle even to win one seat But the results of the 1969 general elections prove otherwise. In fact, in the Serdang by-election, we lost by 607 votes, but six month later, in the General Elections, we won by ,3,14 votes.

By-elections are favourable to the ruling party and more unfavourable to the Opposition because it permits the ruling party to concentrate their resources of material and money in one area, and their campaign of buying votes and intimidating voters will therefore be more effective than if diffused throughout the country as during the general elections.

Another factor is that in by-elections, the percentage of voters coming out to vote is always lower than during general election. And a lower percentage is unfavourable to the Opposition.

We notices, during the Bekok by-election and even during the 1969 General Election, that the overwhelming majority of the youths are on our side, because we dare to speak out against all forms injustice and inequality.

Unfortunately, a large percentage of them are not registered voters. We must get these unregistered voters to register, so that in the next elections, they are entitled to cast their votes and exercise their fundamental right as a citizen in helping to determine the destiny of this country.

The annual registration of voters exercise had been suspended for two years, and will resume this year. All our branches throughout the country must launch a campaign to get all Malaysia citizens above 21 years old to register as voters.

One of things which the youths of Malaysia abhor is political dishonesty. This is highlighted in the recent MCA attempt to revive itself through the so-called Chinese unity Movement.

When the Chinese Unity Movement was launched, the sponsors claimed that it was non-partisan, above party and has absolutely nothing to do with MCA.

But the public knows from the start that the objective of the Chinese Unity Movement in the eyes of the real sponsors is none other than to revive the moribund MCA.

Now, at last, none other than the MCA President, Tun Tan Siew Sin has publicly admitted this in his presidential speech to the recent MCA General Assembly. This is what Tun Tan had said:

“When I addressed a Chinese Unity rally in Penang last April, I made I clear that Chinese unity can only be expressed through a political party, and it must be clear to those who think at all that the natural vehicle for the expression of such unity must be the MCA.”

We also read in the press of a new MCA, especially with 20,000 people joining as members of the MCA in the last few months.

This reminds m of the MCA membership recruitment campaign launched at the end of 1968 just before the general elections. In the 3 ½ months from Sept. 2 to Dec. 16, 1968, the MCA enrolled 52,146 new members. As the MCA Youth Leader, Mr. Lee San Choon, then proudly and rightly pointed out, the MCA’s new members in the drive alone exceeded the total Opposition membership.

But this did not save the MCA from the disastrous defeats in the general elections a few months later!

We in the DAP do not go in for tens or hundreds of thousands of members. We are not interested in quantity. The first importance to us is quality. We want members who are ideologically committed, and who are prepared to make sacrifices to achieve a more just and equal Malaysian society.

With a small but well-knit membership, I am sure we can forge ahead in our political struggle, and achieve more gains and victories.