Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a public rally at Seremban padang on Saturday, 25th Sept. 1971 at 7.30p.m.
DAP to launch nation-wide protest rallies against proposed government abolition of elected Municipal, town and local councils
The government’s move to abolish elected Municipal, town and local councils is the latest in a long series undemocratic Alliances measures to deny the people of Malaysia meaningful democratic rights.
The MCA must bear the greatest responsibility for the government’s decision to abolish elected local government. In fact, the MCA is the real murderer of grass-roots democracy in Malaysia.
After the 1969 general elections, where the MCA candidates were decisively rejected by the electorate, the MCA realized that it has lost out to the Opposition because of its own history of political dishonesty, corruption and immorality.
The MCA leaders realized that if there are Municipal, town and local council elections, the MCA would suffer and even greater defeat than the 1969 general elections.
Thus, though over the press, radio and television, MCA leaders make brave noises about how it has regained public support, in its heart of hearts, it knows that it will never regain public confidence and trust again. This is why it does not want Municipal, town and local council elections for its own political survival’s sake.
The MCA has three reasons why it wants to kill grass-roots democracy as represented by Municipal, town and local council elections:
1. It wants to avoid a even worse defeat in the hands of the electorate than the one it suffered during the 1969 general elections.
2. The MCA realized that if the Opposition, in particular, the DAP, win the majority of the Municipal, town and local councils, they will be power base on which the DAP will build to greater strength and power.
3. The MCA leaders know that if MCA stooges are ever to get appointed onto Municipal, town and local councils, the only way is through the backdoor system of government appointment, and not by elections. Thus in Malacca, Dato Tan Cheng Swee will never dare dream of becoming Malacca Municipal Commissioner if there are Malacca Municipal elections. Dato Tan Cheng Swee is Malacca Municipal Commissioner because he got the post by the backdoor.
It is for this reason that the MCA schemed with the other partners in the ruling Alliance to kill grass-roots democracy, by proposing to abolish elected Municipal, town and local councils.
The abolition of elected local government involves a fundamental issue, which goes to the very roots of democracy. If elected Municipal, town and local councils are abolished, it will be a grave blow to the democratic system in the country, and will lend the way to authoritarian or totalitarian forms of government.
Democracy in Malaysia is a very fragile plant, and if it is to take root, it must be nurtured into a sturdy and viable tree, by encouraging the people to participate fully in the democratic process and inculcating in them the democratic spirit and way of life. This is be achieved by allowing and involving the people in running their own local government trough elected Municipalities and town and local councils.
There is growing evidence that since the announcement by the Minister of Science, Research and Local Government, Dato Ong Kee Hui, in Parliament last July of government intention to abolish elected local government, the Municipal, town and local councils have become more inefficient, incompetent and more callous to the claims of those in hardship or distress.
As this is an important issue, the DAP calls on the government to
i. immediately release the Athi Nahappan Report on Local Government which , it is understood, did not recommend abolition of elected Municipalities and town and local councils;
ii. hold full-scale debates in State Assemblies and Parliament on the issue;
iii. hold television and radio forums on the issue, where leaders of all political parties and prominent public figures can take part;
iv. hold a countrywide referendum on this question which involves the essence of democracy.
The people of Malaysia must pay close attention to this problem, which will involve their daily life. The people of Malaysia must not allow the government to take arbitrary and undemocratic measures which will only benefit the MCA, without showing their protest and opposition.
The DAP will launch a series of nation-wide protest rallies against the proposed abolition of elected Municipal, town and council elections, to heighten the people’s political consciousness.
The protest rallies will be the first of a series of measures which the DAP is planning to highlight the people’s opposition to the killing of grassroots democracy in Malaysia. Let the people show their unity, and pressure the government to change its mind on this crucial matter.
The first DAP protest really will be held in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, Oct. 9.