Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Malacca State DAP State Sub-Committee meeting at Malacca DAP Headquarters, 33A Jalan Munshi Abdullah, Malacca on Friday, 25th February 1972 at 5 p.m.
Call to DAP branches and members to prepare for early general elections
DAP branches and members should begin making preparations for the next general elections, which may be held as early as the latter part of next year.
Although the last general elections was held in May 1969, the Alliance Government need not call for fresh general elections until February 1976. This is because the five-year term of a Parliament is not computed from the date of last general elections, but from the convening of the new Parliament. In this case, the new Parliament was not convened until February 1971, a delay of nearly 22 months.
There are many reasons, however, why the Alliance will be tempted to hold early general elections, although it could constitutionally govern up to February 1976.
I will give four reasons:
One: The holding of general elections in late 1973 or early 1974 will give the Alliance an opportunity to boast inside and outside the country as to how democratic, fair and reasonable it is: that although it could govern for seven years, it would not do so and would allow the people to pass judgment within five years of the last general elections in May 1969.
Two: The Second Malaysia Plan ends in 1975. The Government has made great promises and raised high hopes about how the Second Malaysia Plan will drastically improve the livelihood of the poor peasants and workers. If the general elections is held in 1975 or 1976, then the government will be held to account for its broken promises and dashed hopes of the people if the Second Malaysia Plan fails to live up to its boasts and promises. And it is difficult to see how the Second Malaysia Plan can materially change and improve the lot of the poor. There is thus a compelling reason to hold the general elections at the end of 1973 or early 1974, when the Government could still campaign on the promises of the Second Malaysia Plan.
Three: The new MCA also wants early general elections, when it is not yet tested and found wanting. Thus, the newly-appointed Minister of Special Functions charged with New Villages had so far spent his two months traveling the country, saying endless things without showing a single achievement. It may be possible to keep up these empty appearances for six months or even one year, but not for very mush longer. There will be thus a pressure for early general elections, before their true colours are revealed.
Four: The Alliance-Gerakan coalition government wants to have some time to make great promises to the people of Penang as to how it could turn Penang into a state of plenty and affluence – but not too much time for their promises to be broken. Thus one to one-and-a-half years to build up a publicity campaign to raise the hopes of the people of Penang will be just about right, to be followed by general elections.
It is in anticipation of an early general elections that the DAP CEC has created the post of Secretary for Publicity and Propaganda, and reshuffled some top party posts. This is to get the party in readiness for any surprise early general elections.