The Results of the Rembau-Tampin by election: An analysis

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Banda Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking to Malacca State Sub-Committee on Tuesday, 11th July 1972 at 7p.m. at 33A Jalan Munshi Abdullah , Malacca.

The Results of the Rembau-Tampin by election: An analysis

The main objective of the DAP’s participation in the Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election was to begin the long political struggle to win over the Malay rural masses to democratic socialist Malaysian Malaysia.

When we entered the by-election, we knew we were not going to win, considering the nature of the constituency and the breakdown of the electorate, viz: 20,000 Malays, 7,000 Chinese and 2,000 Indians.

Our target was to achieve 3,000 to 4,000 votes. For 15 years, the UMNO and the Alliance had poisoned the minds of the Malay voters by saying that only the UMNO can save them from destruction and elimination.

It will not be possible within two weeks’ campaign to undo all the communal poisoning which the UMNO has been pumping into the minds of Malay peasants. What we wanted to do was to sow the seeds in the mind of the Malay rural voters, for class to transcend race and religion, to convince the Malays in the rural areas that poverty is the basic problem in the country; and that poverty cute across race, religion and language.

This is just like planting a tree. You do not get a full-blown tree within two weeks of your sowing the seed.

Similarly, before the 1969 general elections, we contested a series of by-election up and down the country, and in all these by elections we lost to the Alliance. But when the 1969 general elections came, we made astounding success. It was because the seeds which we have sown in the minds of the people through our by-elections had borne fruit by the time the 1969 general elections were held.

In the same way, the Rembau-Tampin parliamentary-by-election was the first of our many measures to sow the seeds of a democratic socialist, Malaysian Malaysia in the minds of the Malay voters in the rural areas. We do not expect immediate results. In fact, the task to plant the seeds of a democratic socialist Malaysian Malaysia in the rural areas is much more difficult than in the urban areas, and will take greater dedication, conviction, courage and character.

The DAP has started off in the urban areas first, because of limitations of finance, manpower and resources. Within three years, we succeeded in establishing ourselves as the foremost Opposition party in the urban areas. But we are a national political movement, and not just an urban-based political party. Hence the beginning of our second phase of party expansion into the rural areas.

One significant feature of the Rembau-Tampin by-election is the high percentage of votes the DAP received in the urban areas.

The urban votes, predominantly Chinese, were fairly solid behind the DAP. As is usual in all by-elections and general elections, the voting percentage in the rural areas is very high as compared to the voting percentage in the urban areas.

The voting percentage for Rembau-Tampin parliamentary by-election is 72%, but the voting percentage in the urban areas is hardly 60%. Out of the 60% of the urban voters who come out to vote, at least 75% voted for the DAP.

This showed very clear that the DAP has full, solid support in the urban areas. The MCA which claims to be a Chinese party, hardly gets 20 or 25% of the Chinese votes. The same is the case in the Ulu Selangor Parliamentary Election if an analysis is made about the spread of votes in the results.

The Alliance Government should take heed of deep-rooted resentment of Malaysian in the urban areas against the economic, political, social, education and cultural injustices they are suffering under, or during the next general elections, the Alliance will be in for a rude shock.

Although the DAP received only a small percentage of the Malay rural votes, this is the beginning on which we will build upon. We will strengthen the contacts we have made in the Felda schemes, kampongs and estates, and when appropriate, establish branches.

We must all realise that the party’s expansion work into the rural areas is a highly challenging one. We should never allow the difficulty, the set-backs and the reverses to weaken our will and resolve, nor our capacity for judgement.

As the Chinese saying goes, ‘The longest journey starts with a single step’. Thus, in our expansion into the rural areas to win over the Malay rural masses, the longest journey has start with a single step in Rembau-Tampin, which marks our entry into the rural Malaysian politics.