Coalition Politics in Malaysia

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at the 6th Anniversary Dinner of the Seremban DAP Branch in Seremban on Sunday, 16th July 1972 at 9 p.m.

Coalition Politics in Malaysia

Coalition politics is not new in Malaysia. In fact the Alliance party is itself a coalition of three communal political parties, or to be more correct between UMNO on the one hand and the MCA and the MIC on the other.

What is new in post-May 13 1969 politics is the new partners in the coalition. The UMNO has shown that it is not all that wedded to the MCA and MIC, and is prepared to take on new partners as the SUPP in Sarawak, the Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia in Penang and the People’s Progressive Party in Perak.

The basic reason for UMNO’s political polygamy is searching for new coalition partners apart from its traditional ones is because the UMNO is not convinced that the MCA and the MIC have been able to make political recovery and regain popular support.

The MCA, after Tun Ismail’s ‘neither dead nor alive’ warning, has tried many tricks to regain ground, starting with the ill-fated so-called Chinese Unity Movement, the infusion of the so-called new blood, and the endless propaganda about a revived, new, dynamic MCA. However, all this has failed to convince the UMNO that the MCA has truly regained lost political ground.

Good examples are the MCA showing in the recent Ulu Selangor Parliamentary by-election and the Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election. Although in Ulu Selangor by-election, the candidate was from the MCA, Mr. Michael Chen, it was clear from an analysis of the votes that his victory was heavily dependent on the UMNO’s Malay votes. In fact, from the DAP’s reckoning, Mr. Michael Chen did not get more than 30% of the Chinese votes which came out to vote.

In the Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election, the MCA got only 20-25% of the Chinese votes which were cast.

This is why, although the MCA and the Alliance boosted about the great recovery which the MCA has made, the UMNO in its heart of hearts is not convinced. This is why it rode roughshod over MCA protests in both Penang and Perak to embrace new political partners.

There is no more conclusive demonstration of the impotence, ineffectiveness and powerlessness of the MCA in the ruling circles.

The significant feature of the coalition government trend is the need felt by the Alliance government to initiate it.

Basically, it is prompted by the realisation that despite their boasts and propaganda, there has deepening and intensifying discontent among the masses over political, economic, educational, social and cultural issues.

Alliance strategists are working on the mistaken premise that if they absorb an opposition party, they would also be able to secure the political support and following of the opposition party.

What invariably happens in such a case is that the opposition party being absorbed losses all its public support and following, unless the deep-seated economic, political, social and cultural grievances are resolved.

So far three opposition parties have been absorbed by the Alliance, leading to the formation of coalition government in three states. Although these opposition parties still retain their independence, and should they leave the Alliance embrace, would immediately collapse and die.

The ruling party should realise that the mere absorption on suppression of opposition parties will not solve the basic problems in the country, and the establishment of a one-party state with no room for legitimate opposition is the surest way to plunge this country into national perdition.

The DAP calls on the Alliance to recognise the basic problems in the country, which is the resolution of the basic economic, political, social, cultural problems in the country.

The mere formation of coalition governments in Malaysia will not solve Malaysia’s problems, and the DAP will not be a member of any such coalition government.