Coalition politics in Malaysia

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Penang DAP State Sub-Committee at DAP State premises at Green Hall, Penang on Sunday 6th August 1972 at 8 p.m.

Coalition politics in Malaysia

Coalition government at the State level seems to be growing with the possible formation of a coalition government between PAS and the Alliance in Kelantan and at the Federal levels.

Coalition politics is not new in Malaysia. The Alliance Government is itself a coalition government, being a coalition of UMNO with the MCA and MIC.

What is new is the UMNO looking for new partners to enter into a coalition government, for everybody knows that the ruling party is UMNO and not the MCA or MIC which are merely window-dressings.

The recent coalition government trend in West Malaysia is interesting for two reasons:

1. The coalition the UMNO has formed with the Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia in Penang and with the PPP in Perak proves that the UMNO has no confidence in the ability of the MCA to win back Chinese mass support.

Despite the MCA’s big propaganda campaign to delude the people that the MCA has regained all its lots ground, despite the ill-fated attempt of the MCA to make use of the Chinese Unity Movement for its political ends, and despite all their boast about new blood, new leadership and new style, the UMNO knows better than anybody else that the MCA is a discredited party.

The results of the recent Ulu Selangor and Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-elections only confirm this. Thus in Ulu Selangor Parliamentary by-election, although Michael Chen won the seat, he has not won more than 30 per cent of the Chinese votes who turned out to vote. In Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election, the MCA did not get more then 20-25% of the Chinese votes who came out to poll.

Propaganda is one thing, and reality is another. This is why the UMNO has decided, in utter disregard of MCA views, to form coalition governments with the PPP and the Gerakan. For if the UMNO is confident of the MCA ability to win back its power base, it would never have entered into coalition governments with Gerakan and the PPP.

What is surprising is that the UMNO should take the short-sighted view of thinking that by forcing coalition governments with the Gerakan and the PPP, they will be able to assure themselves of the people’s support.
The UMNO will find that its calculations are all wrong. Those who had supported the Gerakan and the PPP in the 1969 General Election did so not because of the party’s sake, but because of their opposition to the whole range of political, economic, social, cultural and educational policies of the Alliance.

Now that the Gerakan and the PPP, for the sake of short-term gain and the transitory pleasure of being near to power, have betrayed the people’s hopes and aspirations, the masses have turned away from the Gerakan and the PPP.

Basically, the UMNO and the Alliance can only get the popular support of the people if it changes all its economic, political, social, cultural and educational policies to meet the wishes of the people.

(2) The possibility of a coalition between the UMNO and PAS shows that UMNO itself is not sure about its own rural Malay base at the next general election. For if the UMNO is supremely confident about its rural Malay base, it would have treated the PAS with utter contempt.

Thus, the two conclusions we can draw from the coalition government trend in West Malaysia are:

(1) UMNO has absolutely no faith or confidence in the ability of the MCA to regain Chinese support, and has virtually written them off as a discredited political party.
(2) The UMNO itself is not certain of its hold over the rural Malays, and thus its present preparedness to negotiate with PAS for coalition government.