Two more reasons why there is going to be early general elections

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the Malacca DAP State General Elections Preparations Sub-Committee on Tuesday, 12th September 1972 at 5 p.m.

Two more reasons why there is going to be early general elections

In Penang last week, I predicted that there is going to be early general elections. I had said that I would not rule out the possibility of general elections being called within the next 12 months, although the Alliance government could delay until February 1976.

The main reasons I had given were firstly, the Second Malaysia Plan, and secondly, the state of the Opposition parties at present.

The Second Malaysia Plan ends in 1975, and if the general elections are held in late 1974, 1975 or 1976, then the people, particularly those in the kampongs, would expect the government to show results. For the last two years, the government had boasted through the radio, television and the press about how the Second Malaysia Plan would completely change the face of Malaysia and bring benefits and improved standards if living to the poor, particularly kampong poor. The performance of the Second Malaysia Plan so far had been very dismal, and from the present projections of the Second Malaysia Plan performance, 1975 is not going to see any material change in the livelihood of the poor, whether in the kampongs, estates, new villages or urban slums. This will be disastrous to the Alliance if they had to show results to match their promises, as they would have to do so in 1975, or even late 1974. If general elections are held in 1973, then the Alliance can still campaign on the promises of the Second Malaysia Plan.

Secondly, the Alliance party will be tempted to exploit on the present state of disarray among Opposition parties – particular with the sell-out and betrayal by the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia and the People’s Progressive Party.

Since my visit to Penang last week, there are two fresh reasons from the events of the last week which strengthened the possibility of early general elections.

There are:

(I) Agreement in principle between UMNO and PAS to form coalition governments at Federal and State levels.

Once the UMNO has reached such an agreement with PAS, there is no doubt that it would want to reap the electoral advantage of such a coalition by holding early general elections.

UMNO has agreed to form coalition governments with the PAS at Federal and State levels because the UMNO is not sure about its power base in the rural areas.

With the formation or coalition governments with PAS in the near future, the UMNO would want to ensure that electorally it would be able to benefit. I am quite sure that such a coalition must be accompanied by a secret accord on an electoral agreement between UMNO and PAS. It would be to UMNO’s interest to hold early general elections if it is to reap full benefit from such a coalition arrangement and electoral understanding.

(2) The manner the Elections Commission is conducting the voters’ registration exercise.

This year, the Elections Commission is conducting the voter’s registration exercise in a most unfair, unjust and undemocratic manner. It is clear that the intention is to ensure the minimum registration of voters in the towns and opposition strong-holds, and the maximum registration of voters in Alliance areas and in the kampongs.

In fact, I have received complaints from different branches that registration agents are going round the towns to cancel out registered voters – even though they happen to be out at work or some other business – while refusing to register new eligible voters.

It is clear that there is a deliberate design behind this operation. It is likely that this will be the last exercise to register voters before the next general elections.

Thus, those whose names are cancelled, or those who did not register themselves by 30th of this month, will not be able to cast their votes at the next general elections. If the Opposition strongholds are undermined in this fashion, then the Alliance will be at a distinct advantage.

This is why the Elections Commission, for the first time in Malaysian History, has refused to give registration forms to opposition parties to help in securing maximum registration of all eligible voters.

All DAP Branches must conduct intensive publicity and propaganda campaigns to expose the Elections Commission and the Alliance Government in its unfair, unjust and undemocratic way in carrying out the exercise to register voters.

This is why up to now, although two weeks of the registration campaign is past, the overwhelming majority of the eligible new voters, especially those in towns and Opposition areas, are not aware of the registration exercise, and those who are aware, do not know where to go and register.

The Elections Commission wants to make it as inconvenient as possible for the ordinary people in towns to go and register, so that there will be a low turn-out for registration. I believe this year, there will be the lowest turn-out of registration of new eligible voters in the urban areas in the history of Malaysia.

This strengthens the view that all this is being done in anticipation of general elections next year.

All DAP branches should therefore prepare themselves for early general elections.