The significance and meaning of the Kajang by-election

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the first DAP Kajang by-election public rally at Kajang town on Tuesday, 16th October 1973 at 9.30 p.m.

The significance and meaning of the Kajang by-election

Although the Kajang by-election concerns only a Selangor State Assembly seat, its significance ranges far beyond Kajang or the Selangor State Assembly.

What is at issue is not merely whether the son of an Alliance Assemblyman has the right to succeed to his late father’s seat, as if it is part of family property, but whether the Alliance record of the past 18 years, especially those of the last four years, should receive public endorsement.

This is because although the voters of Kajang will be voting as to who is to be their new State Assemblyman, they will in fact be asked to endorse the entire spectrum of Alliance political, economic, educational and cultural policies and record, especially those of the last four years.

It would be useful to review the Alliance record in the political, economic, educational and cultural fields before the Kajang voters go to the polls to pass judgement on them on November 3.

An overall survey of Alliance policies, especially of the last four years, can only lead to one conclusion: That the Alliance is creating an even more unjust Malaysian society.

Political: Politically, we see three major assaults on the ramparts of democratic rights of the people in the past four years. Firstly, in February 1971, the Malaysian Constitution was amended to remove the traditional parliamentary immunity of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen, in an effort to silence Opposition MPs and State Assemblymen who are conscientious in the articulation of the people’s hopes and fears, joys and sorrows.

Secondly, the Constitution was further tampered with and amended to disenfranchise one million people in Kuala Lumpur and remove their democratic right to elect their own Selangor State Assemblymen through the abolition of nine Selangor State Assemblymen seats. This move was made because the people of Kuala Lumpur had over the years demonstrated without fail their consistent repudiation of the Alliance policies.

Thirdly, the Malaysian press came under unprecedented government pressure to toe the Alliance line. We thus saw in June the black-out of all news about the MCA power struggle in the Chinese press, although inexplicably, the Malay press were allowed freedom to publish them. What is the reason for this double standard?

Economical: Economically, the last two years saw the Alliance throwing the people, especially the poor and low income, to the exploitation and fleecing by a tiny minority of MCA tycoon-compradores and UMNO new capitalists who manipulate prices inflation to make new fortunes.

While the overwhelming majority of the rakyat in the kampongs, new villages and estate groaned and suffered under the growing weight of increasing prices, a minority of Alliance financial backers run up bigger and bigger bank accounts.

Food prices have risen without stop. Whether it is rice, cooking oil, flour, ikan bilis, roti, milk, biscuits, meat, they have all shot up in price from 50 to 100%. Together with imported and local inflation of essential commodities, chronic scarcity of essential goods such as rice, flour and sugar, high food prices have become the constant worries of the Malaysian housewife who find that their purchasing power have become smaller and smaller.

Unemployment, meanwhile, grows by leaps and bounds. In 1960, the unemployment rate was 3%. Today, three five-year Plans after, the unemployment rate has not been reduced. On the contrary, it has now exceeded 10%. More and more of our children are now leaving school without any hope of getting any gainful employment.

The Alliance continues to adopt the colonial land policy to alienate hundreds and thousands of acres of land to the monopoly-capitalist groups, whether local or foreign, but refuses to give a few acres of land each to the genuine landless.

Education: In March this year, the country found with shock that 14400 of our children who sat for the M.C.E. last year failed, notwithstanding their scoring a string of distinctions in science, mathematics, English language, geography, history, all because of failure in Bahasa Malaysia.

This was the third year in succession of mass failures. In 1970, 6000 students failed; in 1971, 8000 failed, bringing the total to date to 29000.

How many more will fail in the MCE examination this year, which begins next month? 20000? 30000?

A system which fails tens of thousands of intelligent, above-average students is an unjust and unequal education system which has no place in a modern, egalitarian society.

Side by side with the shocking failures among non-Malay students, there is the equally serious problem of high rate of failures among Malay students in science and mathematics. If the rural Malays are to make a breakthrough into modern society, then it is necessary that they master science and mathematics. It is a mark of failure of the 18 years Alliance government record that this problem remains as acute as pre-Merdeka. The Alliance is not helping the Malays as a whole, but only rich Malays, while the poor Malays are neglected and ignored.

A growing educational problem in Malaysia is the denial of higher education opportunities to Malaysian students with the requisite academic qualifications. More and more students are turned away from pre-university and university places, and denied the opportunity to develop their talents and potential to the fullest – as is their right in a democratic country.

There is a crying need in Malaysia today for education to be democratized so that no Malaysian student is denied higher education opportunities on grounds of finance, government regulations, or other man-made rules.

Why the people of Kajang should vote for the DAP candidate

It is clear from a study of the Alliance record, especially of the past four years, that the people must make clear their disapproval and opposition so that changes can be made in the interest of the ordinary Malaysians of all races.

The voters of Kajang should vote for the DAP candidate, Sdr. Mohamed Yunos bin Said, so that the voice of the people can be consistently, effectively and courageously brought into the Selangor State Assembly.

Sdr. Daing Ibrahim bin Othman, DAP National Vice Chairman, has aptly put it earlier today:

“Although the Kajang by –election is a three-cornered fight, it is in fact a contest between the Alliance and the DAP. The PEKEMAS do not count. They have neither the support of the urban or rural areas. The PEKEMAS can only split the people’s unity and solidarity.”

I regret that the Pekemas has entered into the Kajang by-election. There are recently three by-elections. First, the Johore Timor Parliamentary by-election to fill the vacancy created by the death of Tun Dr. Ismail. Parti Pekemas wanted to contest the seat, and we in DAP gave way to them, although it is the DAP, and not the Pekemas, which has got a branch in Mersing – the centre of Johore Timor. In the event, the Pekemas candidate for Johore Timor got himself disqualified.

Secondly, there is going to be a by-election in Johore Lama (Kota Tinggi) and Parti Pekemas also wanted to contest there. The DAP has again given way to them.

But when DAP wanted to contest in Kajang, Parti Pekemas also insists on coming in. Such greedy and unreasonable attitude is clearly unhelpful in promoting opposition unity and solidarity.

Be that as it may, the people of Kajang must exercise their sacred right of democratic choice on Nov. 3.

The DAP has proved over the years that it is a consistent political party with a set of political beliefs and principles which it does not depart and deviate from, although in the process, we had to purge the party of opportunists and traitors. In the process, the DAP has emerged stronger and healthier.

The people of Kajang will remember that in the 1969 General Elections, all the Parti Pekemas leaders campaigned on the Gerakan ticket, and asked for the people’s support to deny the Alliance the two-thirds majority in Parliament to tamper and change the Constitution at their whim and fancy.

But the first thing the Pekemas leaders did in Parliament was to put up their hands to provide the Alliance the two-thirds majority to tamper with the Constitution, which removed the traditional privilege of Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen to raise the people’s aspirations without fear of court prosecution.

November 3, therefore, will be an important date in the political history of Malaysia.

Let the people of Kajang on November 3, vote (i) against the Alliance political, economic and educational policies particularly of the past four years (ii) vote against political opportunism and betrayal of the people’s trust and confidence as represented by Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s Gerakan party; and (iii) vote for an opposition party which is consistent in its record, and not promise one thing in elections and do another thing after elections.

I have confidence that the DAP candidate, Sdr. Mahamad Yunos bin Said will be able to discharge his responsibilities conscientiously and ably if he is chosen as State Assemblyman for Kajang on Nov. 3.