Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the first meeting of the new batch of 9 DAP Members of Parliament and 23 State Assemblymen at DAP Jalan Sultan Office, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday, 1st Sept. at 10 a.m.
1. DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen instructed to double up as spokesmen of rural Malays in Parliament and State Assemblies
Eight days ago, the people of Malaysia elected nine DAP Members of Parliament and 23 State Assemblymen to represent them in Parliament and the State Assemblies.
For six states, Kedah, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johore, the DAP is the sole Opposition, while for Penang and for Parliament, the DAP is virtually the only Opposition.
Every DAP Member of Parliament and State Assemblymen must be conscious of their responsibility and task as virtually the only Opposition in the various national and state legislatures. They should not only represent their own constituents, but also the people from other constituencies and other states where the people are denied Opposition representation.
Thus, the rural Malays have virtually lost opposition representation in Parliament and the State Assemblies, and their sufferings and social, economic and educational neglect can find no expression by their own Members of Parliament or State Assemblymen.
Although our Parliamentary and State Assembly candidates in the rural areas did not succeed, and our 9 DAP Members of Parliament and 23 State Assemblymen are primarily from urban or semi-urban constituencies, all DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen are instructed to double up as the spokesmen for the rural Malays whether in Parliament or the State Assemblies.
2. The task of DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen to keep the flame of democracy burning in Malaysia.
With the virtual elimination of all other opposition parties in West Malaysia, it is now the task of the DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen to keep the flame of democracy alight in Malaysia.
Despite the many handicaps, odds and unethical and undemocratic practices of the National Front in the short two-week 1974 general elections campaign, the DAP performed fairly satisfactorily, despite several disappointments; in fact very much more satisfactorily than the many forecasts of doom by political and some press observers and analysts.
The Straits Times, in particular, being an UMNO-owned newspaper, has throughout the election campaign, conducted a subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle campaign against the DAP. Basically its message is to get the voters to vote the National Front and to reject the Opposition. However, if the readers cannot accept and support the National Front, the Straits Time’ second objective is to get them to choose the Pekemas and reject the DAP.
The Straits Times has taken this two-line approach, not because of any love for the Pekemas, but because they follow the National Front calculations that the DAP pose the only serious challenge to the National Front in the 1974 General Elections, and the Pekemas is a useful instrument to use to whittle down the DAP support and votes and hence benefit the National Front.
This was why during the election period, there was a systematic campaign to build up the Pekemas. Of course, the mistake the Pekemas leaders made was to believe in enemy propaganda that they are so powerful and mighty, only to find on the morning after Polling Day that they are in ruins.
This should be a lesson taught us not to fall prey to enemy propaganda, not to be too elated by the myths they are spinning for National Front advantage or to be discouraged by the lies that they are telling to demoralise the DAP and its supporters and well-wishers.
On August 24, 1974, the DAP singly foiled the attempt of the National Front to establish a one-party state and government in Malaysia. We proved wrong the empty boast of Tun Razak during election period that the National Front was going to defeat all Opposition candidates and get them to lose their deposits.
As a result, the beginning of a healthy two-party system has emerged, with the political battle in the 1974 general elections and for the next five years being fought between the DAP and the National Front.
Of course, the National Front leaders would clearly like to see the end and disintegration of the DAP. As far back as June 1972, they had been predicting the disintegration of the DAP. Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie said after polling in Penang that opposition parties would fade from the political scene in Malaysia.
The DAP will prove Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie wrong, for the people of Malaysia do not want a one-party state or government, let alone a National Front monopoly of political power in Malaysia. This is why since August 24, more and more Malaysians have joined the DAP to start the political struggle leading to the next general elections in 1979, and we will be forming branches in new areas and states at an increased pace.
3. National Front MPs and State Assemblymen cannot be the people’s watchdog
Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie’s argument is that there is no need for Opposition parties as the nine parties inside the National Front can develop checks and safeguard to be watchdog of the people’s interest.
The election of 9 DAP MPs and 23 State Assemblymen is a decisive rejection by the people of Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie’s argument and the spurious doctrine that there is no need for an Opposition in Malaysia.
The people have seen with their own eyes in the last 18 years that Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen cannot look after the people’s interests, but only the interests of the class which they come from and which put them in office.
During the general elections, the National Front Candidate for Kuala Lumpur Bandar, Alex Lee, raised the question of the 13 condemned who are serving life sentences for consorting with the Indonesian confrontationist and said that he would plead for their release. We in the DAP, who had done our part in 1968 to save the 13 condemned from the gallows when Alex Lee had at that time shown no interest in their fate, did not want to make this a political issue in the elections period.
Now that the elections are over, I , on behalf of all the DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen would publicly and openly ask all the National Front MPs and State Assemblymen whether they are prepared to join the DAP in sending an all-party Parliamentary and State Assemblymen appeal to the Prime Minister and the Sultan of Johore and Perak to exercise elemency and release the 13 condemned from jail, especially as Malaysia and Indonesia are now good friends.
The response of all the National Front Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen, or lack of response, will be a good test of the sincerity of their devotion to the cause of the ordinary people.
4. Sdr. Fan Yew Teng appointed to head the DAP committee to inquire and draw up a report on the unfair, undemocratic and unethical election practices in the 1974 General Elections
The 1974 general elections was the most unfair and undemocratic general elections in the history of Malaysia, where money was used on a massive scale to buy votes; where the statutory limit of election expenses of $15,000 for State candidates and $20,000 for Parliamentary candidates was flouted blatantly; where there was considerable electoral irregularities like the mass cancellation of voters from the electoral back, the issues of ballot papers and the counting of ballot papers; the abuse and misuse of governmental property and funds for National Front party campaign; etc.
These electoral abuses and unethical and undemocratic practices must not be allowed to be forgotten, but must be compiled and made public, for national and international consumption so that there can be a thorough electoral reform to make the parliamentary process a meaningful one.
For this purposes, the Central Executive Committee of the DAP, at its meeting yesterday, formed a Special Committee on unethical, undemocratic and unfair electoral practices in the 1974 general elections, headed by Sdr. Fan Yew Teng, M.P. for Menglembu, State Assemblymen for Petaling Jaya and National DAP Organising Secretary, to inquire into them and to submit a Report to the CEC, the Elections Commission, the Prime Minister, Parliament, the State Assemblies and the Malaysian public.
Other members of this Committee are: Sdr. Yeap Ghim Guan, Sdr. Daing Ibrahim bin Othman, Sdr. P.Patto, Sdr. Chian Heng Kai, Sdr. John Fernandez, Sdr. Hassan Bakti and Sdr. Lee Kaw.
I expected this Committee to submit its report within a month.
5. DAP expects a high quality of constituency service by DAP MPs and State Assemblymen and increasingly higher degree of dedication
The DAP expects a high quality of constituency service from all DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen. All DAP MPs and State Assemblymen must have a constituency office to serve the people and have regular meet-the-people sessions and conduct regular constituency visits to meet his constituents and ascertain their problems and aspiration.
The DAP Central Executive Committee has appointed a special committee under Sdr. Ibrahim bin Singgeh, Deputy Secretary-General, to overseer and check on the quality of constituency service of DAP Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen. All DAP MPs and State Assemblymen will also be required to submit monthly reports about their service and work to the Central Executive Committee.
Apart from the following states where we are the sole Opposition with lone State Assemblymen, namely Lee Kaw (Johore), Fan Yew Teng (Selangor), Karpal Singh (Kedah), the following have been elected DAP Assembly leaders:
State DAP Assembly Leader
Haji Daing Ibrahim bin Othman – Perak
Liew An Kim – Negri Sembilan
Bernard Sta Maria – Malacca
Oh Teck Aun – Penang