Speech by DAP Secretary- General and Member of Parliament Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the 8th June 1975 at 8 p.m.
Selayang By- election: some conclusions
The Selayang parliamentary by-election on June 14 confirmed several political facts in Malaysia. Some of these are:
(i) The MCA’s dependence on the UMNO for success of its candidates. It was amusing to see the MCA President, Dato Lee San Choon, for he was nomination day that 50% of the voters in Selayang are Chinese, from he was trying to claim that MCA on its own steam could get its own candidates elected. The Straits Times, which is more Barisan Nasioal, however, said after the by-election that a MCA woman candidate has been elected by a Malay-majority constituted. The MCA of course cannot fool the UMNO, although it may try to fool the people.
(ii) The fact that in Malaysia, opposition parties are put at an even greater disadvantage during by-elections when compared with general elections. The voting percentage in Selayang was very low. The Barisan Nasional boasted that their victory was because of the superb machinery of the government party, which means that for all their maximum efforts all that they could muster was some 19,000 votes. The low turn out was unfavorable for the DAP, as illustrated by the result.
(iii) There are people who said the DAP made a political error in putting up a Malay candidate. This we cannot agree, for as a multi- racial party, we must adhere commitment to reach out and win over Malaysians of all races.
It is clear that for Dato Harun, the Selayang by-election is also a very important issue, for he wanted to make use of the Selayang result to demonstrate his power on the eve of the UMNO General Assembly where he is contesting for one of the three UMNO Vice Presidential Posts. In the event, however, although the Barisan increased its votes by 2,000 as compared to the 1975 general elections, it was not a very decisive demonstration of strength.
Dato Harun said that the Selayang result showed that the DAP’s role as an opposition party was being questioned by the people. This is indeed a far cry from June 1972 when top UMNO leaders like Tun Razak and Tun Ismail had declared that the DAP had entered the grave.
However, we in the DAP must analyze the reasons for the low turn-out by the voters, and the 7,400 votes polled by the DAP Candidate.
We will have to de-double our effort sand energies to break the barrier erected by the Barisan Nasional hiding the people from the true economic and political realities in the country. The Barisan Nasional is trying to hide its true capitalist character from the people, and with its governmental power and press control, it has been able to go quite far. However, the fact that under the Barisan Nasional, the poor continue to be neglected and downtrodden is a reality which no amount of propaganda can wish away. For instance, although there is a lot of talk of gigantic housing projects by the various governments and government agencies to house the homeless, the fact is that the government is only binding houses for the well-off. For instance, government housing flats are allocated to those with $150 a month, which comprise the large kajority of Malaysians, are disregarded. The DAP’s message is relevant to Malaysians, and we must get this message to every Malaysian broughout the country. This is the challenge to all DAP members and supporters.