By Parliament Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, on June 6, 1978:
DAP calls on MCA leaders to stop ‘race-baiting’ in order to get political support and votes
The DAP deplores the racial arguments being used by MCA, as evidenced by the speech of the Minister of Health, Tan Sri Chong Hon Nyan, in Malacca over the weekend that if the electorate vote for the DAP in the next elections, there would be a Malay government on the one hand and a Chinese opposition on the other.
I call on MCA leaders to stop ‘race baiting’ in order to get political support and votes. It is because of the MCA politics of giving a racial twist to everything in Malaysia which has created all the Problems which the people of the country are facing 21 years after Independence.
The DAP is a multi-racial, Malaysian political movement, and our candidates will be drawn from all racial groups. The DAP is therefore not a Chinese opposition party, but a Malaysian opposition party.
Two days ago, the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, had expressed the hope that in the general elections, all politicians will avoid doing or saying anything that may aggravate racial sentiments and emotions. It is speeches like the one by Tan Sri Chong Hon Nyan which will aggravate racial sentiments and emotion, for he is in fact telling every citizen in the country to act solely on racial considerations, and not as a Malaysian. These speeches and utterances are the greatest disservice to the task of creating nation unity.
I the last few weeks, many UMNO Ministers and leaders have also made it their favourite theme warning the Opposition parties not to raise racial and sensitive issues. In reality, it has been the UMNO Supreme Council elections, who have been \harping on racial issues, about the dangers to the Malay race if UMNO is weak, on Malay unity, and related issues, which have aggravated the sense of insecurity of non-Malays generally.
I suggest that the Inspector General of Police should issues a warning to the UMNO leaders to stop raising these racial issues, and direct his officers to prosecute UMNO leaders if they continue to harp on themes which aggravate racial sentiments and emotions.
The Elections Commission has announced that there will be a code of electoral behaviour. As in previous general elections, this code of electoral behaviour is empty code, which does not ensure that the general elections are a clean and democratic one. I suggest that all political parties, the Elections Commission and the Police should have a round-table conference to work out a meaningful code of electoral behaviour, which is aimed not only at the smooth holding of general elections, but would ensure a democratic and fair elections campaign. This code should lay down guidelines to ensure that political parties do not do or say anything which aggravate racial sentiments or emotions, like the speech by Tan Sri Chong Hong Nyan.
Towards this end, the DAP proposes that in the general election, no party or candidate should be allowed to call on Malays to unite, or Chinese to unite or Indians to unite; nor should anyone be allowed to try to panic whether the Malays, or Chinese or Indians about the dangers or consequences to the race should they vote this way or that; nor should and party or candidate be allowed to urge the Malays or Chinese or Indians that they should vote from racial considerations. This is the DAP’s challenge to the Barisan Nasional parties to work out guidelines for the election campaign where racial sensitivities and feelings will not be whipped up by irresponsible politicians.
If the Barisan Nasional declines to respond to the DAP challenge, then it is clear that it is the Barisan parties which are capitalising o racial issues for votes.