by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 22.3.1982
DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir to relax ban on public rallies during general elections to ensure a meaningful elections, and not a ‘stifled’ campaign
When he announced the date of dissolution of Parliament and the Peninsular State Assemblies, the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said he was doing so in advance to give the Opposition time “to prepare for their final days”.
It is clear that Dr. Mahathir’s election team had worked out a overall strategy to try to ‘wipe out’ the Opposition in the coming general elections.
Central to this Barisan strategy to wipe out the Opposition, and in particular the DAP, is the continued ban on public rallies to deny the Opposition access of communication to the public to explain the political issues at stake in the 1982 general elections.
Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa had stated that the Opposition had now no issues for the general elections. If this is the case, then there should be even less fear of the Barisan to allow public rallies to be held.
The ‘security’ excuse to justify the continued ban on public rallies is completely unacceptable by the people. It is not the ‘security’ of the country that the Barisan is talking about when it continues to ban public rallies for the elections, but the ‘security’ of the Barisan seats at both Parliamentary and State Assembly seats.
There is no doubt that the Barisan would suffer suvere losses at both Parliamentary and State Assembly elections if public rallies are allowed, and the people given an opportunity to hear the different political platforms and programmes of the contesting parties, and not as is going to happen, shut out from Oppostion issues on the one hand while being pumped through radio, television and the press with the one-sided Barisan political propaganda.
The DAP calls on the Prime Minister to reconsider the continued ban on public rallies to ensure that the coming general elections would be a meaningful one, for elections does not mean the casting of the vote on polling day, but even more important, the process of passing political judgement by the people after an intensive political discussion, as the holding of public rallies, etc.
In previous general election before 1978, political parities held multiple rallies in one constituency per night, which might have stretched police personnel to the fullest extent, where five or six rallies are held.
This problem could be resolved, and ‘security’ concern looked after, by new arrangements where by no more than one or two public rallies could be held in one constituency for each night.
A total ban on public rallies is however completely unjustifiable, and such a general elections cannot be described as fair, democratic or just.
A Stronger Opposition is needed to ensure a Clean, Effective and Trustworthy Government
Dr. Mahathir said that the Barisan’s manifesto theme would be:
A Government that is clean effective and trustworthy
The real fact is that there can only be a clean, effective and trustworthy government if there is a strengthened Opposition to keep the Government on its toes, and provide the checks and balances to prevent abuse of power, corruption and gross inefficiency. Dr. Mahathir knows better than anyone else the famous aphorism that ‘Power corrupts and Absolute Power corrupts absolutely’.
Contrary to what Dr. Mahathir wants to project, the country in the 1982 general elections is teeming with basic socio-economic, political, educational, cultural and nation building issues, like continued social and economic injustices and inequalities, serious erosion of democratic freedoms and human rights, educational failures and discrimination, the rise of extremism which rejects Malaysia as a multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-cultural society, religious fanaticism, rampant corruption and bureaucratic rudeness and inefficiency.
If despite these teeming issues, Dr. Mahathir could believe that there are no issues facing the country, then he would be led to believe that he is operation a perfect government should he gain further victories in the coming general elections.
This only lead to a very unhealthy political state of affairs, and a government which would be far from clean, effective and trustworthy.
Although the DAP would be faced with the onslaught of the Barisan juggernaut in the 1982 general elections, which use its entire might of its money-power to try to crush the DAP, after denying us the democratic right to freely campaign, we in the DAP are prepared to face the verdict of the people.