The UMNO-enforced settlement of the MCA party crisis is the strongest indicator of early general elections

A Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at,the meeting of
national and state leaders of DAP, DAPSY, Wanita DAP, MPs and Assemblyman held at Hotel Malaya on Saturday, Feb. 2, 1985 at 10 am.

The UMNO-enforced settlement of the MCA party crisis is the strongest indicator of early general elections.

The UMNO enforced settlement of the MCA power struggle is the strongest indicator to date that there would be early general elections, which could be held, anytime from August this year onwards.

It is clear that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed,
was not prepared to allow MCA to destroy his options of calling early elections
although he had early during the MCA party crisis stated that the Courts
would be the proper avenue for the settlement of the MCA crisis. This explained
the Deputy Prime Minister’s shocking order in December to the MCA to leave the Barisan
Nasional if it could not settle. the power crisis, and the January deadline
that the Prime Minister set for both Neo and Tan MCA factions to settle the
MCA power struggle.

I had commented yesterday that the UMNO enforcement of a settlement
of the MCA power struggle is most shameful for the MCA, and the Malaysian
Chinese for whom the MCA claims to represent, for it shows that the MCA
is completely incapable of resolving its own problems and that of its own

Although there were all smiles at the MCA settlement press conference
in the Prime Minister’s Office last Wednesday, whether on the faces of the
UMNO leaders or the two MCA factions leaders, it is clear that the MCA
leaders have never stood on a position of equality with the UMNO leaders,
not only in policy formulation and implementation, but also in the strict
non-interference in each other’s internal party affairs.

When the Prime Minister, Detuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, visits
China sometime this year, then general elections would be around the Corner,
for we will be seeing a repetition of the 1974 general elections where Tun
Razak exploited his China visit to the fullest for the general
elections that soon followed.

There are other reasons which might compel Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamed to call early general elections:

• the possibility of the world economy taking a turn for the
worse in 1986;

• the fear that the UMNO enforced settlement of the MCA party
crisis may not hold and might erupt in a more irreparable form
if there is too long a time-lapse. In any event, the biggest
test of the UMNO-enforced MCA reconciliation would come during
the elections time, when MCA candidates are selected. I envisage
that the MCA power struggle between the Neo and Ten factions
would be revived to such an extent that in the coming general
elections, the MCA candidates may have to be decided by
the Prime Minister or Deputy Prime Minister himself.

• not to give the opposition adequate time to prepare for the
next general elections, whether the DAP or PAS. The Padang
Terap Parliamentary by-e1ection result would be seen as an
indicator by UMNO strategists that their ground had not slipped
away considerably under PAS onslaught, and it would not want
to give PAS further time to gain greater foothold among
the electorate.

The Prime Minister has readied conditions for early general
elections, as in rushing through the redelineation of parliamentary and
state assembly constituencies in the last Parliamentary meeting on
Dec 6, 1984.

DAP proposes a Royal Commission on Electoral and Political abuses to recommend
legislative changes before next general elections.

The next general elections will be the country’s seventh national polls,
but with every general elections, electoral and political abuses have worsened.
Only a few days ago, the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman,
wrote in his weekly column that “When you come to think of it,
politics in this country has decidedly taken a turn for the worse”

Malaysians cannot be proud of this situation, and must be prepared to
put pressure to put things right, The Cabinet had recently met to discuss how
the country should celebrate Parliament’s 25th Anniversary. There is a meaningful
and a meaningless way of celebrating Parliament’s 25th anniversary.

The DAP suggests that the country should celebrate Parliament’s 25th anniversary
in a meaningful manner, not by spending money on big fanfares or spectacular events
which have no meaning or purpose. The country as a whole should take the occasion
to consider how we can make Parliament and the parliamentary democratic process
more meaningful and relevant to the challenges of the l980s, l990s and the 21st
century, and to remove the electoral, political and parliamentary abuses and
shortcomings in our system.

For a start, the DAP proposes the establishment of a Royal Commission
of Inquiry to investigate into electoral and political abuses in our parliamentary
system, and to propose legislative changes which should come into effect before
the next general elections. As the next general elections could be held as early
as August this year, the Royal Commission of Inquiry should be given five months
to complete its works.

Politics of Money

The Politics of Money has emerged as the biggest electoral and political
abuse in our system. In his column, Tunku Abdul Rahman estimated that hundreds
of thousands of dollars must have been spent in the Padang Terap parliamentary
by-election although the law fixes a ceiling of $20,000.

According to the Tunku, “one must be prepared to spend at least $100,000
per constituency, or more. In Sabah and Sarawak, even where the constituencies
are smaller than those of the peninsular, and the number of Voters are comparatitively
small, I was told they spent millions”.

Tunku is correct, although he is referring only to Barisan candidates,
Opposition candidates, at least from the DAP, cannot afford to
spend well beyond the legal ceiling.

This electoral and political abuse must be stamped out, for otherwise,
the first thing an aspiring Barisan MP or Assemblyman learns is to defy the
law and to have contempt for public opinion, using money to buy votes.

The second effect of such Politics of Money is for aspiring MPs or
Assemblyman to regard elections as another form of investment, where returns
are measured in terms of what monetary or material gains they could get in
office, rather than regard the election as a serious public trust to the people
and country.

Under our present electoral system, the election is the first step
of political corruption and immorality! Is the system or the self-seeking
MPs and Assemblymen to blame for regarding politics as a pass-port or
shortcut to monetary and material self-aggrandisement?

Furthermore, how could we expect such MPs and Assemblyman to take a firm
stand against corruption and graft in public and political life, when their
first political experience is political corruption and immorality?

This is why when the $2.5 billion Bumiputera Malaysia Finance scandal
erupted, Barisan Nasional MPs and Assemblymen did not show any outrage at
the gross abuse of trust and the enormity of the graft involved. They were
more outraged at the DAP MPs for repeatedly raising the issue in Parliament
to force the government to take action and to account to the people.

My DAP Parliamentary comrades and I were mercilessly attacked in
Parliament for speaking up on the BMF scandal, as in proposing
the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the BMF loans.

In March 1983, DAP MP for Kuching, Sdr. Sim Kwang Yang, sought to
adjourn Parliament on a matter of urgent, definite public importance,
to discuss an Asian Wall Street Journal report which gave particulars about
how Datuk Hashim Shamsuddin, one of the ‘BMF Six’, had used his position
as Bank Bumiputera director and BMF director, to get monetary benefits for his
own firm.
Particulars were also given with regard to another one of the BMF
Six, the former BMF General Manager, Ibrahim Jaffar.

But Parliament rejected Sim Kwang Yang’s application, and in retrospect,
Parliament had been remiss in its duty, in minimising the losses in the BMF
loans scandal, for if a full debate were permitted in March l983, BMF losses
would not be so colossal!

I saw the same ‘blind eye’ of Berisan MPs to corruption, financial malpractices,
mismanagement and misuse of public funds in the Bank Rakyat
fiasco in 1979, where Barisan MPs were simply not concerned, let alone outraged,
at the $150 million betrayal of public trust and funds.

Such a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Electoral and Political Abuses
should delve deeper into the reasons why MPs from the government
have failed no dismally in being the people‘s champions to demand the
highest standards of public integrity and morality!

DAP calls for law to curb the ‘Politics of Buy and Sell’ by requiring MPs /
Assemblyman to resign their seats when they defect or leave the party
on whose ticket they got elected.

One of the blemishes of Malaysia’s political system is the Politics
of Buy and Sell, where the ruling parties sought to buy over opposition MPs
or Assemblyman through material or monetary inducements, resulting in
public contempt for the system.

In yesterday’s press, it was reported that the Indian Parliament
had voted 4l8-0 in favour of a Bill which requires that any member of a legislature
shall be disqualified if he leaves his party, and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv
Ghandi said the new law would lead to ‘a clean, unpolluted and decent
political life’.

. In Malaysia, the 2M Government started office on the slogan on A
‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ administration, and the inculcation
of Islamic values of honesty, cleanliness and good conducts. But it
not only countenances, but openly condones, the politics of money as well
as the politics of ‘buy and sell’.

The UMNO Youth Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, makes great play about
moral values, and I await his response to my proposal that the Malaysian
political system should be cleansed of its politics of money as well as ‘buy and sell’.

The Politics of ‘Buy and Sell’ could be stopped by the enactment
of a law requiring an MP or Assemblymen to vacate his seat if he
resigns, defects or is expelled from the party on whose ticket he won
the election, returning the mandate to the people to decide in a by-election
who is to represent the electorate.

There are many other areas where the Royal Commission of Inquiry
into Electoral and Political Abuses could study and make recommendations,
as for instance:

• The Politics of Extortion and Blackmail as happened recently in
Tambunan where the Sabah Berjaya State Government ‘punished’
Tambunan voters for voting for Independent Candidate, Datuk
Pairin Kitingan, by abrogating its district status; or in
Peninsular Malaysia with the threat of May 13 if DAP wins; `

• The abuse of Power, where government candidates made full use
of the resources and even funds of the government to help in
the election campaigning, including the use of radio
and television and information department; or in the allocation
of so-called minor development funds for Barisan constituencies
at the disbursement of Barisan MPs while Opposition constituencies
and MPs are discriminated against.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry should seriously consider
the proposal that the Malaysian Constitution should be amended to make
it unequivcally specific that it shall be unconstitutional and illegal
to discriminate against Malaysian citizens on the basis of their
political beliefs, as in their voting during elections, to entrench
the citizen’s fundamental rights from state encroachment.

All Malaysians should be concerned about the deteriorating political
morality and integrity in Malaysia. If political leaders are not prepared to
set an example by making political immorality and lack of integrity a stigma
instead as being something accepted as part and parcel of Malaysian system,
then we are in fact encouraging a nation of corruption and immorality.