General Elections may be held in November after the Prime Minister’s China trip

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP ceramah at Ayer ltam on Saturday, 6.7.1985 at 8 pm, during the two-day tour of Bukit Bendera parliamentary constituency.

General Elections may be held in November after the Prime Minister’s China trip.

There are indications that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, may be seriously considering calling snap general elections after his China trip in November. If this happens, then it will be the first time in Malaysian history when general elections are held at the end of the year.

It is no no secret that Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had early this year kept the
option of holding general elections this year open. In fact, at the beginning of this
year, the Prime Minister and other Ministers were making speeches and
doing things like the PM’s highly politicised visits to the various States,
which are preparations for general elections.

The rationale for holding general elections this year, although Parliament’s term
does not expire until 1987, is economic. The economic recession is expected
to worsen in the next two years, and the Barisan Nasional would have a very bad
economic situation in its hands if general elections are held next year or 1987.

The grim economic prospects could be gauged by the government’s failure to
create an upturn in the shares market, despite the pumping of hundreds of millions
of dollars to boost up share prices. Last week, the one per-cent drop in bank
interest rates managed to up share prices for only one day, before a general collapse
of the stock market the next day.

This explained the pressure UMNO put on MGA in December to resolve the
Neo Yee Pan-Tan Koon Swan MCA power struggle, to the extent that the
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, issued the unprecedented eviction order to
MCA to leave Barisan Nasional until its house had been put in order.

The effect of this ‘electric shock’ was short-lived, for although it resulted
in the January 30 peace pact between the Neo Yee Pan and Tan Koon Swan
MCA factions, in the presence of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir who acted as
witness, the two MCA factions quickly resumed quarrelling before the ink on their
peace pact was dry.

The disarray in MCA was not the only political factor which was creating problems
For the holding general elections this year. The Sabah general elections results was another,
where the Barisan Nasional representive, Berjaya led by Datuk Harris Salleh, was virtually
wiped out of the political map despite campaign assistance by virtually the entire
Barisan Nasional leadership.

This was why at the end of April and May, the previous pace of pre electioneering speeches
and activities of the Federal leaders seemed to have slackened. The crammed
programme of the Prime Minister in his visits to various States suddenly ceased, but recently,
the Prime Minister’s visits had resumed.

The Prime Minister has two choices. He could defer general elections until next year,
with the prospect of having a worsened economic situation. However, there is no surety that
the political conditions would improve.

Or he could decide to go through with general elections this year, taking the chances that he
could influence the political development as by imposing his own solution on the MCA
power struggle on the eve of general elections. In Sabah, he is already trying to achieve his
political objective of forcing the PBS government of Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan to accept
USNO and even Berjaya into a coalition government probably with Tun Mustapha being offered the post
Sabah’s Tuan Yang di-Pertua or Governor.

The other attraction of general elections this year is that it would by itself solve the various
political problems facing Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, whether in MCA, in Sabah,
or in Gerakan (with the mass camp switchings) or in UMNO afflicted with divisional power
struggles, not to mention Sarawak.

It is for this reason why there is a great likelihood that after the Prime Minister’s visit to Ghina
In November, he would call snap general elections, which would enable him to play the
‘China card’ as was done by Tun Razak in the 1974 general elections.