Election Commision Secretary’s explanation for the long dates for the four Sabah by-elections most unconvincing

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Nov. 12, 1985:

Election Commision Secretary’s explanation for the long dates for the four Sabah by-elections most unconvincing

The explanation by the Elections Commission Secretary, Haji Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, for the long dates for the four Sabah by-elections of Karamunting, Balung, Sukau and Buang Sayang, is most unconvincing and would satisfy no discerning Malaysian.

Haji Abdul Rashid has given two reasons for the unprecedented 86 days between the ‘forced resignations’ of the four Sabah Assemblymen and the polling dates on January 24 and 25. Firstly, that the Elections Commission intended to send four or five Federal officers to help the returning officers in Sabah during the by-elections but they are involved presently in their respective flood relief committees.

Malaysians must be shocked that the country’s flood relief work and programmes is so dependent on four or five Federal officers that their despatch to Sabah would threaten the entire programme. Is the public service of Malaysia so ‘fragile’ and ‘delicate’ that it could not afford to spare four or five Federal officers to Sabah?

Rashid’s second reason is that the rainy and holiday season currently being faced would not be good for voter turn-out. If this reason is valid, then why did the Elections Commission fixed the Tambunan by-election in the month of December, with polling on Dec. 29, 1984, ‘during the rainy and holiday season’, instead of fixing the polling in January?

Here, it should be noted that the first Tambunan by-election would have been held within 55 days, counting from the announcement of Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan’s forced resignation on August 19, 1984 and the polling date of Oct. 13, 1984. However, the first by-election dated was cancelled following the granting of a court injunction against the by-election two days before polling on Oct. 11, 1984.

The second Tambunan by-election date, following the Supreme Court decision on Nov. 28 to set aside the injunction restraining the holding of the by-election, was fixed within 30 days, with the polling fixed on Dec. 29, 1984.

Furthermore, the Sarawak State general elections was also held in December 1983, which clearly rebuts the argument about ‘rainy and holiday season’ being the reason for not fixing the four by-elections in Sabah in December.

Unless the Elections Commission can come out with a more satisfactory and convincing reason for the unprecedented 86-day long date for the four Sabah by-elections, it would not be able to dispel widespread belief that there had been political interference in the fixing of the by-election dates. Those who want the longest-possible dates for the four Sabah by-elections believe that this will help to destabilize the PBS State Government of Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, which has been immobilized by a protracted political and constitutional crisis artificially created by USNO and Berjaya.

I had through the DAP MP for Sandakan, Sdr. Fung Ket Wing, sent a letter to the Sabah Chief Minister in Kuala Lumpur last Friday after he had attended the Conference of Mentri Besar and Chief Ministers suggesting a solution to resolve the present political and constitutional crisis arising from the doubt over the legality of Pairin’s appointment as Chief Minister of Sabah. My solution would involve the using of the political and democratic process to clear the doubt once and for all, so that the question would not be the cause of the protracted political and constitutional crisis in Sabah. It is of course up to Pairin to decide whether to act on my suggestion or not.

2. Invitation to Yahya Lampong to furnish evidence of discrimination against Muslims by PBS Sabah Government

In his statement yesterday, the USNO MP for Kota Belud, Datuk Yahya Lampong, accused the DAP, among others, of practicing double standards on the ground that we criticised the Berjaya government when it abrogated the district status of Tambunan earlier this year, but kept silent when Muslims in Sabah are being discriminated under the PBS government.

I refute categorically the baseless charge by Yahya Lampong. He and other USNO leaders should be aware that I criticised the PBS move to disqualify USNO Assemblymen for absenting themselves from the Sabah Assembly for three consecutive sittings, as provided for under the Standing Orders, on the ground that this would not help in the healthy democratic political growth in the state.

I can assure Yahya Lampong and the USNO leaders that the DAP would speak up against the PBS Government if he could furnish me with evidence and particulars of discrimination against Muslims in Sabah, for the DAP is opposed to all forms of religious discrimination and intolerance, whether in Sabah or in Malaysia.

I am prepared to meet Yahya Lampong anytime to hear his case. But Yahya Lampong, as a responsible political leader, should not make general allegations of racial discrimination which have the effect of raising religious tensions, unless he could back them with facts and evidence.

UMNO leaders should refrain from trying to divide the PBS

From latest issue of Watan, it is clear that some UMNO leaders like Deputy Foreign Minister, Abdul Kadir Fadzir, the Deputy Minister for works, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin, and the former Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Haji Kamaruddin, are trying to cause a split within the PBS to force the formation of a coalition government in Sabah.

These UMNO leaders are blaming certain PBS leaders of opposing a coalition government, which they claimed had the support of Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Instead of trying to divide the PBS, UMNO leaders should respect the right of Sabahans to decide their own political future.

UMNO should not think that just because they had recently virtually taken over the running of the MCA, with their UMNO National Vice President, Ghaffar Baba, exercising the powers of the MCA President, it has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of all political parties in the country.

UMNO leaders should realise that the political system we have in Malaysia is democracy and not UMNO-cracy!