by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 15.11.1985
Does Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir’s speech at Malaysian Law Conference herald a new repression in the run-up to the next general elections.
The DAP is very concerned by the Prime Minister’s speech at the opening of the Eighth Malaysia Law Conference yesterday, in particular his reference to ‘progressive repression’ as an option to the government in the face of challenge by pressure groups.
The Prime Minister’s speech raises the important question whether it heralds a new repression in the country in the run-up to the next general elections.
The reference by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, of the need for the country to consider the option of ‘progressive repression’ or anarchy, in the face of challege by pressure groups, is completely unwarranted, undemocratic and most undesirable.
Criticising what he called ‘newly-formed pressure groups’ for arrogating to themselves ‘powers that are not legitimately theirs’, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir claimed that their ‘disruptive capacity’ was quite considerable, and he said:
“The reaction of the legitimate authorities to the disruptive challenges to their authority is either to become progressively repressive or to retreat from their responsibility.
“The latter will result in anarchy, which in turn will attract forces keen on a seizure of power. Once this happens the usurper will discard democracy and resort to repression in order to stay in power.
“Either way, disruptive challenges to authority in a democracy will lead to repression and the death of democracy.”
This ominous statement by the Prime Minister is based on a number of false premises. Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir should firstly name the ‘newly-formed pressure groups’ which is the subject of his attack. Secondly, he should justify his contention that these pressure groups are arrogating to themselves ‘powers that are not legitimately theirs’. I presume he is referring to the criticism of various aspects of government policies and measures, which they regarded as undemocratic, unfair, unjust and unequal. Criticism of government policies within the bounds of the law and Constitution, and the mobilization of public support for these view, cannot be construed as ‘arrogating to themselves that are not legitimately theirs’. It is the fundamental right of every citizen.
Thirdly, the Prime Minister must prove that the activities of these pressure groups are of ‘quite considerable disruptive capacity’. Does this mean that the criticisms by pressure groups like Aliran, Insan, CAP, Selangor Graduates Society, EPMI, and others would lead to breakdown of law and order, or the violent overbrow of the elected government of Malaysia? Barisan Nasional leaders may worry that they may lose a few seats in the next general elections, and even if they are right, this is disruptive of Barisan Nasional strength which cannot be equated with disruption of Malaysian national body politic. In fact, the disruption of the Barisan Nasional parliamentary fourth-fifth majority to ensure a more democratic and accountable government would be a great good for the Malaysian nation!
Is the Tan Koon Swan faction realizing that what Datuk Dr Neo Yee Pan had been saying after his dismissal from the Cabinet, has highlighted the lack of political principle, political opportunism and self-interestedness of the Tan Koon Swan faction leaders?
Although it is rather late in the day for Datuk Dr Neo Yee Pan to say the things which he is saying now, when he should have said and acted on them when he was in power, there is a clear difference between Neo Yee Pan 1 and Neo Yee Pan 2.
The people can also see that what the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction is trying to do is to be at best, Neo Yee Pan 1, or it could be even worse, taking into account its preparedness to go against the mainstream of Chinese community on the Bukit China issue to achieve UMNO’s favour which it had succeeded now.
The Ad Hoc Committee’s decision to reject any MCA Presidential Address at the Nov. 24 General Assembly is another instance where the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction is prepared to sacrifice the self-respect, dignity and honour of the Malaysian Chinese community to safeguard its vested political interest.
The Nov.24 MCA General Assembly will make history on many counts:
Firstly, it will be the first MCA General Assembly which is conducted virtually by an UMNO leader;
Secondly, it will be the first MCA General Assembly where there will be no MCA Presidential Address. May be, Tan Koon Swan MCA faction can ask Ghaffar Baba to deliver an MCA Presidential Address, as Ghaffar Baba has virtually assumed powers of the MCA President.
Thirdly, it and MCA General Assembly which symbolize the shame of the Malaysian Chinese community, instead of its pride and glory.
If the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction recognize Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pqan as the Acting MCA President, whatever the power conflicts in the last 20-months, it must agree to Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan to deliver the MCA Presidential address. If the MCA faction of Tan Koon Swan does not recognize Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan as Acting President, and also does not recognize Datuk Mak Hon Kam, then clearly this could only mean that the only person it recognize as Acting MCA President is Ghaffar Baba.