Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Kota Kinabalu Airport on arrival for a four-day Sabah visit on Wednesday, April 16, 1986 at 12.30 p.m.
DAP to decide in the next one or two days whether to contest Sabah state general elections or to support PBS to allow it to prove to Kuala Lumpur that it had the overwhelming support of the people of Sabah
I have come for a four-day visit to Sabah to see for myself the latest political developments in the state; to meet Sabah DAP leaders, members and supporters; and to decide in a day or two whether the DAP should contest the Sabah State General Elections or to support the PBS to allow it to prove to Kuala Lumpur that it had the overwhelming support of the people of Sabah.
The DAP’s decision would be made after the fullest discussion with Sabah DAP leaders, members and supporters. I am personally inclined towards the view that the DAP should stay out of the Sabah State General Elections this time, and support PBS’ general elections campaign to demonstrate to the Federal authorities that the people of Sabah are united in demanding that Kuala Lumpur respect their democratic right to elect the government of their choice, and to express their unreserved condemnation of the 12-day of anarchy perpetrated by USNO and Berjaya leaders in March, and the 11-month campaign by both parties to resort to unconstitutional and extra-parliamentary tactics to destabilize the PBS Government and topple Datuk Joseph Pairin as Sabah Chief Minister.
There is of course merit in the argument that the DAP Contest from three to nine State Assembly seats, with the open and public commitment that if elected, the DAP Assemblymen would give full support to the PBS against any attempt by any Sabah State political party or the Barisan Nasional and the Federal authorities to topple any PBS Government. This would enable the Sabah DAP to have a breakthrough in the Sabah State Assembly, as well as helping the PBS to stabilize its State Government.
Although I am personally inclined towards the view that in view of the extraordinary events which had taken place in Sabah, particularly in March, a final decision on whether the DAP would contest the Sabah State General Elections or stay out and support the PBS general elections campaign would be announced in a day of two, after a final round of discussions with DAP Sabah leaders and members.
Another factor we have to take into account is the imminence of the Parliamentary general elections.
The MCA has revealed that last Saturday night, the first round of preliminary meeting to allocate seats among Barisan Nasional component parties was held. Ghaffar baba, the UMNO National Vice President and Barisan nsaional Secretary-General, had told Barisan component parties to start general elections campaigning immediately, as the general elections campaign immediately, as the general elections campaign period would be very short this time.
This confirmed what I had been told earlier that the government will amend the elections regulations to halve the minimum election campaign period of 14 days from Nomination Day to pooling Day to only 7 days. This will undoubtedly make the next national general elections the most undemocratic, unfair and unjust in the history of Malaysian elections.
The people of Sabah will remember clearly that last November, for the four by-election in Sabah of Karamunting, Balung, Sukau and Buang Sayang, the Elections Commission provided for 86 days delay before the polling dates on January 24 and 25, and how the Elections Commission kept postponing its decision to fix election dates for the Sabah State general elections, although the Sabah Assembly was dissolved on February 24.
All these delays were meant to benefits the Barisan Nasional parties or allies in Sabah, like Berjaya and USNO. But for the Federal Parliamentary general elections, the Barisan Nasional Government want the Elections Commission to do the opposite – to change the law to reduce the mimimum of two-weeks’ campaigning to a mere seven days.
How could the Elections Commission claim it is independent and impartial as provided for by the Constitution, which gave it the important task of conducting fair and democratic general elections, when the Elections Commission had to take orders from the UMNO?
All Malaysians, whether in Sabah, Sarawak or Peninsular Malaysia, must protest loudly and strongly if the doming national general elections turn out to be the most undemocratic, unfair and unjust in Malaysian electoral history, for this will be another example that the Barisan Nasional cannot be trusted with too much political power.
Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said that the national general elections would not be held simultaneously with the Sabah elections, if he wants to do it, it could still done after the end of the Dewan Negara proceedings which is scheduled to end on Friday, 18th April 1986. With the change of the election regulations to halve campaign time from 14 days to seven days, it would still be possible to hold national general elections together with the Sabah state general elections together with the Sabah state general elections on May 5 and 6.
But if this happen, we will have the peculiar situation where the Sabah State General Elections would have a 16-day campaign period from April 19 to May 5, while the national general elections would have a campaign period of seven days – which will clearly highlight how unfair, unreasonable and undemocratic the Barisan Nasional has become.
I have no doubt that if Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had succeeded in imposing the Sabah Formula on PBS, the national general elections would definitively had been held simuuaneously with the Sabah state general elections.
The Prime Minister cannot delay the national general elections for too long however, because the deepening economic recession with the collapse of the price of major commodities is plunging Malaysia into a new economic and financial crisis. Last October, the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, budgeted for a crude petroleum price of US $26 per barrel, but in less than five months, the world price of crude petroleum fell below the US $10 per barrel barrier!
There is now the new problem in UMNO with the 2M split, with Datuk Musa Hitam falling out with Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir, reducing the 2M government into a 1M Government.
Nationally, the DAP is trying to cope with a national general elections which will be the most undemocratic, unfair and unjust in history. The coming general elections is also crucial for the time has come to deny the Barisan Nasional its traditional two-third majority in Parliament – which has become a threat to democracy, freedom and human rights.