Call on Elections Commission to summon an all-party meeting to seek views before amending the elections regulations relating to campaign period and the deposits for parliamentary and State Assembly candidates

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP’s second ceramah in the nation-wide ‘Deny Barisan Nasional Two-Third Majority’ campaign held at Federal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, April 27, 1986 at 8 pm

Call on Elections Commission to summon an all-party meeting to seek views before amending the elections regulations relating to campaign period and the deposits for parliamentary and State Assembly candidates

The Malaysian Constitutin provides for an independent and impartial Elections Commission to conduct a fair, honest, clean and democratic elections.

However, because of its traditional parliamentary majority which has bred in the Barisan Nasional leaders the habit of violating the Constitution and the laws, the Elections Commission has been reduced to a departmental role to take orders and directives from the government.

For several months, words had come out from UMNO power sources that the government had decided to make the coming general elections the most unfair and undemocratic elections in Malaysian history by shortening the minimum election campaign period from 14 days to seven days.

Although the new election regulations would be providing for a seven-day period between Nomication and Polling, effective campaign period would be five days when the first day, Nomination, and the last day, Polling, are excluded. This would be most unfair to the Opposition, who would not be able to have time to get their elections machinery under way when it would be time for polling.

The Barisan Nasional would have an immense unfair advantage over the opposition parties, for they are already making use of all the government machinery and resources to start campaigning – as in the holding of illegal public rallies by the Prime Minister in every state since January, and the use of radio and television to spread ‘pure’ Barisan Nasional propaganda.

It has also been known for some time that the Barisan Nasional government hopes to cripple the Opposition parties financially, by raising the deposit for Parliamentary and State Assembly candidates to exorbitant and unbelievable levels.

In the April Parliament, the Elections Act 1958 was amended to raise the ceiling for Parliamentary and State Assembly candidate deposits from $1,000 for both to $5,000 for Parliament and $3,000 for State Assembly.

The UMNO leaders want to crush the Opposition financially by imposing the maximum of $5,000 for Parliamentary candidate and $3,000 for State Assembly candidate for the coming general elections.

Why should the Elections Commission bow to the directives of the UMNO leaders to shorten the campaign period from a minimum of 14 days to seven days, while raising the deposits to $5,000 for Parliamentary candidate and $3,000 for State Assembly Candidate?

As the Constitution provides for an independent and impartial Commission, the Elections Commission should seek the views of all political parties – including the Opposition – before deciding to change the elections regulations with regard to minimum election campaign period and deposits for candidates.

For this reason, I call on the Elections Commission to summon an all-party meeting to seek the views of all political parties about proposed changes to the elections regulations.

I do not know whether the Elections Commission has the real power and authority to call such an all-party meeting without approval from the Prime Minister or the UMNO leadership, but if the Commission has no such real power, then it highlights the unconstitutional conduct of the ruling parties in reducing the Elections Commission to a biased and subservient creature of the government – which is never intended by the Constitution.

If the Elections Commission is not allowed to call such an all-party meeting, and is coerced to change the elections regulations reducing campaign period to seven days and raising deposits to $5,000, then the voters have further reasons in the next general elections to deny Barisan Nasional of its twp-third majority.

This is because the Barisan has used its two-third parliamentary majority not to expand the frontiers of freedom for Malaysians, but to curtail and erode their rights and liberties, making democracy in Malaysia a greater mockery every year.

This is why the DAP has decided to call on Malaysians to deny the Barisan Nasional its two-third parliamentary majority, for this will be the first step to restore our democratic rights and remove the shackles which over the last three decades has been fastened on the fundamental rights enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution.

Remove the shackles on the Constitution, and not to replace the Malaysian Constitution with an Islamic Constitution

I am concerned that there are people, who in their deep frustration with the shackles which has been imposed on the Constitution curtailing the fundamental rights enshrined in the document, are now urging that the entire Malaysian Constitution should be abandoned. They are claiming that they do not mind having an Islamic State and Islamic Constitution.

These are people who want to throw out the baby together with the bathwater – when what is needed is the change of bathwater. Similarly, what we must do to restore our rights is to remove the shackles imposed over the past three years on the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Constitution, and not dump the Constitution altogether.

Certain Chinese society and Chinese educationist groups, without understanding the meaning of an Islamic State and an Islamic Constitution, are now giving open support to the PAS’ objective of an Islamic State.

At first, there were those who sat that in the next general elections, in constituencies where the DAP is not contesting, the Chinese voters should vote PAS. But now, these people are campaigning on the basis that the Chinese voters should vote for PAS, even in constituencies where the DAP has candidates.

This is a very brilliant strategy of certain Gerakan/Tung/Chiau Chung personalities, in particular Ker Choo Ting, to make use of the PAS to split the DAP votes especially in urban constituencies, so that eventually it is the Gerakan or MCA candidates who would win.

What I am worried about this election tactic of the Gerakan/ Tung/Chiau Chung elements is that after the next general elections, it would create situation whereby the possibility of an Islamic State in Malaysia would be brought to our very forefront, when one year ago, such a prospect would have been unthinkable.

The 1982 general elections is a good example. Until the Tung/Chiau Chung slogan of ‘Attack into Barisan to rectify the Barisan’, resulting in the DAP disastrous electoral defeat, the UMNO dare or openly declare its ‘One Language, One Culturre’ Policy or its Policy of Islamisation.

However, when the Tung/Chiau Chung’s slogan of ‘Attack into BN to rectify the BN’ gave the UMNO a landslide election victory, it immediately grasped the opportunity to proclaim in Parliament its ‘One Language, One Culture Policy’.

The same scenario could repeat itself in the next elections. If the PAS Chinese Consultative Committee in the various states succeed in confusing the voters, split the DAP voters, and cause another landslide Barisan victory, then UMNO would be able to go to Parliament to announce its intention to set up an Islamic State. UMNO would even be able to claim that it is doing so to respect the wishes of the Chinese community, who had given support to this concept in their participation in the PAS Chinese Consultative Committees as well in working for PAS in the general elections.

In fact, I would not even rule out the possibility that after the general elections, UMNO and PAS would join forces as happened in the early 1970s, to jointly work for the establishment of an Islamic State, now that the Chinese are prepared to accept such a state system as evidenced by the establishment of PAS Chinese Consultative Committees.

I really shudder to think what harm these people who are now advocating that the Chinese should support PAS and its concept of an Islamic State could do to the future of the Malaysian Chinese and a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious Malaysian nation.

In the establishment of an Islamic State, the non-Muslim would have no political rights whatsoever, for non-Muslim cannot be trusted with interpreting and implementing the Koran, which is the basic of the Islamic State. In that situation, non-Muslims would be excluded from the centre of political power completely. The Prime Minister admitted on Friday that he had met PAS leaders last Sunday, describing the meeting between UMNO and PAS leaders as “a meeting between Muslims”. In an Islamic State, it would be “a system and government to e decided by Muslims” only.

I would urge the PAS Chinese Consultative Committee members, and in particular their mentors, especially those in Gerakan, to stop playing with fire just for their own selfish political interests – for they would be jeopardizing the very basis of Malaysia as a secular, multi-religious, and democratic nation.