Dr. Mahathir has set the legal stage to hold snap general elections within 7 days from Nomination to Polling Day

Speech (Part II) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Klang Ceramah held at Hokkien Association Klang on Saturday, 7th June 1986 at 8 p.m.

Dr. Mahathir has set the legal stage to hold snap general elections within 7 days from Nomination to Polling Day

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has set the legal stage to hold snap general elections within 7 days from Nomination Day to Polling Day, making the coming general elections the most unfair and undemocratic in Malaysia history.

The government gazetted the Elections (Conduct of Elections) Regulations 1986 on 15th May 1986 amending the 1981 regulations which provided that there should be a minimum of 14 days of campaigning from Nomination to Polling Day.

Under Section 3(1) of the 1981 Regulations, after dissolution of Parliament, and the issue of election writ, the Election Commission shall publish in the Gazette and in one or more daily newspapers the date of Nomination. The old regulation providing that there should be a minimum of seven days between publication of the notice and nomination and a minimum of 14 days between nomination and polling has been altered and shortened to a minimum of four days between publication of notice and nomination and a minimum of seven days between Nomination and Polling.

In 1982, Parliament was dissolved on March 29, Nomination on April 7 and Polling on April 22, involving 23 days from Dissolution to Polling.

In the coming general elections, Dissolution to Polling could be over in 12 days, with the minimum of seven days for campaigning from Nomination to Polling.

It is most ironical that of the four Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir professes to be the most intellectual, who is not afraid of arguments, ideas and debate, but he is the Prime Minister who is reducing the entire general elections campaign into a farce where the people would have no opportunity to hear, weigh and choose between competing parties, candidates and policies.

The DAP protests in the strongest possible terms against the latest emasculation of parliamentary democracy, where the essence and substance of democracy is being progressively denuded to leave intact the external form and trappings.

The DAP will send a party delegation after Hari Raya to meet the Elections Commission to protest against the latest elections regulations, which had clearly been framed on the directive of the Barisan Nasional government, violating the Constitutional guarantee of independence, impartiality and democratic fairness for the Elections Commission, and to demand that the old regulations should be restored where there is a minimum of 14 days for elections campaign from Nomination to Polling Day.

The Elections Commission has also amended the regulations raising the deposit for Parliamentary and State Assembly candidate from $1,000 and $5,000 to $3,000 respectively.

For the past few months, Barisan Nasional leaders have been openly talking about the $5,000 deposit for Parliamentary candidate and $3,000 for State Assembly candidate, which shows that again the Elections Commission had violated its constitutional independence by kowtowing to the directives of the Barisan Nasional Government.

The MCA leadership claims that they are no more ‘passengers’ on the Barisan Nasional ship, and that they dare to speak up against injustice, inequality, undemocratic practices and unconstitutional deeds. Gerakan leaders claim that they dare to be more outspoken than the MCA leaders, whom they label as ‘dumb puppets’.

Where are the voices of MCA and Gerakan against this latest undemocratic and unconstitutional abuse of power by the Barisan Nasional Government to make the Elections Commission gazette so unfair, undemocratic and unjust election rules?

Will general elections be held after Hari Raya Puasa?

The question that is the hottest question in political circles is whether general elections would be held after the Hari Raya Puasa. Recently there were news reports that Parliament had sent out notices with regard to Dewan Rakyat meetings for two weeks from July 14 to July 25; and today, we read of the Elections Commission announcement that the annual voters’ registration exercise and revision of the electoral rolls would be held for 38 days from June 16 to July 24.

These two announcements would on surface indicate that general elections could not be held until after July. This need not be the case.

Under the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat, Section 11 provides that the first sitting of each Session (which is the Official Opening of each Parliamentary session by the Yang di Pertuan Agong) is summoned by proclamation of the Yang di Pertuan Agong. The dates of meetings of Parliament during the whole Parliamentary year are determined ‘at least 28 days before the commencement of each Session’.

This means that the July and even October 1986 meeting of Parliament were fixed as far back as January this year, and notices for such meetings are sent out automatically by Parliament without reference to the Cabinet.

A top Parliamentary official has confirmed to me that Parliament had not and need not get the clearance of the Prime Minister or Cabinet to send out the notice for parliamentary meeting for July 14, and that there is nothing to stop the prime minister to dissolve Parliament and call general elections before July 14, or even when the Dewan Rakyat is meeting.

Similarly, the announcement of the revision of electoral roll could be an implementation of a time-table decided before-hand, although I would not rule out the possibility that both announcements could be ‘ruses’ to confuse the Opposition if there is the decision to hold general elections after Hari Raya, such as having the polling date in end June/early July.

There are of course various indications pointing to a possible dissolution after Hari Raya Puasa, with the release of the Kampong Memali detainess, the settlement temporarily of the CUEPACS wage claim, the admission of PBS into Barisan Nasional and the ending of the Gerakan fracas. The economy will get worse next year, as the Prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had for the first time publicly forecast that Malaysia’s economic growth this year will be only 1.6 to 2 per cent, as compared to the 5.6% growth forecast of the Government in March when presenting the Fifth Malaysia Plan. Furthermore, more and more scandals are coming to public light, even before the BMF Scandal – the Scandal of Scandals – could be fully accounted for.

Next year, the fight for the UMNO Presidential and other leadership stakes would start in earnest, and with the recent Musa crisis, is likely to dominate UMNO politics. I tend therefore to believe that general elections is more likely this year than next year. The question is whether it is end June/early July or September. Both possibilities cannot be ruled out at present.