Will the Barisan Nasional regard victory in the coming general elections as ‘consent of the people’ for the extension of the New Economic Policy after 1990?

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Monday, June 16, 1986:

Will the Barisan Nasional regard victory in the coming general elections as ‘consent of the people’ for the extension of the New Economic Policy after 1990?

Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, said in Kuala Kangsar yesterday that the Government will consider extending the New Economic Policy only after consulting the Barisan Nasional component parties and with the consent of the people.

The impression Ghaffar Baba wants to create is that UMNO will not arbitrarily impose its will on the other component parties in Barisan Nasional and the people as far as the extension of the New Economic Policy after 1990 is concerned.

These are just empty, sweet words meant to lull the electorate into a euphoria to give Barisan Nasional support in the coming general elections, for the history of Barisan Nasional, and previously Alliance, politics, has always been the history of the imposition of UMNO will on the other Barisan Nasional component parties and the people, like the Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act; the Universities and University Colleges Act and especially its provision against private universities like Merdeka University; the ‘One Language, One Culture’ Policy and the ISLAMISATION process promulgated after the 1982 general elections landslide Barisan Nasional victory; the National Cultural Policy, and a host of others.

Last week, the MCA President, Tan Koon Swan said in Johore Bahru that the MCA would not support the extension of the New Economic Policy. Why didn’t Ghaffar Baba respond to this MCA statement, and declare that in view of the public stand of MCA made by Tan Koon Swan, UMNO agrees that the New Economic Policy would not be extended after 1990?

Both Tan Koon Swan and Ghaffar Baba are issuing political blank-cheques and meaningless sweet promises before a general elections.

From the interview of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, with Australia Broadcasting Commission (ABC) two weeks ago, it is clear that the NEP policy of bumiputra quotas and percentages would be extended after 1990, even though a different name may be used.

Dr. Mahathir told the ABC interview that “the government was temporarily suspending its programme to transfer economic wealth to indigenous Malaysians because of poor economic growth”. Dr. Mahathir said the NEP programme to restructure the Malaysian economy would be held “in abeyance, more or less, except in areas where there is growth”.

What Dr. Mahathir said in the ABC interview telecast over ABC a fortnight ago was clear, unambiguous and unmistakable, that the NEP would be put ‘in abeyance’, which must mean its automatic extension after 1990.

Whether the general elections is held in early July, August, September or next year (1987), the government would have to decide on the extension of the NEP (whether using the same or a different name) and implement it before another general elections, which will not fall due until 1991 or 1992.

The coming general elections would in fact be the elections to decide the question of extension of NEP.

Would Ghaffar Baba regard Victory in the coming general elections as a mandate for the extension of the NEP after 1990, in the same way as UMNO leaders had claimed that previous Barisan victories were ‘consent of the people’ to the undemocratic policies like the Internal Security Act, or approval for the corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest in high political places?

I call on Ghaffar Baba to make it explicit and clear as to whether a vote for Barisan Nasional in the coming general elections would be regarded as a vote for the extension of the NEP after 1990.

If Ghaffar Baba is not prepared to declare himself that the UMNO leaders will not use the coming Barisan Nasional election results as a national approval and mandate for extension of NEP after 1990, then every Malaysian who wants to see the NEP ended in 1990 should take it upon himself or herself to campaign in the coming general elections to ensure that the minimal number of votes goes to Barisan Nasional candidates!

This is why the DAP has made the theme of ‘Deny Barisan Nasional Two- Thirds Parliamentary majority’ its main campaign platform in the coming general elections. The denial of Barisan Nasional two-third majority will tantamount to a political revolution in Malaysia, for the ruling coalition had never lost two-third control of Parliament before.

When opening the Gerakan Delegates’ Conference in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday, Ghaffar Baba attacked the DAP’s call for the denial of two-¬third majority to Barisan Nasional in Parliament, accusing the DAP of wanting to weaken the Government.

The problem in Malaysia is not that we have a weak government in Malaysia, but a too-powerful government which had too much power concentrated in its hand to the extent it has become a tyranny of the majority and a threat to democratic rights and freedoms.

The first step to restore meaningful democracy in Malaysia is to cut down the mighty majority of Barisan Nasional in Parliament; to reduce its two-third majority.

I cannot understand Ghaffar Baba’s logic or reasoning, when he said that the Barisan Nasional Government would be weak if its loses two-third majority. In a Parliament of 177 MPs, if the opposition collectively succeeds in denying Barisan Nasional two-third parliamentary majority, the Barisan Nasional would still have a very strong, healthy and powerful majority.

For instance, the Opposition collectively gets 60 MPs, leaving Barisan with 117. The Government will still have majority of 57 – which will be the envy of many Prime Ministers in other countries. Throughout the world, we have seen Prime Ministers and Governments managing very well with very smaller majorities, sometimes less than 10.

Is Ghaffar Baba suggesting that Dr. Mahathir Mohamed or he himself are so lacking in political ability, capability and prowess that they would not be able to govern Malaysia effectively with a parliamentary majority of over 50 MPs? If this is their argument, then let them confess their political incapacities.

In demanding two-third and even fourth-fifth Parliamentary majority, Barisan Nasional leaders are only showing their greed for power. With such an overwhelming majority, the Barisan Nasional government can totally disregard public opinion and public accountability, as in the hosts of scandals in the country today, the BMF scandal, the UMBC scandal, the EPF scandal, the $1 billion mysterious tin-buying scandal, not to mention the Pan E1 Scandal and Multi-Purpose scandal.

Ghaffar Baba said yesterday that he feels ‘sad and ashamed’ that he was once giving a special, rigorous Customs check in a certain country during a recent trip overseas, because Malaysians are suspected of drug-smuggling, Shouldn’t Ghaffar Baba feel equally ‘sad and ashamed’ that Malaysians have an international reputation for scandals involving those in high-political places; and Malaysians being associated with such international scandals like the BMF scandal, as Hong Kong and London are currently staging marathon court hearings on the immoral and dishonest conduct of top officials in Malaysia.