Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Ceramah at Kota Kinabalu Tanjong Aru Beach Hotel on Tuesday, 8.7.1986 at 8 p.m.
Calls on Sabah voters to be guided by the spirit of Tambunan in the coming parliamentary elections to deny Barisan Nasional its two-third majority
The official visit of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, to Sabah yesterday and today marks another victory of the people of Sabah to their democratic right to choose the government, party and candidate of their preference.
When I visited Sabah in May 1985, I had publicly urged the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, to visit Sabah to demonstrate that he is Prime Minister of all states and Malaysians, and heal the rounds of the Sabah political crisis, but for 15 months, he refused to officially visit Sabah which would have meant official recognition to the PBS government and the people’s right to reject his advice and his recommendation on behalf of Berjaya and Datuk Harris Salleh.
Dr.Mahathir did make a flying visit to Sabah in March, but this was after the loss of five lives and the destruction of $10 million worth of property in a rampage of illegal demonstrations, arson, bomb blasts and rioting, resulting in the imposition of a four-month curfew in Kota Kinabalu. Dr.Mahathir had refused to visit Sabah at first, preferring to visit Perak and Selangor to hold illegal public rallies instead of coming to Sabah to assure Sabahans who were in fear of their life and safety of their property.
It was after I had visited Kota Kinabalu and skipped Parliament during the opening debate on the fourth Malaysia Plan that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir felt embarrassed enough to follow suit and visit Sabah himself.
Yesterday, while in Sabah, Dr.Mahathir again argued that the Barisan Nasional needed a two-third parliamentary majority in the next general elections in order to have a strong and stable government.
The difference this time was that he made use of PBS victory in capturing a two-third majority in the May 1986 Sabah State General Elections to justify his argument for two-third parliamentary majority for Barisan National in coming national general elections.
I find Dr.Mahathir’s reasoning most unconvincing, especially as during the Sabah State General Elections over two months ago, it was Dr.Mahathir who said that it would be unhealthy for PBS to singly have an overwhelming two-third majority.
Dr.Mahathir said there is political stability in Sabah new because PBS which won with a two-third majority has an indisputable mandate to rule the state. He added that with PBS’ recent landslide win, nobody could now question its right to administer the State; as had happened in the past.
The Prime Minister’s argument that there was political unrest in Sabah for a year because PBS at the time did not enjoy a two-thirds majority and certain quarters challenged its right to rule alone, cannot allow to go uncontested, this is because it is a spurious argument, without merit or democratic underpinnings.
Firstly, let it be established clearly that the PBS government is now stable, and not in danger of being toppled, not so much because of its two-third majority, but because of the Constitutional amendment preventing ‘frog-jumping’ whereby Assemblymen who wants to defect or he bought over has to resign his seat and cause a by-election to be held.
I have no doubt that if the PBS has two-third majority in Sabah State Assembly, but does not have the Constitutional provision to ban defectors on pain of vacancy of their seat and by-election, the PBS might have lost its two-third majority as a result of the buying and selling of Assemblymen!
If Dr.Mahathir really admires the stability of the PBS Sabah State Government, then is he prepared to demand the Malaysian Constitution then Parliamentary meets next week to similarly require defecting MPs to vacate their seats and seek a new mandate from the electorate?
For over 10 years, the DAP had been pressing for precisely such a law to stop political ‘frog-jumping’, but it was the Barisan Nasional Government which was opposed to such legislation to put an end of political opportunism in Malaysia.
Secondly, any self-respecting Sabahan and Malaysian must be offended by Dr.Mahathir’s speech, for he seemed to give tacit approval for the challenge to the PBS Government for over a year, because it did not have two-thirds majority.
We cannot allow Dr.Mahathir to re-write history or democratic principles. The challenge to the PBS Government of Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan for over a year was an undemocratic, unconstitutional and illegal challenge which should have been condemned by all democrats.
It was not only USNO and Berjaya who challenged the legitimacy of the PBS Government of Datuk Joseph Pairin for over a year, even Dr.Mahathir himself challenged the PBS’ legitimacy of government by refusing to officially visit Sabah for 15 months.
I deplore Dr.Mahathir’s speech yesterday, for he seemed to excuse the campaign of agitation, unrest and violence through illegal demonstrations, bomb blasts, arson and rioting masterminded by certain political leaders in order to topple the elected government of PBS by unconstitutional means.
Is this why the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, is only charging certain political leaders for the inconsequential offence of unlawful assembly’, when they conspired and organised the illegal demonstrations, bomb blasts, arson and rioting?
In Parliamentary in March, I said the political leaders responsible for the conspiracy resulting in the 12-day anarchy and officially sanctioned lawlessness in Sabah in March should be charged and punished for the capital offence of treason, for what they had done fell under Section 121 B of the Penal Code, which provided that “Whoever compasses, imagines, invents or intends….the overawing by means of criminal force or the show of criminal force the Government of Malaysia or of any State, shall be punished with imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine.”
The political leaders responsible for the violence, five deaths and $10 million property destroyed in order to topple the elected State Government should be charged with high treason with the mandatory life sentence, instead of being charged with the minor offence of unlawful assembly, which only attracts a $500 fine of six-month jail.
It is significant that up till now, Dr.Mahathir had not issued a single word of condemnation against the political leaders behind the illegal demonstrations, bomb blasts, arson and rioting.
There is not doubt that if the PBs had been responsible for the illegal demonstrations bomb blasts, arson and rioting as had happened in March, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the entire Cabinet and the PBS Supreme Council would have been arrested under the Internal Security Act and looked up indefinitely!
Now that PBS has joined the Barisan Nasional, it is not possible for the PBS leaders to protest against the Prime Minister for his most insulting and offensive speech which tried to white-wash the crimes of against the people of Sabah and democracy in Malaysia in their political conspiracy of March.
The duty and responsibility of standing up for the rights of the people of Sabah against the arrogance of power, tyranny of majority of the Barisan Nasional Federal Government now falls on the DAP, and we are prepared to shoulder this responsibility.
If the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib, cannot charge the political leaders concerned and their agents for more serious offences for what they did in March in Sabah than that of ‘unlawfull assembly’, negligence and irresponsibility!
In the coming Parliamentary meeting this months, the DAP will censure the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman, for his failure to uphold the rule of law and measured up to the expectations of the people of Sabah.
This gross negligence of the ATTORNEY-General and the Barisan Nasional Government to bring to book the Sabah bombers, arsonists and rioters is because of the mighty parliamentary majority of the Federal government, which made it act with arrogance and in utter contempt of the legitimate rights and aspirations of the common Malaysian.
In fact, the 12-month political crisis in Sabah since the capture of Sabah State power by PBS and Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan in April 1985 must be laid at the door of the insensitive and arrogant Federal Government, which, armed with two-third parliamentary majority, acted as if it did not have to account either to the people or respect the basic principles of democracy.
The people of Sabah had in the past 20 months been in the forefront in the political battle in the defence of the democratic rights of the people of Malaysia. This was why the spirit of Tambunan, first manifested in the Tambunan by-election of December 1984, received such widespread popular support in Malaysia.
The Spirit of Tambunan is the of patriotic and democracy-loving Malaysians whoa re prepared to submit to dictatorship, oppression, injustice and inequality, and who, whatever the price, are prepared to stand up for freedom and democracy, for this is our basic birthright which we must not surrender and condemn our children and children’s children to an age of darkness.
The Spirit of Thambunan blew strong and hard in the April 1985 General Elections, and woth even greater force in the May 1986 General Elections in Sabah.
The Spirit of Tambunan stands for rising up or the people in a democracy through the ballot votes to regain their basic democratic rights and to strike down the arrogance of power and tyranny of majority, including two-third majority, of Harris Salleh and Berjaya.
But the arrogance of the power and tyranny of majority of the Harris Salleh and Berjaya government would not have been possible without the arrogance of power and tyranny of majority of the Barisan Nasional at the Federal level. Again, the open defiance of law, order, the Onstitution and the basic tenets of democracy in the 12-month of PBS rule, and in particular the 12-day of anarchy in March in Sabah, would not have been possible if not for the arrogance of power and tyranny of majority at the national level.
For this reason, the people of Sabah must continue to be guided by the Spirit of Tambanun to fight dictatorial and undemocratic government, oppression, arrogance of power, tyranny of majority in the Malaysian Parliamentary by denying the Barisan Nasional two-third parliamentary majority in the Federal Government.
The struggle for democratic rights in Malaysia is not divisible between Sabah and the rest of Malaysia. Just as the people of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak, supported the people of Sabah in their valiant battle for democracy in Sabah, similarly, the people of Sabah must now join hands with all Malaysians to fight for democracy in Malaysia. This is because if there is no democracy in Malaysia, whatever gains achieved by the people of Sabah in their democratic battles cannot be acure or permanent.
I had originally hoped that the PBS would be able to play a great role in the historic battle in the coming general elections to bring the Barisan Nasional down to earth from their mighty pedestal by denying Barisan Nasional two-third parliamentary majority.
Sabah has 20 Parliamentary seats, and if with PBS support, at least 15 seats go to the Opposition, the Barisan Nasional would have taken a major step to losing denying its two-third parliamentary majority.
However, with the BS’s joining the Barisan Nasional, my hpoes have been dashed. But the people of Sabah can still continue to play their part in denying the Barisan Nasional two-third parliamentary majority.
This is why I hope that the voters of Sabah would vote for the DAP candidates contesting in the various parliamentary constituencies in Sabah.
The denial of parliamentary two-third majority to Barisan Nasional would be the greatest political event in Malaysian history, for it would not only ensure that the Federal Government would be more democratic, accountable, responsible, and shed its authoritarian and dictatorial ways, it would release democratic forces in the country to reinforce the democratic system. We can, for instance, look forward not only to a more meaningful Parliament, which is not just a rubber stamp of the Executive or the Prime Minister, but a more outspoken and responsible Press, more vigilant and active public opinion and public interest organisations, and even a more independent and courageous Judiciary.
I want here to debunk the theme which Dr.Mahathir and Deputy Prime Minister, Baba, have been repeating more and more often: that the Barisan Nasional needs two-third majority to be strong, effective and stable government.
This is one of the biggest political fallacies in Malaysian politics. In fact, we should regard the Barisan Nasional, and its predecessor; Alliance’s two-third, fourth-fifth and at present 90 per cent majority in Parliament, as most unnatural and unhealthy for democracy.
I challenge Dr.Mahathir and Ghaffar Baba to television debates for them to prove that without two-third majority, there can be no strong stable and effective Barisan Nasional Government.
If general elections are held this year, there would be a total of 177 Parliamentary seats. If the Opposition, mainly DAP and PAS, are to deny Barisan Nasional two-third majority, they must collectively get 60 Parliamentary seats. This will still leave the Barisan Nasional with a strong majority of 57 MPs.
If we look at government all over the world, we will find that there are few government or Prime Ministers with such a handsome, strong and comfortable majority. There are governments which govern effectively with wafer-thin majorities of even four, three or less.
Is Dr.Mahathir suggesting that with a 50-seat majority, he cannot have a strong, stable and effective government? Then, he is admitting to being one of the most incompetent Prime Ministers in the world.
The denial of two-third majority to the Barisan Nasional must be the battle cry of every Sabahan and Malaysian to save and preserve democracy, without which, all our other rights stand equally endangered. The people of Sabah, with its Spirit of Tambanun, should continue to play a local role in this great political struggle in Malaysia.