Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblymen for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the thanks giving party for Penang Island DAP election workers at Kelad Ilham, Mac Alister Road, on Saturday, August 16, 1986 at 9p.m.
Although UMNO has outnumbered Gerakan and MCA in the Penang State Exco, DAP assures Dr. Lim Chong Eu of DAP support in the policies and measures in the interest of majority of Penang people
With the full public support by DAP, Dr. Lim Chong Eu has been re-appointed as Penang Chief Minister. The DAP is disappointed however, by the imbalance in the State Exco where UMNO had five of the eight Exco seats, two to Gerakan and one to MCA.
The Penang State Exco violates the New Economic Policy spirit of restructuring society to climate the identification of any function with any one particular race, so as to reflect Malaysia’s multi-racial composition.
By this principle, the Penang State Exco should reflect the racial composition of the Penang electorate, which is 34% Malays, 57% Chinese and 9% Indians. To fully reflect Penang’s multi-racial composition, UMNO should have only 3 Exco Members, there should be one Indian Exco Members, and the rest Chinese Exco members from Gerakan or MCA.
Unfortunately, although Gerakan claims to be a multi-racial party, it did not put up a single Indians candidate, either for Parliamentary or State Assembly elections. Gerakan leaders probably believes that there is no Indian leader in Gerekan who is fit or qualified to be a Member of Parliament or Assemblyman, let alone a Executive Councillor in Penang. With the defeat of the MIC candidate in Prai, Datuk Subbiah, by DAP’s Shanmugam, Gerakan must bear full responsibility for the absence of any Indian Exco or even Assemblyman on the government side.
In giving full support to Dr. Lim Chong Eu to continue as the Penang Chief Minister, I had hoped that the Gerakan would take a firm stand to oppose any attempt by UMNO to increase its State Executive numbers. In the previous State Government, it had four out of eight Exco members which, as I had said, is already excessive.
The DAP Central Executive Committee decided that the party would give Dr. Lim Chong Eu full support to be appointed as Penang Chief Minister, even if Gerakan had to consider leaving Barisan Nasional over any unreasonable UMNO demand.
With this unconditional DAP backing, Dr. Lim could have stood up to UMNO’s pressures and insisted that at most, UMNO could have its status quo, namely four State Exco members.
Be that as it may, although UMNO now outnumbers Gerakan and MCA in the State Executive Council and State Assembly of Penang. I sure Dr. Lim Chong Eu that the DAP is prepared to give him full support in policies and measures in the interests of the majority of the Penang people. The DAP will be guided by what is in the interest of the Penang people, and we will not hesitate to back him up if he faces further unreasonable demands from the five UMNO Executive Councillors.
The Penang Chief Ministership issue as well as the question of the five UMNO Penang State Exco Members should bring to the forefront of public consciousness the grave problem of the inequality and injustice of our political system.
Thus UMNO, with 66,746 votes could win 12 state assembly seats while the DAP with about three times the number with 147,641 could win only 10 assembly seats.
Ever since Merdeka, the political rights of the non-Malays, and in particular the Malaysian Chinese, have been relentlessly eroded away with each red lineation of the electoral constituencies, Gerakan and MCA must bear full responsibility for this continuous erosion of the Malaysian Chinese, whom they claim to represent, for if they had the courage to oppose the red lineation of constituencies, such erosion would not have taken place.
Deputy Prime Minister Ghaffar Baba had said that the Barisan Nasional Cabinet operates by way of consensus, and if there is a single Minister who speaks up to oppose any government law or proposal, such law or proposal would not be carried through.
The question Gerakan and MCA leaders must explain is why no single Minister from both parties dared to speak up in the Cabinet to oppose the 1974 and 1984 red lineation of the parliamentary and state assembly constituencies?
The Penang Chinese Town Hall President, Choo Chin Koon, the Penang Chinese Town Hall Youth Leader, Dr. Kang Eng Seng, had issued statements about their concern about the Penang Chief Ministership, but they are oblivious of the fact that it is the Gerakan and MCA which had sowed the seeds of the Penang Chief Minister crisis and the five UMNO State Exco issue by their support of the 1974 and 1984 red lineation of the electoral constituencies, which give the most undemocratic and unfair weight age to Rural Malay voters, whether in Penang or elsewhere.
The people of Penang and Malaysia should not be happy and contented that Dr. Lim Chong Eu remained as Penang CM, but should use this awareness to demand a ratification of the imbalance of the political power
I do not think that the people, and in particular the Malaysian Chinese whether in Penang or Malaysia, have anything to be happy or contented that with DAP’s support, Dr. Lim Chong Eu has been re-appointed Penang Chief Minister.
We should use the political awareness about the disparity and inequality of distribution of political power in Malaysia generated by the Penang Chief Ministership top demand a nation-wide rectification of the imbalances in the political power in Malaysia.
For this larger national interest, the DAP is prepared to sit down with the MCA and Gerakan leaders to discuss how the relentless erosion of the political rights of the non-Malays, and in particular the Malaysian Chinese, could be halted, and followed by a restructuring of the distribution of political power in Malaysia to ensure that they better reflect the multi-racial population, both at national and state levels.
Racial polarization in Malaysia is caused by the deep sense of grievance of major racial groups in Malaysia who feel that they are not allowed to share fully in the rights and responsibilities of developing Malaysia, whether politically, economically, educationally, culturally.
So long as half of the Malaysian population feel that they over the years, their political rights, which are already placed in a most unfair position, are subject to further erosion, racial polarization can only become worse.
The 1986 general elections results should be the best occasion for all political leaders from all parties to courageously grapple with the various political, economic, educational, cultural and religious dimensions of the problem of racial polarization. The 1986 general elections did not create the problem of racial polarization, but highlight how serious it has become after 29 years of Malaysian nationhood.
Let us not sweep this grave problem of racial polarization under the carpet, but as responsible Malaysian leaders responsible for the future of the country and people, pool our resources and ingenuity to solve this single most serious problem of Malaysia.