Advice to Gerakan and MCA leaders not to be a stumbling block in the people’s struggle regain their lost rights because they did badly in the 1986 general elections

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the meeting of Tanjong DAP Liaison Committee and Tanjong DAP branch leaders on Sunday, August 17, 1986 at 11 a.m.

Advice to Gerakan and MCA leaders not to be a stumbling block in the people’s struggle regain their lost rights because they did badly in the 1986 general elections

From the statements and speeches of MCA and Gerakan leaders in the past two weeks since their major defeats in the 1986 General Elections on August 3, it would appear that the MCA and Gerakan had not learnt the lessons of the general elections.

Gerakan and MCA leaders are crying about the country that with the DAP’s victory of 24 Parliamentary and 37 State Assembly seats, the UMNO is now very powerful and Chinese’s voice and influence in Government is very weak.

Let me tell the MCA and Gerakan leaders that there is no reason why UMNO should be powerful in Government after the August 3 general elections, for the rejection of the Barisan Nasional candidates is as much rejection of the UMNO and Barisan’s nation-building policies, as it is a rejection of the MCA and Gerakan’s subservient role to the UMNO in agreeing to such policies.

If the UMNO is very ‘powerful’ in Government after August 3, it is because the MCA and Gerakan wanted UMNO to be very ‘powerful’, hoping in this way to ‘punish’ the Malaysian Chinese for their August 3 election results.

I would advise and even warn the MCA and Gerakan leaders that they should not become the stumbling block for the restoration of the lost political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights of the people, in particular the five million Malaysian Chinese, just because the MCA and Gerakan fared badly in the general elections.

The DAP has in fact given the MCA and Gerakan the ;leverage’ to demand policy changes in the Barisan Nasional by making clear to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, that the August 3 rejection of MCA and Gerakan candidates is actually the rejection of the Barisan Nasional National policies.

MCA and Gerakan leaders should make it clear to the UMNO leaders that unless they are prepared to review and reformulate new national policies acceptable to all Malaysians, there is no point in their continuing in the Barisan Nasional. This will be putting into practice the ‘Internal response to external pressure’ which so many Chinese community leaders, including MCA and Gerakan leaders at times, have been talking so much about.

The question is whether the MCA and Gerakan leaders can live up to their greatest challenge in their party’s history, or whether they will support UMNO, and even goad UMNO leaders to embark on policies and measures meant to ‘punish’ the urban voters, in particular the Malaysians Chinese, for exercising their democratic right on August 3 to make clear their vision of a Malaysian future.

Gerakan leaders are going round penang lamenting that the Chinese in Penang have never been so divided, while the Malays are so united under UMNO. In actual fact, the Chinese have never been so united as in the 1986 general elections in making clear their rejection of Barisan Nasional nation building policies.

The problem is not with the Chinese voters, but with Barisan Nasional Chinese leaders who do not want to recognise the unity and singleness of purpose of the Chinese electorate unless they voted for Gerakan or MCA.

I call on the Gerakan and MCA leaders to rise above narrow party considerations, and put the interest of the Chinese community, people and country above that of their respective parties.

As the people, and in particular the Malaysians Chinese have spoken so loudly and clearly their demand for Barisan Nasional policy changes, MCA and Gerakan leaders, if they respect the people’s verdict, should themselves take up this call in Cabinet, and not act against the mainstream aspiration of the Chinese community as clearly expressed in the August 3 election result.

Some MCA and Gerakan had admitted in the press that the August 3 election result is a vote against Barisan Nasional policies, but Dr. Mahathir does not read the Chinese newspapers, and the place for MCA and Gerakan to make this point is in Cabinet and Parliament by their Ministers and Mps.

If MCA and Gerakan leaders could grasp this great opportunity of their general election defeat to impress on Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed the urgency and importance of respecting the people’s cry for policy changes, then they would have at last played an important political role for the Malaysians Chinese. If they chose to be the stumbling block of the people’s verdict on August 3, by aiding, abetting and even goading UMNO not to review and reformulate policies, then they will become the ‘criminals of the race’.