DAP welcome Dr. Mahathir’s acknowledgement that Opposition could play a vital role in Malaysia and proposes constructive co-operation with Barisan Nasional Government to solve the grave national problem

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, after a courtesy call on Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu at KOMTAR on Monday, 18.8.1986

DAP welcome Dr. Mahathir’s acknowledgement that Opposition could play a vital role in Malaysia and proposes constructive co-operation with Barisan Nasional Government to solve the grave national problem

I welcome the acknowledgement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in Alor Star yesterday that the Opposition can play a vital role in Malaysia.

Two days ago, I had publicly offered the DAP’s hand of co-operation to Dr. Mahathir and Barisan Nasional Government to help solve the grave national problems like racial polarisation, crisis of confidence and nation-building.

The DAP proposes constructive co-operation with the Barisan Nasional Government to solve the grave national problems in the country. A parliamentary democracy could only work if the Government and the Opposition respect each other’s right and legitimacy to represent the people and work together within Parliament and the framework of system for the betterment of the people and nation.

A general election is an occasion for the people to express their political hopes and aspirations, and for the political system to take heed of the people’s views.

The 55% electorate who voted for the Barisan Nasional giving it l48 out of l77 parliamentary seats must be respected, but the 45% of the electorate who did not vote for the Barisan Nasional should also have their views respected, and taken into account in the government decision-making.

Parliamentary democracy can only function if there is mutual respect between the Government and the Opposition, and their preparedness, without compromising their political principles, to work together for the nation’s good.

For instance, the government and the opposition should work together to restore Parliament’s role as the highest political chamber in the country, which captures the excitement and imagination of the people where important decisions affecting the future of the nation are debated and made.

Again, the government and the Opposition should be able to work together to discuss how the grave problem of racial polarisation, crisis of confidence and nation building could be resolved by first seeking out common areas of agreement, while trying to resolve the area of differences.

This is why the DAP believes that apart from the parliamentary and state assembly proceedings, there should be constant dialogues between the Government and the Opposition. It is for this reason that I had immediately after the August 3 general elections made public my intention to meet the Prime Minister, my office had contacted the Prime Minister’s Office for such an appointment, and I am waiting for word about the appointment with the Prime Minister.

Dr. Mahathir is wrong when he said that the DAP had been opposing all government policies for the sake of opposition.

After the 1982 general elections, the DAP supported the government’s campaign to have a ‘Clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ administration and ‘Leadership by Example’ slogan.

We cannot agree them when the government has fallen short of its own slogan of ‘clean, Efficient and Trustworthy’ administration.

The DAP supported the two objectives of the New Ekonomic Policy to eliminate poverty regardless of race and to restructure the Malaysian society to multi-racialise the society, but we cannot agree the NEP was used to further divided Malaysians through greater injustices and inequalities.

As the DAP is committed to the parliamentary democratic process, this means that we believe that the battle for the hearts and minds of the people must be through the process of arguments and persuasion, rather than the process of confrontation, violence or revolution.

This is why we are prepared to meet and argue with Barisan Nasional leaders not only in Parliament and the State Assemblies, but in other direct meeting as well.

The DAP is at present represented in seven State Assemblies, and I have instructed all DAP Assemblymen in all these states to establish working relationships with the respective Menteri Besar or Chief Minister, so that parliamentary democracy can work more effectively.

The 24 DAP Mps will be assigned specific areas or Ministries for them to specialise in, and DAP Mps assigned to deal with responsibilities covered by certain specific Ministries would be encouraged to establish working relationships with the Minister and Ministries concerned.

In Penang, at the second meeting of the ten Penang Assemblymen yesterday, we have assigned specific areas of responsibilities to eight DAP assemblymen, expect for myself and Deputy Penang Opposition Leader, Sdr. Karpal Singh.

The allocation of responsibilities are as follows:

God Hock Seng (Ayer Itam) – Local Government & New Villages
Teoh Teik Huat (Pengkalan Kota) – Housing and General services
Chian Heng Kai (Berapit) – Religion, welfare, education
N. Shanmugam (Prai) – Manpower
Tan Loo Jit (Batu Lancang) – Tourism, Culture, Youth, Sports
Peter Huang (Kebun Bunga) – Land and Rural Development
Chin Kooi Thoon (Jawi) – Agriculture
Lim Hock Seng (Bagan Jermal) – Works

Apart fromm the appointment of Sdr. Gooi Hock Seng as Penang Opposition whip in the Assembly, Sdr. Teoh Teik Huat is also appointed Deputy Opposition Whip, with special responsibilities to organise discussions, seminars and conferences for DAP Mps and Assemblymen in Penang.