Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, issued in Petaling Jaya on 21st April 1987.
Invitation to Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik to list the grounds for the DAP to consider as to why the MCA should be given a walkover in the Gopeng by-election.
MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, yesterday asked the DAP to give the MCA a walkover in Gopeng as I had said in Penang on Saturday that the Gopeng by-election would not be easy for the DAP, rating our chances as 45:55.
I am not surprised by Datuk Dr. Ling’s begging for the Gopeng parliamentary seat for it has become customary and second nature for MCA leaders to beg for favours from others, rather than standing up for their won honour, principles and convictions.
In the 1986 general elections, MCA begged for “a safe seat” for its President, Tan Koon Swan, in Johore, but when this was not successful, the MCA begged for a seat in Perak and as a result got the Gopeng “safe seat” for Tan Koon Swan. I am sure Datuk Dr. Ling would not deny that the Gopeng seat was originally earmarked for UMNO, in fact for the political secretary to the Prime Minister, until I was given to MCA as a result of its begging.
Even Datuk Dr. Ling himself begged and got a safe seat in Lapis, Johore, knowing that if he had stayed behind in the Bagan Parliamentary seat, he would have been defeated.
This in fact shows one big difference between the DAP and MCA leaders; DAP leaders do not go for the safest and easiest seat but are prepared to go for the difficult one. When I stood for the Tanjong Parliamentary seat in the last Parliamentary elections, Datuk Dr. Ling said I had made a great political blunder, and would lose in Tanjong.
Although my chances in Tanjong was only 50:50, I was prepared to leavethe safe seat on Kota Melaka to take the chance – unlike Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Tan Koon swan who, though claiming to be leaders of the Malaysian Chinese, ran away from Chinese majority constituencies to areas with the highest possible Malay votes percentage. Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, for instance, abandoned Bagan which had 62.5% Chinese voters for Labis in Johore where the Chinese voters represent only 46%. In fact, in the last elections, the three top MCA leaders seemed to have competed among themselves in constituencies with the lowest possible Chinese electorate – Tan Koon Swan in Gopeng, and Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik in Labis, there the Chinese electorate is about 46%, with Dauk Dr. Lee Kim Sai in Ulu Langat with 42% Chinese electorate.
Just as the Tanjong battle with its 50:50 chances and not frighten me, similarly the forthcoming Gopeng by-election which I had rated as 45:55 fir the DAP, would not scare the DAP. In fact, it would spur the DAP to greater efforts to meet the challenge, to turn the MCA safe seat into an unsafe seat in a matter of nine months.
However, since Datuk Dr. Ling had the courage to ask the DAP to five the MCA a walkover in Gopeng, the DAP is prepared to give his request serious consideration provided the MCA could give convincing grounds which would justify my recommending the DAP Central Executive Committee for a Gopeng walkover for the MCA.
Last week, in response to a challenge from Datuk Lee Kim Sai, I had counter-challenged him to attend a public meeting of co-operative depositors at the Wisma Chin Woo in Ipoh on Saturday, 25th April, for him to convince the DAP why the 588,000 co-operative depositors should be discriminated against and treated as second class citizens, as the government has refused to extend the BMF-Bank Bumiputra type of 100% rescue plan to the 23 co-operatives.
I hereby also invite Datuk Dr. Ling to attend this Ipoh meeting on Saturday to explain why the DAP should give the mc aa walkover in Gopeng. At this meeting, I will also spell out the political, economic, educational and cultural grounds on which the DAP will be prepared to consider giving the MCA a walkover in Gopeng.
I hope Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Lee Kim Sai and other MCA Ministers and leaders would have the courage to attend the Ipoh meeting of co-operative depositors on Saturday to show they are not political “beggars” but men of honour, principles and convictions.