Gopeng by-election a prelude to the next general elections which may be held within 50 months

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Gopeng DAP by-election committee meeting at Ipoh on Saturday, 2.5.1987 at 6 pm

Gopeng by-election a prelude to the next general elections which may be held within 50 months

The latest political developments in the country, and in particular the turmoil in UMNO with the recent challenge to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as UMNO President, the sacking and removal of five UMNO Ministers and four deputy Ministers, has created a new political scenario whereby general elections could be held as early as within 50 months.

I am not surprised if for the first time in Malaysian history, general elections are held before the present Parliament has completed three full years.

After the 1987 UMNO General Assembly, the various UMNO leaders will now be actively preparing for the 1990 General Assembly, especially after the massacre of UMNO Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Razaleigh-Musa faction. Dr. Mahathir will be tempted to have general elections about a year earlier so that he could be very certain of MPs, Ministers, State Assemblymen and State Executive Councillors.

In this light, Gopeng is not so much the first by-election in Peninsular Malaysia after the 1986 general elections, as a prelude to a possible general elections within 50 months.

Gopeng by-election will therefore be a test whether the DAP can make further headway to get popular support. In perak, in the last general elections, we won four Parliamentary seats which fell short of our expectations. The Gopeng by-election will be an excellent opportunity to continue our political campaign and message to the people that for equality and justice, with government treating all Malaysian citizens fairly without discrimination, is a long-term political struggle.

Gopeng is an opportunity for the DAP to ask the people of Gopeng to join in this ‘Long March’ for political equality, economic justice, cultural freedom and democratic rights, so that the 1990s will not become as nightmarish as the 1970s and 1980s where we see an unrelenting erosion of our basic rights.

The MCA has started a malicious and vicious campaign in their run-up to the Gopeng by-election. They are going to use smears, half-truths and downright lies to try to mislead the voters in Gopeng.

They will appeal for pity and sympathy from the people of Gopeng, and resort to all sorts of emotional tricks.

But whatever tricks the MCA use in the Gopeng by-election will never be able to hide the fact that the so-called Reformed MCA leadership which toppled Neo Yee Pan had brought the Chinese community to the lowest ebbs in its honour, dignity and self-respect.

In the Cabinet, the MCA Ministers dare not speak up on issues which are perceived as UMNO questions, like the BMF scandal, Maminco scandal, UMBC scandal, EPF scandal. But on issues which concern the Chinese community, and on which the MCA Ministers should be heard and respected, MCA Ministers also dare not speak up and insist that they should have the biggest say in their decision.

The $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance scandal is the best example. On this issue, the MCA Ministers behave in Cabinet as if the issue concern only UMNO leaders and members, forgetting that it concern the greatest financial catastrophe of the Chinese community in Malaysian history. Now, because of the Gopeng by-election, MCA Ministers are proclaiming that they are finding a solution – when the Cabinet had already decided on the solution, the DAP will not let MCA run away from the real issues in the Gopeng by-election.