by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Gopeng on Tuesday, 12.5.1987:
MCA is trying to provoke incidents in Gopeng by-election because the key-plank of its by-election strategy, Mr. Clean, has collapsed in three short days
I deplore the attempts by the MCA to provoke incidents in the Gopeng by-election, and I am calling on all DAP leaders, members and supporters to restrain themselves for the rest of the campaign despite the greatest provocation.
Everybody knows that incidents are provoked by those who are afraid of losing. The DAP is not afraid to lose in Gopeng, for even before Nomination, I had rated the DAP’s chances as 45:55. We know that it is not going to be easy to wrest the ‘safe seat’ of MCA in a matter of nine months after the 1986 general elections.
But I can sense the panic in the MCA leadership at the way the Gopeng by-election is going. Before the Nomination, MCA Ministers and leaders competed with each other to declare that they are absolutely confident of winning Gopeng, and that there is no possibility whatsoever of their losing in Gopeng.
MCA leaders are now having second thoughts as to whether they can win Gopeng, for their whole election strategy, in particular their Mr. Clean platform, had collapsed in a matter of three short days!
At the start of the by-election campaign, the MCA decided that their best by-election strategy is to present their candidate, Dr. Ting Chew Poh, as Mr. Clean, someone the MCA searched far and wide throughout the country and only succeeded in finding with the greatest odds and challenges. From the MCA campaign, it would appear that if not for Dr. Ting Chew Poh, MCA would have no candidate which they could field whom they could call ‘Mr. Clean’. In this context, Dr. Ting is the ‘savior’ of the reputation and integrity of the MCA.
But the MCA leaders and election strategists fail to realise that by this Mr. Clean strategy, they are making three admissions:
1. That the MCA had been ridden with corruption and scandals which is the disgrace of the Chinese community and nation. In terms of the number of political leaders convicted or charged for corruption and breach of trust, the MCA ranks as the most corrupt political party in Malaysia. I challenge Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lee Kim Sai to a public debate in Gopeng before polling if they dare to dispute my statement that MCA is the most corrupt political party in Malaysia!
2. That the present MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and MPs lack the public reputation of Mr. Clean, and they therefore need someone like Dr. ting Chew Poh to provide them with the Mr. Clean image and association.
3. Casting serious aspersions that the other aspiring MCA candidates, like Tan Tiew Bok or Ban Han Keong, are not suitable because they could not be presented as ‘Mr. Clean’ in the by-election campaign.
The MCA by-election strategy of ‘Mr. Clean would have been justifiable by itself if it could be sustained and succeed in convincing the voters and the public. But the ‘Mr. Clean’ campaign of Dr. Ting Chew Poh is not even a ‘nine-day wonder’, having totally collapsed in three short days. This must make it a record in elections history where the key-plank of an entire election strategy collapsed in three short days.
The MCA cannot now claim that their candidate is Mr. Clean as Dr. Ting has failed to justify his 1984 stand on Bukit China, which went against the aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese community. Even more important, Dr. Ting has refused to account to the people of Gopeng an vital issue which touches on whether he has the character and leadership qualities to be an MP.
Now that the MCA’s ‘Mr. Clean’ has boomeranged and flopped completely, it is understandable that the MCA leaders and election strategists are beginning to panic, for there is now perceivable a turning of the election tide in the DAP’s favour.
As a result, the MCA will be tempted to provoke incidents to mar the Gopeng by-election. I call on the MCA and Barisan Nasional leaders to join the DAP leaders to exercising restraint in the Gopeng by-election, and to ensure that there would no more unfortunate incidents.
Although things are looking up and bright for the DAP, in a by-election where we started on a 45:55 basis, DAP election workers must work trebly hard in the next four days if the DAP is to make it on polling day. Now that the odds have been evened out at 50:50, the outcome will depend on the final leg of the campaign.