Call on all Malaysians to prepare for the Battle of Tanjung 2 to determine Malaysia in the 1990s by ensuring that every eligible Malaysian is a registered voter in the next six weeks

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the launching of the DAP’s Nation-wide Poster Campaign for the Voters Registration Campaign on the Theme: “Vote Tanjung 2 1990 – Register as a Voter Now” at the Penang DAP premises, Kinta Lane, Penang on Friday, 19.6.1987 at 11 am

Call on all Malaysians to prepare for the Battle of Tanjung 2 to determine Malaysia in the 1990s by ensuring that every eligible Malaysian is a registered voter in the next six weeks

In another 30 months, Malaysia will enter into a watershed year, the year of 1990. for some two decade, Malaysians have been made to be very concerned, worried or fear the approach of the year 1990.

In 1970, when the Government announced the New Economic Policy, with its policy of percentages and quotas, the people were told that it was for 20 years till 1990 in order to achieve the overriding goal of national unity. Malaysians were told that they have to bear with new injustices and inequalities, so that old injustices and inequalities could be rectified – but that after 20 years, by 1990, everyone could look forward to a new Malaysian order where there would be equality, justice, freedom and democracy!

But voices had been heard in the past few years that the end of NEP in 1990 is only a ‘mirage’, that the NEP, even if it is under another new name, would be extended indefinitely into the 21st Century – that the NEP injustices and inequalities are to become an permanent feature of Malaysian life!

This is what has brought about the acute concern, worry and even fear as to what Malaysia of the 1990s and the 21st century is going to be like.

But who should decide what Malaysia should be like in the 1990s and the 21st century? Is it the Barisan Nasional, which eventually means the UMNO leadership? Or the ordinary Malaysian citizens?

The DAP believes strongly that the decision effecting Malaysia in the 1990s and the 21st century, must be taken away from the exclusive hands of the UMNO leadership, and returned to the ordinary Malaysians, that on a matter so vital and far-reaching about the political, economic, cultural and national future of Malaysia, the hopes and aspirations of the multi-racial Malaysian people must be taken into full account.

This is done by the people fully participating in the country’s political process, especially during the general elections. This is why the next general elections is so crucial and vital for them next two or three decades. For it will decide not just the government for another five years, but Malaysia in the 1990s and the 21st century!

The DAP, in anticipation of this important political moment in the history of Malaysia, turned the 1986 General Elections into a Battle Tanjung I, for the next general elections, which we describe as the Battle of Tanjung II, is going to be very much more important in deciding Malaysia for the 1990s and the 21st Century.

We have found to our dismay, however, that many Malaysians simply have forfeited the political right to shape Malaysia’s future and destiny, either sheer forgetfulness, ignorance or apathy, by not registering themselves as voters. As a result, we have come across large numbers of Malaysians who express their support for the DAP during general elections, but who could not perform their most precious right as a citizen, i.e to cast their vote on polling day.

The Barisan Nasional parties, and in particular the MCA and Gerakan, are not very concerned that there is a large umber of eligible Malaysians who have forfeited their political rights by not registering as voters. Both MCA and Gerakan have a common reason – for they depend on UMNO to win both parliamentary and state assembly seats and are not too keen that non-Malay voters in the urban seats have optimum registration!

The redelineation of parliamentary and state assembly constituencies have already resulted in a great disparity in the distribution of political power in Malaysia, and this is further compounded by the large number of eligible Malaysians who do not register themselves as voters.

Societies, association and civic organizations which are concerned about political rights and equality should themselves conduct a high-powered campaign to get every eligible Malaysian to register as a voter.

The present Parliament may serve its shortest tem in Malaysian history, for general elections may be held in 1989 – a year before the UMNO General Assembly in 1990 so that Dr. Mahathir Mohamed could position his people in the Parliament and the State Assemblies in anticipation of another party battle with Tengku Razaleigh and Datuk Musa Hitam.

If this happen, then there will only be two voters’ registration exercise, 42 days for this year form June 16 to July 27, and another 42 days next year.

The DAP has decide to launch a national poster campaign in four languages to urge the people to register as voters, and to underline the importance of doing so. The poster’s theme is “Vote Tanjung 2 1990 – Register as a Voter Now”.

I hope citizens groups could be formed to ensure that every eligible voter in their area has registered on the electoral roll, so as to participate in deciding Malaysia’s future in the 1990s and the 21st Century, and to ensure that the Battle of Tanjung 2 in the next general elections will provide a new political milestone for the people of Penang and Malaysia.