by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 1.2.1990:
An Open Letter to Election Commission Chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Talib, and Members of Election Commission to resist unconstitutional attempts by UMNO Baru leaders who want to manipulate and tamper with the election machinery, mechanism and regulations
I am today issuing an Open Letter to the Chairman of the Election Commission, Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Talib, the Deputy Chairman, Encik Lee Kok Cheng, and Election Commission members, Encik Samuel A. Abishegam and Abang Roseli bin Abang Hj. Paleng, urging them to safeguard and assert their Constitutional independence and not to bow to the dictates of UMNO Baru leaders, who want to manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations.
This is my Open Letter to Tan Sri Abdul Kadir, Encik Lee, Encik Samuel A.Abishegam and Abang Roseli:
Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Talib,
Encik Lee Kok Cheng,
Encik Samuel A.Abishegam,
Abang Roseli bin Abang Hj.Paleng,
Dear Tan Sri, Encik Lee, Encik Samuel and Abang Roseli.
I have strong reasons to believe that the Barisan Nasional Government, worried about its prospects in the next general elections, in particular about its ability to win a two-thirds parliamentary majority, has decided to manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations.
Up to the 1986 general elections, opposition parties and public interest organizations concerned about human rights and democratic freedoms of Malaysians had been most unhappy with the lopsided elections machinery, mechanism and regulations in Malaysia which gave the Barisan Nasional ruling parties unfair and undemocratic advantages. However, these gerrymandering with the electoral constituencies and the lop-sided electoral machinery and laws in Malaysia had not reached the scandalous stage of electoral fraud as has happened in some countries which purport to conduct general elections.
Although last year saw the end of the 41-year armed struggle of the Communist Party of Malaya with the signing of the Peace Agreement in Haadyai, it has not brought greater democracy, freedom and human rights to Malaysians. In actual fact, in the past three years, Malaysians suffered the most serious and systematic erosion of their human rights in the whole history of Malaysian nationhood with the most draconian amendments to the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Police Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
People should take power back into their hands
The general elections should be held in the year of the Horse. This is the golden opportunity for the Malaysian Chinese, together with other Malaysians, to take power back into their hands to declare loud and clear that they have enough of the financial and moral scandals and misgovernment of the Barisan Nasional and Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.
The Chinese in Malaysia can make political history by breaking the Pendulum Theory in the next general elections, and usher in an era of great changes in the decades of the 1990s, by rejecting the Barisan Nasional.
MCA is a party concerned with marginal politics, having given up the basic rights of the Chinese in Malaysia
A political scholar has rightly analysed the MCA as a political party which is involved with marginal politics, having given up the basic rights of the Malaysian Chinese which it claims to represent. The MCA is not only concerned with marginal politics, it has become a marginal political party as well, with their leaders primarily concerned with hanging on to the perks of office.
This is the only explanation for the scandal of the eight Selangor MCA State Assemblymen and the even bigger political scandal of the Selangor Islamic Law Administration Enactment, which remains unresolved.
This is why a solemn promise made in the 1986 general elections that the government would repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act had remained a dead letter-just like the 16-year old promise in the 1974 general elections that the 200,000 stateless red-identity card holders of Chinese descent would be granted Malaysian citizenship remains broken and forgotten.
Let the Chinese in Malaysia decide that beginning with the Year of the Horse, they are not content with marginal politics of a marginal political party like the MCA. They must return from the margin to the centre of the political arena, to restore their mainstream political and citizenship rights.
It is precisely because Malaysian Chinese regards themselves to have become marginal Malaysians, that there is such a grave problem of emigration to other countries in the past few years.
Malaysian Chinese do not want to be Marginal Malaysians, but full-blooded Malaysians whose mainstream political, economic, educational, cultural, religious and citizenship rights are fully honoured and respected. Let this be the resolution of all Malaysian Chinese in the Year of the Horse.
If what the Barisan Nasional government presently has in mind to manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations are allowed to succeed, then Malaysia will not be very different from those countries whose elections machinery and laws are the scandal of parliamentary democracies, and Malaysia’s general elections will not be very different from the general elections conducted in the Philippines during Marcos’ martial law.
Why the snap 21-day voters’ registration exercise next month?
The Election Commission, for instance, had been directed to conduct a new snap voters’ registration exercise in a month’s time although the Election Commission had not completed work on the previous voters’ registration exercise in 1989. I understand that the Election Commission has sent out instructions to all state election officials about the snap voters’ registration exercise in early March.
It is most shocking, unimaginable and scandalous that when the Election Commission has not been able to complete the preparation of the 1989 Voters’ Electoral Register for 1989, it should now be in the thick of preparing for a snap 21-day voters’ registration exercise beginning in early March.
What is even more shocking, unimaginable and scandalous is that the UMNO Baru and government have intended that in the snap 21-day voters’ registration exercise, opposition parties should be shut out of the voter’s registration exercise completely, and only proxies of UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional in the guise of personnel of Kemas and other government bodies would be allowed to register voters. This is to enable the UMNO Baru to pad the voters’ register with UMNO Baru-inclined voters.
The Barisan Nasional government should not have interfered with the independence of the Elections Commission to decide when and how to conduct voters’ registration, as this is enshrined in the Constitution.
On reflection, it is now no wonder that after UMNO Supreme Council’s meeting in mid-January, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, should be talking about the subject of voters’ registration, and that the UMNO Baru has directed its nation-wide machinery to get ready for the snap voters’ registration in a month’s time.
The snap voters’ registration is not the only item that UMNO Baru and the Barisan National government have in mind to manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations to ensure that they could defy the popular will of the people in the next general elections and remain in power with overwhelming two-third or four-fifth parliamentary majority.
Never before in the history of Malaysian parliamentary elections has the legitimacy of the electoral process under greater threat, then as at present.
As Chairman, Deputy Chairman and Members of the Election Commission, you should be mindful that under the Constitution, the Election Commission is an independent body which should not bow to the dictates of the ruling parties of the government of the day.
Just because UMNO Baru wants to have another voters’ registration exercise to pad the Voters’ List with its people and have an opportunity to manipulate and tamper with the electoral make-up in the various parliamentary and state constituencies before the next general elections is no reason why the Election Commission should be at the beck and call of UMNO Baru or the Government.
The image and integrity of the Election Commission as an independent body provided by the Constitution to conduct elections, including all aspects of the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations, would be irreparably damaged if the Election Commission had to rush to conduct a new snap voters’ registration in March under the orders of the UMNO Baru.
I urge you to regard all attempts by UMNO Baru and the Government to interfere, manipulate and tamper with the elections machinery, mechanism and regulations as unconstitutional and a subversion of the constitutional and democratic process. Your allegiance is to the Constitution and not to UMNO Baru or the Government of the day, and it is your duty to defend the independence of the Election Commission as enshrined in the Constitution, even if it means resisting unconstitutional attempts by presently powerful people to interfere with the independence of the Election Commission.