Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at Joint DAP-Semangat 46 Ceramah held in Kuala Lumput at the Chinese Assembly Hall on Thursday, 1.3. 1990 at 9 pm
DAP warns that Barisan Nasional would try to rig the next general elections to stay on to power
There are growing disturbing signs that to stay in power, the Mahathir government will try to rig the next general elections.
This is why the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir, is so uncharacteristically angry with the formation of the six-man Election Watch, headed by Tun Suffian, with the denunciation that the group “always discredited the government, smeared the country over-seas and ensured that foreign investors did not come to Malaysian allegedly because the government was unfair and the judicial system was not good.
Dr. Mahathir accused the group of not being neutral but anti-government. Does Dr. Mahathir mean that the group would only be neutral, if it is pro-government?
The Election Watch, if it is to carry out its own stated objectives of protecting the integrity and honesty of the electoral process and the independence of the Election Commission should be neither pro-government nor anti-government. It should act objectively on the facts of each case.
There is no reason for Dr. Mahathir to be so angry about the formation of the Election Watch, if the Prime Minister fully supports a clean, honest and fair electoral system, which can bear national as well as international scrutiny. In fact, if the electoral system in clean, honest, fair and free, and this could be vouched for by the Election Watch, then the Prime Minister’s international standing would be further enhanced.
There would only be anger at the formation of Election Watch if the Barisan Nasional government is in fact planning to rig the next general elections to stay in power by all means fair and foul for such electoral frauds and rigging would be subject to national and international scrutiny.
As it is, there is already nation-wide concern at the way the Election Commission had been directed to conduct the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise, primarily to register the 300,000 UMNO Baru members who had not registered themselves as voters, without consulting or informing opposition parties while UMNO Baru had been preparing their members for this execise for the last two months.
Id the Election Commission is not prepared to consult the opposition political parties, taking directives only from UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government, how can the Election Commission enjoy public confidence that it will conduct a fair, free clean and honest general elections?
Admission by Election Commission Secretary that the Commission is not independent, but part of Barisan Nasional Government
In this connection, it is most regrettable that the Secretary of the Election Commission, Haji Rashid Abdul Rahman, made a most emotional and hysterical attack on the Election Watch, alleging that the group comprising Tun Suffian, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, Raja Aziz Addrusse, Dato’ Param Cumsraswamy, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and Encik Chooi Mun Sou contained people who are already opposed to the Government.
Haji Rashid’s statement is in fact a shocking admission that the Election Commission regards itself as part of the Barisan Nasional Government, and that those who criticise the government are ipso facto critics of the Election Commission.
The Constitution never intended the Election Commission to be part of the Government, but to be a separate and independent institution with its own constitutional duties to conduct free and fair general elections.
When the Election Commission sees itself as part of government, then clearly it cannot be independent and has violated its Constitutional duties and responsibilities.
The Election Commission, to be independent, must be one which could carry out the electoral process in anhonest and fair manner to both the Government and the Opposition, including government critics. Crititics of the Government have no interest in criticising the Election Commission, if the Commission adheres to its constitutional stipulation to be freee from interference or directive from any political party, whether ruling or opposition.
Call on Dr. Mahathir to honour the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique to strengthen the democratic and electoral processes in Malaysia by even inviting an international observer team to scrutinize the Malaysian electoral process
Dr. Mahathir should not forget that when he chaired the CHOGM meeting in Kuala Lumpur last October, the Communique of the Commonwealth Heads of Government issued at the end of the meeting on October 24 called on member countries to strengthen their democratic and electoral processes.
In fact, Dr. Mahathir was appointed to head a high-level group of Commonwealth leaders to identify possible future roles for the Commonwealth, one of which was to send observer mission for general elections held in Commonwealth countries.
In this spirit of the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique, Dr. Mahathir should have welcomed the formation of Election Watch and praised the six members for their patriotism and public sense of duty, instead of denouncing them as if they had committed some heinous crime. In fact, Dr. Mahathir should further honour the spirit and letter of the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique by requesting an international observer mission to scrutinise the Malaysian electoral process, to prove to all Malaysians and the world that the electoral process in Malaysia is free, fair, clean and honest!
Call on all Malaysians to exercise vigilance to frustrate attempt by Barisan Nasional to rig the next general elections
I do not expect Dr. Mahathir to honour the spirit and letter of the Kuala Lumpur CHOGM Communique. The Barisan Nasional Government is famous for double standards in its human rights record.
During question time Parliament today, I asked the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub, how Malaysia can claim to be more democratic, when in South Africa, Nelson Mandela after his release after 27 years of incarceration, could address public rallies of 50,000 people and even 100,000 people, but in Malaysia, public rallies are still banned.
Datuk Megat’s reply was that matters in South Africa should be left to South Africans, while matters in Malaysia to Malaysians. If this is the Barisan Nasional Government’s political philosophy, then Dr. Mahathir has been wasting public funds going to Lusaka to meet with Nelson Mandela and was only being hypocritical when he spoke at international forums to condemn the apartheid policies of South Africa.
The signs are very clear that for the first time in Malaysian history of general elections since Merdeka in 1957, there will be attempts at the rigging of the results for the next general elections.
All Malaysians, who are concerned about the future of democracy and human rights, must exercise vigilance to frustrate the attempt by the Barisan Nasional to rig the next general elections, starting with the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise and changes to election rules and regulations.
If the Election Commission refuses to suspend the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise from March 1 – 27, then all eligible voters must take the trouble to ensure that he is a registered voter. Clearly, the Election Commission will only be interested in getting the 300,000 UMNO Baru members registered as voters – and the other registration centres are deserted and empty for the entire period of 27-days.
Secondly, those who have information about the electoral irregularities, especially in the illegal registration of considerable number of UMNO Baru members below the age of 21, should report to Election Watch and Opposition parties.
Call for the suspension of the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise until a new date when the Election Commission had completed preparation and dispatched the new 1989 Electoral Roll to all State Election Offices and voters’ registration officials
The snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise starts today, although the Election Commission has not completed the preparation and dispatched the new 1989 Electoral Roll to all State Election officers and voters’ registration officials.
It is scandalous that the Election Commission should start a new voters’ registration exercise when it has not been able to complete and send out the new Electoral Roll to all State Election Offices and registration officers.
All registering officers should have the new electoral roll for their names are missing and they should re-register themselves. This had been the practice in the practice in the past in all the voters’ registration exercises.
But this time, the new 1989 Electoral Roll has not been able to be completed in time to be sent out to all State Election Offices and registering officials.
In fact, The DAP had wanted to buy the 1989 Electoral Roll, but has been unable to do so. The Election Commission seems to regard the 1989 electoral roll as a state secret!
The real blame for this scandalous state of affairs is the UMNO Baru and the Barisan Nasional Government, which had violated the independence and integrity and insisted on a snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise from March 1, when the Election Commission is not ready to do so, in particular to complete the preparation of the Electoral Roll to be sent out to all State Election Offices and all registering officials.
UMNO Baru, in its ‘mock election’ exercise in the last two weeks, had probably started registering its 300,000 members as voters, so it matters not to UMNO Baru whether the 1989 Electoral Roll is completed or not.
The Election Commission’s independence, fairness and integrity is greatly at stake if it continues with its voters’ registration exercise when it has not be able to send out to all State Election Offices and voters’ registration officials, as well as opposition parties, the new 1989 Electoral Roll.
The Election Commission should suspend the snap 27-day voters’ registration exercise starting today, and postpone it to all State Election Offices and voters’ registration officials, as well as to all political parties.