DAP-Semangat 46 co-operate will work to re-unite Malaysians who have been divided by the politics of race of the Barisan Nasional to lay a sounder basis for nation-building in the 1990s

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Joint DAP-Semangat 46 National Ceramah held at Kluang on Saturday, 24th March 1990 at 9 pm

DAP-Semangat 46 co-operate will work to re-unite Malaysians who have been divided by the politics of race of the Barisan Nasional to lay a sounder basis for nation-building in the 1990s

Malaysian have been deeply divided by the politics of race of the Barisan Nasional to the extent that many leaders have admitted that the problem of racial polarisation is the most serious in the 33-year history of Malaysia since Independence.

The politics of race of the Barisan Nasional is best seen by the attacks which had been made against the co-operation between DAP and Semangat 46 by the Barisan Nasional parties. UMNO Baru for instance accused Semangat 46 of betraying the rights and honour of the Malay race, while MCA and Gerakan attacked the DAP for selling out the rights of the Chinese in Malaysia. MIC would have attacked the DAP of selling out the rights of the Indians, if its leaders are not so busy with the Vijandran pornographic videotapes scandal.

If the accusation is by the various component Barisan Nasional parties are right, that as the result of the Dap-Semangat 46 co-operation, the rights of the Malays, the Chinese and the non-Malays have all been sold out, then which Malaysians will be left for the DAP and Semangat 46 to fight for?

It is time that Malaysians unite, not as Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans, but as Malaysians, and the co-operation between the DAP and Semangat 46 has as one of its objectives the building of a united Malaysian people.

If the Barisan Nasional component parties are committed to Malaysian nation-building, they should welcome the co-operation between the DAP and Semangat 46 as a positive step towards naiton-building. However, the Barisan Nasional parties are very worried that the co-operation between the DAP and Semangat 46 would undermine their power base which is founded on the politics of race.

DAP call s for he people to support the movement started by DAP and Semangat 46 democratic reforms

DAP and Semangat 46 are also co-operating to launch a nation-wide movement for democratic change and reforms. All over he world, even in authoritarian and totalitarian counties like Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, people are breaking their chains to demand for democracy and freedom.

In Malaysia, this movement for democratic change and reform is represented by the co-operation between the DAP and Semangat 46. We want an end to the abuses of power, violation of human rights and attacks on the democratic system committed by the Barisan Nasional government, particular in the past four years.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir Mohamed is hoping that Malaysians will have a short memory, and come the next general elections, they would have forgotten about the mass ISA arrests of Operation Lalang in October/November 1987; the closure of four newspapers; the assault on the principles of Independence of the Judiciary and the sacking of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Sulaiman and Datuk George Seah; the gross abuses of power as illustrated by the Vijandran pornographic videotapes scandal; not ot mention the various scandals like the $1.6 billion co-operative finance scandal; the $3.5 billion North-South Highway Scandal if United Engineers Malaysia (UEM); the $1 billion Bank Bumiputra II Scandal; the $4.5 billion British arms purchase scandal and a whole host of others.

Malaysians must prove Dr.Mahathir wrong, that they do not have a short memory, or suffer from political amnesia.

The next general elections is the occasion for the people on the country to tell the Barisan Nasional that it had failed to honour its election pledge to have a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ government.

As a first step, the people must remove the two-thirds parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional government. No movement in Malaysia for democratic change and reform can go far so long as the Barisan Nasional command two-thirds parliamentary majority, for it can then chop and change the Constitution at its whim and fancy.

DAP calls on government to ensure a free press by removing all press restrictions, including the annual incensing of newspaper

A free press is one of the pre-conditions for a meaningful parliamentary democracy. The restoration of press freedoms will be one of the objectives of the DAP and Parti Semangat 46, as we are co-operating to save democracy and restore human rights.

It is during the last nine years under the Mahathir government that printing, publication and press laws have most fettered press freedoms in Malaysia.

During the last meeting of Parliament, the government introduced the 1990 Bernama Amendment Bill which will give Bernama the exclusive right to receive into Malaysia news or news material from foreign news agencies and other organisations.

Clearly, not content with its control on local press freedom, the Government new wants to extent its tentacles to regulate the entry, receipt and circulation of foreign news and news materials.

What Malaysians need is not tougher and tougher press and printing laws, but the removal of press laws and regulations which restrict press freedom and limit the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression in Malaysia.

For this reason, I call on the Government abolish the press law requiring annual licencing of newspapers, which has acted as an annual threat that a newspaper would be closed down if it does not keep within the limits set by the Government.

For this reason, I also call for the withdrawal of the Bernama Amendment Bill altogether.