The on-off fight between Liong SIik and Kim Sai for the MCA Presidency is again off because of the UMNO Supreme Council meeting last Saturday

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Wednesday, June 20, 1990:

The on-off fight between Liong SIik and Kim Sai for the MCA Presidency is again off because of the UMNO Supreme Council meeting last Saturday

The on-off fight between Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Lee Kim Sai for the MCA Presidency is again off after a ‘peace’ dinner in the MCA President’s residence on Monday night.

It would appear that to the MCA leaders, ‘justice’ can be easily converted into ‘self-interest’ just over one dinner. The Kim Sai forces had raised the standard of ‘justice’ to fight the Liong Sik camp, whom they dubbed as representing ‘self-interest’ – but clearly, in the MCA ‘justice’ and ‘self-interest’ are easily interchangeable.

Undoubtedly, the real reason for the latest ‘off’ phase of the latest ‘off’ phase of the Liong Sik-Kim Sai power struggle is not unrelated to last Saturday’s UMNO Supreme Council meeting.

For the past month, there were some uncertainty as to whether the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, would really call for general elections this year.

This uncertainty seems to have been removed by the UMNO Supreme Council meeting, which discussed for the first time about the possible dates for the general elections.

The stage was set for general elections this year, and this was why the UMNO Supreme Council took the decision to defer the presentation of the Education Bill 1990 in the current meeting of Dewan Rakyat. Dr. Mahathir also embarked on a second nation-wide tour of the country, particularly to constituencies where the UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional would have trouble winning, like Lembah Pantai in Federal Territory, Besut in Trengganu, Nichong Tebal in Penang and Jelebu in Negri Sembilan.

The question is when Dr. Mahathir would dissolve Parliament. The crucial factor is whether Dr. Mahathir wants to use the new 1990 Electoral Roll so that the 455,103 new voters who registered in the Snap March voters’ registration exercise specially ordered by UMNO could cast their votes in the next general elections.

If Dr. Mahathir wants to wait for the new 1990 Electoral Roll, then he would not be able to hold general elections until after National Day on August 31.

This is because the Election Commission is facing more hitches than expected to produce the new Electoral Roll. The Election Commission had scheduled to put up the draft new Electoral Roll, incorporating the 455,103 new voters and 135,152 change of voter addresses, early this month for public inspection and objection.

However, it could do so on June 26 for two weeks till July 10. with such delay, it is unlikely that the new Electoral Roll could be produced by middle or end of August, although previously it was expected to be produced by July.

If Dr. Mahathir wants to hold general elections before National Day, then he would have to use the old 1989 Electoral Roll.

Unless there are other compelling reasons, Dr. Mahathir would prefer to use the new 1990 Electoral Roll as UMNO Baru had illegally and unfairly conducted a special operation to register voters in March, which Opposition parties could not do. One such compelling reason will be if Dr. Mahathir feels that any further delay in calling general elections can only be detrimental to the chances of UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional.