Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Sabah state general elections ceramah in Sandakan on Thursday, 5th July 1990 at 9 p.m.
DAP will stand with the PBS Government against the Barisan Nasional Federal Government on Federal-State issues, and stand with the people of Sabah against the PBS Government on state and local government issues
There are people who asked why the DAP is contesting in the Sabah state general elections, as they think the DAP should stay out of the state general elections and contest only in the Parliamentary elections. Many of these people say that they would support the DAP in the Parliamentary elections but find it difficult to vote for the DAP in the Sabah state general elections.
This is a legitimate question which I want to address and answer in tonight’s ceramah and to explain why it is important not only to the people of Sabah, but to the PBS Government as well, that the DAP should have elected representatives in the Sabah State Assembly.
I fully understand the concerns of those who feel that the DAP should stay out of the Sabah state general elections, for they are great supporters of the DAP in the parliamentary elections.
Let us analyse why up to now, the voters of Sabah could vote for the DAP in Parliamentary elections but not in the Sabah state general elections.
The very fact that the Sabah voters could vote for the DAP in the parliamentary elections shows that they support the political struggle, principles and objectives of the DAP. The reason why they could not vote for the DAP in Sabah state general elections up to now is because they want a strong Sabah State Government to stand up to the Barisan Nasional Federal Government and in particular to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.
DAP does not want to topple PBS Government
They are afraid that if they support the DAP in the Sabah state general elections, the PBS may be able to form the Government. In fact, there are even people who ask whether the DAP wants to see the toppling of the PBS Government.
Let me declare clearly and unequivocally, firstly, that the DAP does not want to see the toppling of the PB’S Government in Sabah; and secondly, that there is no likelihood that the PBS will lose power in the present Sabah state general elections.
PBS leaders have openly expressed their confidence that they would be able to win the next general elections with handsome majorities, in the region of well over 30 seats.
There is also the theory of the nine-year cycle of the rise and fall of Sabah state governments. Tun Mustapha’s USNO state government ruled form 1967 to 1976 for nine years, before it was toppled by the Berjaya Government. Harris Salleh’s Berjaya Government ruled from 1976 to 1985 for nine years, before it was toppled by the PBS Government.
PBS Government is still safe, at least until 1994
According to this theory of the nine-year cycle of the rise and fall of Sabah State Governments, Joseph Pairin Kitingan’s PBS Government is still safe for at least another four years until 1994!
The question of the fall of the PBS Government in this Sabah state general election, therefore, does not arise at all. The next question is whether support for the DAP in the Sabah state general elections will weaken the PBS Government in dealing with the Barisan Nasional Federal Government on Federal-State issues concerning the constitutional rights and status of Sabahans.
Before I answer this question, let us consider whether the PBS Government had been very successful in upholding and restoring the constitutional rights and status of the people of Sabah in Malaysia, although the DAP stayed out of the 1986 Sabah state general elections to give the PBS Government the strongest majority possible.
In the last four years, the PBS Government had backslided and deviated from its election pledges to uphold and restore the constitutional rights and status of the people of Sabah, precisely because there was no DAP Assemblyman in the Sabah State Assembly to remind the PBS Government of its commitments, pledges and undertakings to the people of Sabah.
For instance, the problem of the illegal Filipino and Indonesian immigrants grew from bad to worse in the years of the PBS Government from 1985 to 1990, although this was one of the central planks of the PBS election pledges in the two previous general elections.
What was worse, the PBS Government seemed to have forgotten about its promise to resolve the illegal immigrants problem until October 1989, when I visited Sabah after the 18-month detention under the Internal Security Act in Kamunting under Operation Lalang.
Sabahans are becoming ‘refugees’ in their own home state
In my visits to Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Semporna last October, I expressed my shock and horror that the problem of illegal immigrants had got worse since the PBS Government had come into power, and I declared that this had become the paramount concern of all Sabahans.
I was at first attacked by the PBS leaders for raising a ‘false alarm’ about the problem of the illegal immigrants, but when the PBS Government realised from its public feedbacks that the people were getting very disenchanted with it because of the illegal immigrants issue, the PBS Government began to make noises about the issue and demanded action by the Federal Government.
This is the best illustration that without the DAP, the PBS would have swept the problem of the illegal immigrants under the carpet, although it was getting worse by leaps and bounds.
However, if there had been DAP Assemblymen to keep reminding the PBS Government of its promise to resolve the illegal immigrants problem three or four times a year when the Sabah State Assembly meets, the problem would never have escalated so seriously.
I still remember that when I came over to Sabah in 1978 and spoke about the concerns of the people of Sabah about the illegal immigrants problem, I was challenged to substantiate my allegation that there were 140,000 illegal immigrants in Sabah. Recently, one top PBS leader estimated that there are 700,000 illegal immigrants in Sabah, or one out of every two persons in Sabah is an illegal immigrant! At this rate, it would not be long before a Sabahan becomes a ‘refugee’ in his own state!
What is worth serious attention is the fantastic rate of increase of the illegal immigrants, from 140,000 in 1978 to 700,000 in 1990 – an increase five-fold in 12 years. At this rate of increase, in another 12 years in 2,020, the illegal Filipino and Indonesian immigrant population could have reached 3.5 million!
This is what would happen if the PBS Government is allowed to ‘forget’ its political commitments and promises except to make soothing statements and reiterate election pledges to ‘deport all illegal immigrants’ once in five years when general elections are held.
PBS Government has done absolutely nothing on Labuan issue for past five years
Or take the case of Labuan. The PBS election manifesto pledged that the PBS Government would ‘continue to work for the return of Labuan without conditions’ to Sabah. However, for the past five years, the PBS Government had done absolutely nothing to ask the Federal Government to return Labuan to Sabah.
No single PBS Member of Parliament dared to raise the Labuan issue in Parliament in the last five years. Only the DAP MPs spoke up on Labuan, on the illegal immigrants issue and other subjects of grave concern to the Sabahans in Parliament.
However, if in the past few years, the DAP had been represented in the Sabah State Assembly, and everytime the Sabah State Assembly meets, the Sabah Chief Minister is required to give a progress report on the Labuan issue, then the PBS Government would not be able to ‘sleep’ on the issue for five years – to refurbish it as a pledge in the PBS manifesto once every five years during the general elections.
Or take the case of the PBS election pledge to review the Internal Security Act. When I was detained under the Internal Security Act together with 105 others under Operation Lalang Operation in October 1987, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan did not speak up for our release. Instead, he issued a statement praising Dr. Mahathir for the mass detentions under the Internal Security Act!
I do not hold any personal grudges against Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as I did not expect any reward or gratitude when I gave him full support in 1985 and 1986 when he and the PBS, as well as the people of Sabah, went through their darkest days – especially with rioting, bombings and arson in Sabah in March 1986.
I mention this because it is another area where the PBS had backslided and deviated from its promise to stand up for democracy and human rights, and why it is necessary that the DAP should be in the Sabah State Assembly to constantly remind the PBS Government of its pledges, commitments and political principles.
Corruption is another area which has caused great disenchantment to the people of Sabah, for the PBS was formed to fight corruption, but now this social cancer has returned to Sabah with a vengeance.
I know that there are many people in Sabah who take the attitude that as far as the Sabah state general elections are concerned, these PBS backslidings and deviations, including the problem of corruption, are secondary, for the primary question is to ensure that the PBS Government could stand up to the Barisan Nasional Federal Government and Dr. Mahathir on Federal-State matters.
This is a short-sighted attitude, for as the events of the past five years have shown, these backslidings and deviations by the PBS Government can only weaken and undermine its own position to stand up to the Barisan Nasional Federal Government and Dr. Mahathir for the rights of the Sabahans.
I am asking the people of Sabah to vote for the DAP in the Sabah state general elections because support for the DAP will not weaken, but on the contrary, reinforce and strengthen the position of the PBS Government in its dealings with the Barisan Nasional Federal Government.
This is because on Federal-State matters, the DAP will stand solidly behind the PBS Government against the Barisan Nasional Federal Government.
However, on state and local government issues, the DAP will stand solidly with the people of Sabah against the PBS Government, for the record of the PBS Government of the past five years have shown that there must be an effective check on the PBS Government for the welfare of the people of Sabah.