Speech (Part II) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Penang DAP State ‘Towards Tanjung 2’ Lunch held in Penang on Sunday, July 22, 1990 at 1.30 p.m.
There is no good reason or ground for Dr. Mahathir to have second thoughts about the Commonwealth Observer Mission
When the radio, television and the UMNO-owned or controlled mass media gave extensive coverage to the statement by the five-man Group of Concerned Citizens (GOCC) headed by former Senate President, Tun Omar Yoke Lin Ong, expressing total opposition to any observer group, whether foreign or local, for the coming general elections, I immediately suspected that this was the beginning of an orchestrated campaign against the Commonwealth Observer Mission.
My suspicion has now been proved right, with the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in Muar yesterday that the Barisan Nasional Government was having ‘second thoughts’ about inviting the Commonwealth Secretariat to send observers to witness the coming general elections.
It is no coincidence that in today’s press, there was also a statement by the Muslim Lawyers Association expressing opposition to foreign observers for the coming general elections. The Muslim Lawyer’s Association is well-known as an apologist for the Barisan Nasional government, in particular during the Judicial crisis in 1988 in the sacking of the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court Judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah.
An orchestrated campaign against the Commonwealth Observer Mission has been launched
Apart from the statements of Dr. Mahathir and the Muslim Lawyer’s Association, there was also an orchestrated campaign in the UMNO-owned and controlled media questioning the need and purpose of having a Commonwealth Observer Mission.
There is no good reason or ground for Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional Government to have second thoughts about the Commonwealth Observer Mission, and Dr. Mahathir’s allegation that the Commonwealth Secretary-General Chief Emeka Anyaoku had been unfairly influenced by the Election Watch to send two representatives to Malaysia to sound out the view of all political parties on Mission is most uncalled for.
It is also most unworthy of a person who had hosted and chaired the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kuala Lumpur last October and been appointed to head a 10-member high-level Commonwealth Study Group on the future of the Commonwealth in the 1990s.
Dr. Mahathir seems to be taking very strong objection that the two Commonwealth Secretariat representatives had met Opposition parties, even accusing the Commonwealth Secretariat of not being neutral.
I cannot understand Dr. Mahathir’s logic. DAP does not object to the Commonwealth Secretariat representatives meeting the Prime Minister and the leaders of the Barisan Nasional component parties or accuse them of bias for doing so.
Why should Dr. Mahathir object to the two Commonwealth Secretariat representatives meeting Opposition leaders, whether from DAP, Semangat 46 or PAS?
Even if the Commonwealth Secretariat representatives had met with Election Watch members, what is wrong? Surely, the Group of Concerned Citizens (GOCC) headed by Tun Omar Yoke Lin Ong could also meet the Commonwealth Secretariat representatives – and for all I know, had already met time.
Why had Dr. Mahathir lost confidence within a month that the next general elections could withstand international scrutiny to prove that it is ‘fair, free, clean and honest’?
Dr. Mahathir said yesterday that the Cabinet would ‘review the situation’ because it feared that the team was no longer neutral and had met opposition parties which it was not supposed to.
I just cannot understand how Dr. Mahathir could jump to the conclusion that the Commonwealth Observer Mission would be biased against the ruling Barisan Nasional, when the team had not even been appointed.
Is Dr. Mahathir suggesting that the Commonwealth Secretariat representatives would only be ‘fair’ and ‘neutral’ if they hear only from the Barisan Nasional parties, and refuse to hear any views or proposals from the Opposition parties? This must be a very perverted definition of what is ‘fair’ and ‘neutral’.
Dr. Mahathir seems to be trying desperately to find a way to back out of his commitment announced in Parliament on June 21 that the Barisan Nasional Government would invite a Commonwealth Observer Mission to prove that the coming general elections would be ‘above-board’.
Malaysians have a right to know why Dr. Mahathir was so confident in June that the next general elections in Malaysia can stand any international scrutiny to prove that it is ‘fair, free, clean and honest’, but less than a month later, he has lost such confidence completely?