DAP candidates may boycott the putting up of Rocket posters and banners in next general elections to protest against the new local council poster by-laws

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at a buffet reception to welcome the entry into DAP Of 27 Chinese educationists and human rights activists held at DAP Hqrs in PJ on Sunday, 26th August 1990 at 8 pm.

DAP candidates may boycott the putting up of Rocket posters and banners in next general elections to protest against the new local council poster by-laws.

The next general elections will be a historic political opportunity for the people of Malaysia to bring about great political changes in Malaysia unthinkable in the past 33 years of Malaysian political history, whether to remove the two-thirds parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional or even to replace theBarisan Nasional government with a new and alternative government led by Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The co-operation of the DAP and Semangat 46 to create a two-coalition system has forced the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to appear more sympathetic to the legitimate aspira¬tions of all races and communities in Malaysia, unlike the previous eight years of Dr. Mahathir rule.

However, these are cosmetic and temporary changes meant to win votes to fight off the unprecedented political challenges faced by the Barisan Nasional in the next general elections, and which would be abandoned once Dr. Mahathir is safely entrenched in power with two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Dr. Mahathir has also devised other tactics and responses to perpetuate not only his political power, but his two-thirds parliamen¬tary majority.

He has undermined and subverted the Election Commission which has lost its independence to carry out its Constitutional man¬date to conduct a free and fair general elections, and has to obey the new election laws, regulations and other by-laws imposed by the Bari¬san Nasional Government which stacked the odds greatly to the advantage of the ruling parties.

There have been numerous amendments to the election laws and regulations which were made not by the Election Commission, but on the directive of the Barisan Nasional Government, like the new systems on the counting of votes, the postal ballot, the shortening of the time of voting for 12 hours from 8 am to 8 pm in the 1970s to less than 10 hours from 8 am to 5.30 pm in the next general elections.

The latest new batch of by-laws to benefit the Barisan Nasional and create great disadvantage and hardship to the Opposition in the next general elections are the new local, government by-laws on the putting up of posters, banners and billboards in the next general elections.

Firstly, these by-laws were not made by the local councils themselves, but were the decision of the Barisan Nasional Cabinet, which directed the Attorney-General’s Chambers to send a draft set of the
by-laws to all local government authorities to be adopted by them in time for the next general elections.

Under these new Local Government (Election Advertisement.) By-Laws 1990, political parties will have, to apply for a permit for every billboard they want to put up in the elections, or for every street or road where they wish to put up posters, banners or sign¬boards in connection with elections.

The new by-laws require a deposit of $50 for every such permit. The president of each council is also empowered to attach any condition to any permit which he deems fit.

These deposits would be forfeited if the election posters are not removed 14 days after the general elections.

This would mean that on average, candidates would have to spend $10,000 as deposits just to apply for permits to put up posters, banners and billboards.

The deposit for a parliamentary candidate for nomination is $5,000. It is most unfair that the local authorities should now require an additional $10,000 as deposits for permits to put up post¬ers, banners and billboards, which is double the amount of the deposit for a parliamentary candidate.

By imposing such stiff financial requirements, the general elections become a contest of money rather than a elections for the best political party and candidate to represent the people to decide the country’s political future.

The new local council by-laws on deposits for election posters, banners and billboards make a mockery
of the whole election process. It is highly objectionable and demeaning to describe elec¬tion posters, banners and billboards as ‘election advertisement’ as if they are some mercenary commercials, like advertising soap, cigarettes or beverages.

An independent Election Commission mindful of its constitutional duty to ensure a free and fair
general elections would have intervened to stop the local councils from enacting such, unrea-sonable and undemocratic by-laws.

Furthermore, it goes against the very principle of free elections that these new, local government by-laws, which are to have such a great influence on the elections campaign, were made without consultation with the Opposition parties but were unilaterally and arbitrarily decided by the Barisan Nasional leaders in the Cabinet and transmitted to all the local authorities.

As a protest ‘against the’ undemocratic and arbitrary local council by-laws on election posters, banners and billboards, requiring unreasonable and punitive deposits from the Opposition candidates, the DAP candidates may boycott the putting up of any Rocket poster, banner and billboard in the next general elections. This will highlight the many unfair and dirty tactics which the Barisan Nasional Government is using to cheat in the next general elections.