Speech by Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Perak DAP 10,000- people Merdeka Anniversary Dinner cum welcome to 27 educationists and human rights activities into DAP held in Tou Roo Kong, Ipoh on Thursday, 30th August 1990 at 9p.m.
Call on Malaysians to clear the political haze and bravely strengthen democracy in Malaysia by creating a two-coalition system.
Malaysia celebrates the 33rd National Day tomorrow, with the Federal Capital and certain parts of the country enshrouded in a haze for the first time in the nation’s history, to the extent that the RMAF fly-past and parachute jump for the National Day celebrations in Kuala Lumpur have to be cancelled.
When the haze started 12 days ago, the Government blamed forest fires in Australia. But yesterday, the Cabinet directed stricter enforcement of anti-pollution measures as the haze has got worse.
I find the haze overhanging the Federal Capital and certain parts of the country very symbolic, for there is also a political haze overhanging Malaysia with the approach of the general elections, which could be held any time now.
Just like the haze overhanging certain parts of the country which must be traced to the failures of the Government to protect the Malaysian environment, the political haze overhanging the country must be traced to political failures of the Barisan Nasional to promote and strengthen democratic values and institutions in the country.
For the past few weeks and months, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and his Deputy, Ghafar Baba, had abandoned their government duties to campaign for the next general elections.
They want to make the people believe that under their stewardship democracy in Malaysia is sound and strong, and that the political future of Malaysia is clear, and that Malaysians have no stouter guardians of democracy than Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional leaders.
Acid test of a political leader who professes to believe in democracy
However, Dr.Mahathir has overlooked the fact that the acid test of whether a political leader believes in the system of elective parliamentary democracy is whether he would abide by the verdict of the people, even if the voters decide to vote him out of power.
Is Dr.Mahathir prepared to openly and publicly declare that he would humble step down as Prime minister and let Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah become the fifth Prime Minister if this is the decision of the people in a free and fair vote in the next general elections?
Or is Dr. Mahathir prepared to practice parliamentary democracy so long as he continuous to get two-thirds majority in Parliament and continue as Prime Minister?
The political haze in the country is created by the Barisan Nasional Government who say on the hand that they are the true guardians of Parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, while on the other hand, doubt the intelligence and ability of the people to handle a parliamentary democracy.
This is why the constant theme Dr. Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional leaders have been preaching in their country-wide tours is that if the people vote for the Opposition, there would be chaos, unrest, instability and even another May 13.
Dr. Mahathir has been claiming that Malaysia does not want democracy ala Westminster, but its own of democracy. I presume in this Malaysian brand of democracy ala Mahathir, the voters can only vote for the Opposition to form a small parliamentary band in Parliament, but not to deny the ruling parties their two-thirds majority or to replace with a new coalition altogether.
Why urban people vote for the Opposition
When Dr. Mahathir was electioneering in Penang last week, he said he could not understand hat why people in the towns voted in Opposition candidates.
The Prime Minister said: “I cannot understand why when we have served them well. The urbanities have all the facilities and live more comfortably than before.”
Dr. Mahathir claimed that in a democratic system, only the Government can help the people, and those outside cannot help but can only criticize.
The reason why the people in towns voted for the Opposition is because they know that this theory of democracy ala Mahathir will lead to the death of real democracy and its replacement by an authoritarian and dictatorial rule.
The people in the towns can see that with the approach of the general elections, the Barisan Nasional will present a very reasonable and accommodating face.
At present, the Barisan Nasional government is all sweet reasonableness. Everyday, the Government would announce ‘goodies’ for the people, whether it be an increase to $50,000 for every Barisan MP for so-called minor development projects in the constituency which is denied to the Opposition MP; or a $367 million hand-out to the 200,000 padi farmers with a 50 percent increase of padi subsidy backdated to July 1; or a new deal for the 120,000Felda settlers.
The scandal of the $9 million snow garden
To humour the voters, the Barisan Nasional Government is even prepared to spend $9 million to build a snow garden 42 metres long, 23 metres wide and 5.8 metres high where visitors can get a feel of the four seasons – winter, spring, summer and autumn.
This ‘snow garden’ is described as the only of its kind in the world, for the simple reason that no other country has been crazy enough to throw $9 million to build a ‘snow garden’ in the tropics!
The town voters are not impressed by such election gimmicks, for they know that when the general election approaches, the Government would put up its best face and most reasonable attitude. What is important is what face the Barisan Nasional puts up after the general elections.
In the run-up to the 1986 general elections, Dr. Mahathir and the Barisna Nasional also put up their best face and most reasonable attitudes a year or two before the dissolution of Parliament.
Will the town people so easily forget that after the August 1986 general elections, the country went through the most traumatic democratic and political experience, as illustrated by the long list of political, economic and moral scandals like the $1.6 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal, the Operation Lalang mass arrests, the attack on the Judiciary, the $1 billion Bank Bumiputra II Scandal, the Vijandran pornographic videotape scandal, the Multi-purpose Holdings Bhd. and Bolton Finance Scandal of Ling Liong Sik, etc?
The difference in the next general elections is that it is not only the urban people, but the rural people, who would be able to see the different faces of the Barisan Nasional before and after the general elections.
This is the result of the emergence of a two-coalition system in Malaysia where the people have a choice between the Barisan Nasional and other multi-ethnic front represented by the DAP, Semangat 46 and AMIPF.
This is why the entry of the 27 educations and human rights activists into the DAP, whom we also welcome at the Merdeka Anniversary Diner tonight, is such a major contribution to the promotion of the two-coalition system in Malaysia.
In Alor Star last week, Dr. Mahathir urged the Malaysian Chinese and other racial groups not to support extremist parties but to continue in support the Barisan Nasional. He said if the Barisan Nasional was returned with a week majority, it would not be able to maintain law and order or be effective.
He said that in 1969 the government was not as strong as it was today and this had resulted in the 1969 rights.
This is a very subtle and irresponsible way by Dr. Mahathir to use the May 13 incident to frighten the voters. Again, one who believes in the democratic principle that power finally rests with the people would not threaten the people in this manner.
Dr. Mahathir will not forget that in the 1969 general elections, he himself was defeated in his parliamentary seat in Kedah because he told the Chinese voters not to vote for him, as he would not represent their interests in Parliament. (Democracy Without Consensus – by Karl von Vorys).
That was the measure of the polarized situation during the 1969 general elections.
However, the situation is completely different today. There Opposition Front, Comprising the DAP, Semangat 46 and AMIPF, challenging the Barisan Nasional is another multi-ethnic alternative.
The Opposition parties are seeking the votes of all Malaysians, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans or Ibans, and this should be welcomed as a contribute to a healthier multi-ethnic political scenario in the country.
Unfortunately, instead of welcoming such a healthier multi-racial challenge to the Barisan Nasional, UMNO, MCA and MIC have resorted to the politics of race.
This is why the Barisna Nasional has created the political haze in the country. I call on the Malaysian people to take the courageous step in the next general elections to strengthen democratic values and institutions by supporting a two-coalition system in Malaysia in the next general elections.