If Malaysians cannot peacefully change the government through the ballot box, then Malaysia cannot claim that it is a parliamentary democracy

Speech by Parliamentary Oopsition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at Penang. DAP ‘Towards Tanjung 2’ dialogue-dinner held at Fortuna Restaurant, Penang on Friday, 31st August 1990 at 9 p.m.

If Malaysians cannot peacefully change the government through the ballot box, then Malaysia cannot claim that it is a parliamentary democracy.

The DAP’s main objective in the next general elections is to create a two-coalition system in Malaysia.

This is because for the first time in the 33 years since Merdeka, the conditions are ripe for the emergence of a two-coalition system in Malaysia. The emergence of this two-coalition system will end the authoritarian and dictatorial rule of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed because of his overwhelming two-thirds majority in Parliament.

In his National Day message yesterday, Dr. Mahathir said democracy is one of the factors for Malaysia’s success.

Yet, this democracy that Dr. Mahathir talks about is a very restricted and guided one, for Dr. Mahathir and the other Barisan Nasional leaders also assert that a two-coalition system is not suitable for Malaysia.

The final test of democracy in any country is the right of the people to peacefully change the government through the ballot box. If in Malaysia, the people do not have this right, then we cannot claim to be a parliamentary democracy.

Is Dr. Mahathir prepared to accept Tengku Razaleigh as the new Prime Minister if this is the verdict of the voters in the next general elections?

Or to put it bluntly. If in the next general elections, the Malaysian voters decide through the ballot box that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah should be the fifth Prime minister, is Dr. Mahathir prepared to accept this verdict of the people and take his place as the new Parliamentary Opposition leader, and pledge his co-operation to the new coalition government of Malaysia and oppose all attempts to destabilize the new government by undemocratic and unconstitutional means?

If Malaysians are only allowed the democratic right to vote in an Opposition group of Parliamentarians and not to change the Barisan Nasional Government, then we are only slightly better than the previous communist regimes in Eastern Europe where the people were also periodically required to last their votes for a slate of candidates pre-determined by the country’s Communist Party leadership.

If Malaysians have the right to change and elect the government of their choice through the ballot box, then those who say that the two-coalition system is not suitable for Malaysia are talking utter nonsense.

The next general elections will be a milestone to test whether after 33 years of nationhood, democracy has struck root in Malaysia. It will be a test as to whether Malaysians can be proud of the parliamentary democracy in Malaysia because all political parties, whether in Opposition or in power, humbly and willingly accept the verdict of the people through the ballot box – or whether Malaysia is to have parliamentary democracy only so long as Dr. Mahathir remains Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional in power?

The emerging two-coalition system should be welcomed by all Malaysians who care for democratic freedoms and human rights, for it would be a check against dictatorial rule, abuse of power and utter disregard of the rights and sensitivities of the people.

As a result of his emerging two-coalition system, which is offering the people of Malaysia the choice of an alternative for the first time in Malaysia history, we find the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed and the Barisan Nasional Government putting up a face of sweet reasonableness in the past year.

Dr. Mahathir and Ghafar Baba have become Malaysian Santa Claus One and Santa Claus Two at public expense because of the emerging two-coalition system.

Dr. Mahathir and Ghafar Baba are spending more time visiting the various states than in their offices distributing goodies to all and sundry, acting as Malaysian Santa Claus One and Santa Claus Two in the past year at public expense because of the emerging to-coalition system.

The latest ‘goodies’ to he given out re the $367 million hand-out to the 200,000 padi farmers with a 50 per cent increase of padi subsidy, a new deal for the 120,000 Felda settlers, and even a $9 million show garden, 42 metres long, 23 metres wide and 6.8 metres high, to create the four seasons of winter, spring, summer and autumn in the tropics!

If Dr. Mahathir is supremely confident of the Barisan Nasional’s chances and has no doubt that he would be returned to power and with two-thirds parliamentary majority, he would not be making series after series of state-by-state tours – including the latest series with his three stooges: Datuk Dr. ling Liong Sik, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Datuk Samy Vellu.

The emergence of the two-coalition system will promote multi-racial building, for the Opposition Front comprising the DAP, Semangat 46 and AMIPF are making efforts to build bridges to get the support of Malaysians of all races, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians.

DAP not only wants to win in DAP constituencies but to help ensure Semangat 46 also win in their constituencies

The DAP wants not only to win in the constituencies to be contested by the DAP, but will do our almost to ensure that Semangat 46 candidates can win as well. This applies to Semangat 46, which wants not only its own candidates to win but also to see the victory of DAP candidates so that a two-coalition system can emerge in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, while the Opposition parties are reaching out towards a more multi-racial politics, it is the Barisan Nasional component parties like UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan, which are resorting more and more blatantly to the politics of race.

UMNO leaders for instance accuse Semangat 46 of betraying the Malay race and Malay rights, while MCA and Gerakan leaders accuse DAP of betraying the Chinese race and Chinese rights, because of the DAP-Semangat 46 co-operation.

It is very sad that 33 years Merdeka, UMNO, MCA Gerakan and MIC continue to pander to the politics of communalism and the politics of fear to maintain their political support.

This is all the more reason why in the nest general elections, the voters should clearly tell UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC that their politics of communalism and politics of fear belong to a bygone era, and is completely unsuitable for Malaysia in the 1990s and the 21st century.

What the UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC are doing is a throw-back to the past of Communal politics what the DAP and Semangat 46 are seeking to do is to chart a future od the politics of multi-racialism.