Press Conference Statement by DAP Secretary-General, DAP MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Wednesday, 24th October 1990 at 12 noon
Resignation as DAP Secretary-General for the DAP’s setbacks and failure to meet expectations in general elections
I have yesterday submitted my letter of resignation as DAP Secretary-General to the DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin.
My letter of resignation reads:
“Sdr. Dr. Chen Min Hin,
Sdr. Dr. Chen,
The 1990 general election results have been the greatest political agony in the 24 years of my political struggle.
Even when the DAP suffered its worst electoral debacle in 1982, when the DAP was reduced to six seats in Peninsular Malaysia, I have not felt so distraught and desolate. In actual fact, the 1990 election results were so much better than in 1982, with 20 Parliamentary seats as compared to nine, and with 45 State Assembly seats which is the greatest breakthrough for the DAP in party history.
The great sadness and dejection, however, is because of the great opportunity missed.
Nationally, there was an unprecedented historic opportunity for far-reaching political change and for the birth of a two-coalition system in Malaysia. And for Penang state, there was an opportunity to bring about change by forming a DAP State Government.
The Oct 21 results proved otherwise. The DAP suffered the following setbacks nationally and in Penang state:
1. The total number of DAP MPs fell from 24 to 20:
2. The loss of the four DAP Parliamentary seats in Sabah, and in particular, the defeat of Sabah DAP Chairman and DAP National Treasurer, Sdr. Fung Ket Wing, who had fought and sacrificed for the cause of the people of Sabah and Malaysia for the past 12 years – keeping the flame of hope of the people of Sabah alive even in the darkest days, seven years before the birth of PBS:
3. The loss of the two DAP Parliamentary seats in Negri Sembilan, with your and Sdr. Hu Sepang’s defeat in the general elections;
4. The defeat of Sdr. P.Patto, Sdr. Lee Ban Chien and Sdr. Ng Wei Siong and the failure of the DAP to win in Sungei Siput, Bakri and Kluang;
5. The failure in Penang to achieve Tanjung 2 to form the Penang state government and the defeat of Sdr. Karpal Singh, Sdr. Gooi Hock Seng and Sdr. Ahmad Nor in State Assembly elections.
As Secretary-General, I bear full responsibility for the DAP’s setbacks and failures on Oct 21, and for this reason, I hereby submit my resignation as DAP Secretary-General.
I have not given up my political beliefs and principles, but in view of the above five reasons, the time has come for a new DAP Secretary-General. I will continue in the common cause which had brought us together for 24 years in our political struggle for all Malaysians and future generations for a united, democratic, just and equal Malaysian nation and I pledge the fullest and unstinting support to the new Secretary-General of the party.
(Lim Kit Siang)
Dated: 23rd October 1990:
Lim Keng Yaik should resign as Gerakan President because he and other top Gerakan leaders have become the new Ling Liong Sik’s who could only win on UMNO’s Malay votes
Yesterday, Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik came to Penang to make very personal and bitter attacks against me and called me all sorts of names.
He also challenged me to step down as Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General because of the failure of the Tanjung 2 project and for me to fulfill my campaign promise.
Firstly, I cannot resign as Parliamentary Opposition Leader because I have ceased to be Parliamentary Opposition Leader since the dissolution of Parliament on 5th October. I am surprised that a Cabinet Minister and senior political leader like Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is not aware of such an elementary fact.
Secondly, I know very clearly what I said during the Tanjung 2 campaign.
This is what I said at my fourth Tanjung 2 election ceramah at Batu Lancang on Sunday, 14th October 1990:
“If the Tanjung 2 slate of candidates in Penang, where six DAP leaders left their safe and strong seats to challenge Gerakan and MCA leaders in their strongholds, is crushed or wiped out, then it will be the beginning of the end of my 24-year political life.
“Having tried mightily and failed miserably to enlist the people of Penang and Malaysia to effect political change, to establish a two-coalition system and to reassert their right to help decide their own political destiny, it would be time for me to begin to take my leave and for others to soldier on.”
I had then said: “In these circumstances, I will be wrapping up my political life. For a short, I would not offer myself as Parliamentary Opposition Leader after the general elections, and in the DAP national party elections at the end of the year, I will also not offer myself for the post of DAP Secretary-General.”
The first question therefore is whether the Tanjung 2 slate of candidates in Penang had been ‘crushed or wiped out’? If so, then the DAP would not have increased from 10 to 14 seats. It is true that we have fallen short of our Tanjung 2 objective by three seats, but nobody can claim that the DAP’s slate of candidates had been ‘crushed or wiped out’.
The second question is whether the DAP had succeeded in enlisting the people of Penang and Malaysia to effect political change and to establish a two-coalition system. If the DAP had failed to enlist our traditional ground in Penang and Malaysia to support the creation of a two-coalition system, the DAP would not have won six Parliamentary seats in Penang or 20 Parliamentary seats in Malaysia.
I do not run away, however, from my personal responsibility for the setbacks and failures suffered by the DAP in the Oct 21 general election. This is why I had submitted my letter of resignation as DAP Secretary-General to the DPA National Chairman, Dr. Chen Min Hin, yesterday, setting out the five major setbacks and failures for the DAP in the general election.
In actual fact, if anybody should retire from politics forthwith, it is Dr. Lim Keng Yaik himself. This is because under his leadership, he and other top Gerakan leaders like Kerk Choo Ting and Ong Kim Tin have become the new ‘Ling Liogn Siks’, who could only win their parliamentary seats with UMNO’s Malay votes.
In fact, if not for the rescue by UMNO’s Malay votes, Keng Yaik, Choo Ting and Kim Tin would have all been defected in Oct 21 general election.
The other reason is that under Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’s leadership, Dr. Lim Chong Eu was defeated in Padang Kota and the Gerakan was reduced to seven State Assembly seats.
Dr. Lim’s rejection of DAP shows that the Gerakan national leaders are sacrificing the rights of the people of Penang for their own interests
Yesterday, I announced that the DAP is prepared to co-operates with Gerakan to form a Penang State Government which reflects and fulfills the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the voters of Penang during the general elections on Oct 21. I also said that the DAP is prepared to have discussions with Gerakan leaders on this issue without any pre-conditions.
In an immediate response from Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik rejected the offer, saying that I could not be trusted and again called me names.
Dr. Lim’s rejection of the DAP offer to co-operate with Gerakan to form a State Government which reflects and fulfills the wishes of the people of Penang shows that the Gerakan national leaders are sacrificing the rights of the people of Penang for the own interests.
All along, the national Gerakan leaders had made use of Gerakan’s power base in Penang to enjoy national political positions in the Federal Government. When the time comes for a choice to be made between the rights and interests of the people of Penang and the interests of the national Gerakan leaders, the national Gerakan leaders have given priority to their interests in the Federal Government, which they regard as paramount and more important than the rights and interests of the people of Penang.
The DAP’s offer to co-operate with Gerakan to form a Penang State Government to reflect and fulfill the wishes of the people of Penang remains open, and I hope that the Penang Gerakan and the seven Gerakan Assemblymen would have give it serious thought.
The issue the Penang Gerakan and the seven Gerakan Assemblymen should consider is whether it is the wishes of the people of Penang to have a UMNO-led and UMNO-dominated Penang State Government, regardless of who becomes the Penang Chief Minister, in view of the fact that UMNO has 12 as compared to Gerakan’s seven seats in the Assembly.
A state referendum will clearly show that the people of Penang would want a DAP-Gerakan Penang State Government rather than a UMNO-led and UMNO-dominated Government
If this is not the wishes of the people of Penang, as expressed in the general elections on Oct 21, then it is the duty of Penang Gerakan and the seven Gerakan Assemblymen to seriously consider the DAP’s offer of co-operation to form a Penang State Government which could reflect and fulfill the people’s wishes.
If the Penang Gerakan and the seven Gerakan Assemblymen refuse to consider the DAP’s offer of co-operation, then an opportunity will be missed whereby the people of Penang could have a Penang State Government which reflected and fulfill their wishes – and the Penang Gerakan would have created a situation where the real power in the Penang State Government is UMNO, regardless of who becomes Penang Chief Minister.
I have no doubt that if there is now a referendum among the people of Penang to ask for their views as to whether they support a UMNO-led and UMNO-dominated Penang State Government, or a Penang State Government formed on the co-operation of DAP and Gerakan to reflect and fulfill the wishes of the people of Penang, the choice will be clear and unmistakable.
The decision is now in the hands of the Penang Gerakan and the seven Gerakan Assemblymen – as to whether they could rise above party considerations, put the rights and interests of the people of Penang above everything else, and respond positively to the DAP’s offer to co-operate with them to form a Penang State Government to reflect and fulfill the people’s wishes.
There is still hope for change in Penang. The question if whether the Penang Gerakan and the even Gerakan Assemblymen are prepared to heed the call of the people of Penang for change, or whether they want to continue to disregard it and allow the formation of a UMNO-led and UMNO-dominated Penang State Government.