Speech by DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, at the first meeting of newly-elected 20 DAP MPs and 45 Assemblymen, and DAP candidates, at CUEPACS HALL, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, Oct 28 1990 at 10 a.m.
I yield to the unanimous rejection of my resignation by the DAP Central Executive Committee and the nation-wide request of party members, supporters and the people of Penang, Sabah and throughout the country, to continue as DAP Secretary-General
Two days after the 1990 general elections results, I submitted my letter of resignation to the DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, to accept full and total personal responsibility for the nation-wide disappointment and despondency at the general elections results.
It is not just the DAP leaders and members who were shocked by the 1990 general elections results, but also the people and the nation at large.
Never before in Malaysian history, have so many Malaysians hoped and worked in their respective ways for meaningful political change in Malaysia – at minimum the denial of the two-thirds parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional.
In Penang, never before since 1969 had so many Penangites hoped and worked in their own ways to bring about change and establish a Penang State Government to usher in change for the 1990s.
This is why the people in Malaysia, and in particular the people of Penang, felt cheated when the full results of the 1990 general elections were announced.
This is why in the first two days after the general elections results, there were shock, dismay and even disbelief throughout the country.
Malaysians cheated of the unprecedented historic opportunity for change in Malaysia and Penang
And in actual fact, the people and country were cheated of meaningful political change in Malaysia and in a Penang by the dirtiest tactics used by the Barisan Nasional and in particular by UMNO in the final days of the 10-day election campaign – especially in the unscrupulous, unprincipled and most irresponsible resort to the politics of race and religion, as well as the politics of fear and money.
The 1990 general elections was most unfair and undemocratic, and the people of Penang and Malaysia were cheated of a historic of race and religion, as well as the politics of fear and money.
The 1990 general elections was most unfair and undemocratic, and the people of Penang and Malaysia were cheated of a historic and unprecedented opportunity to bring about political change on Oct 21.
I submitted my resignation as DAP Secretary-General to accept full and total personal responsibility for the failure in the general elections to make a major political breakthrough in Malaysian politics with the creation of a two-coalition system.
I had never intended to quit politics, for to quit politics after the battle of Tanjung 2 to bring about change in Malaysia and in Penang will be an abandonment of the people who had responded to the call for political change and political commitment.
I am prepared to be abandoned by the people, but I will never abandon the people
I am prepared to be abandoned by the people, but I will never abandon the people.
I resigned as DAP Secretary-General because I wanted to accept full and total personal responsibility for the failure in the 1990 general elections to bring about political change in Malaysia, at minimum to deny the Barisan Nasional the two-thirds majority in Parliament, and the failure of the Tanjung 2 objective in Penang to establish a Penang DAP State Government. I had pledged to give full and unstinting support to the new DAP Secretary-General and the Party, and I would continue as MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Padang Kota.
In the last three days, I had been deluged by letters, phone calls, and even personal visits not only by Party members, but also ordinary members of the public whom I do not know, asking me to continue as DAP Secretary-General.
This is one of the letters which I received from a member of the public:
“I can quite understand your personal disappointment at the election results, not that the results in Penang were worse off, but simply because you need only three more state seats to form the state government, thus fulfilling the Tanjung II objective. It’s so close and yet so far away from achieving your goal…
“Although DAP have not succeeded in bringing about change in the political status quo in this general election, there are clear sing that change is in the offing. This is clearly supported by 44.79 per cent of votes in favour of the Opposition Front as compared to the 51.95 per cent of votes that go to the Barisan Nasional. The MCA, which claims to represent the five million Chinese in Malaysia, secured only 10 per cent of their votes. We hope you will continue to serve as Secretary-General to ensure that such a change will become a reality in the near future…
“To show you my support, and I have no doubt that many right thinking Malaysians will give similar support, I shall be pleased to join DAP as an ordinary member…
“… may I wish you every success in your struggle for democracy, social justice, equality, human rights, and human dignity in misguided polity.”
I do not know the writer, who is a Malaysian with a Ph.D., but I expect to see him soon in the forefront of the political struggle for change in the 1990s.
I am very touched by the very moving scene at the airport yesterday where DAP leaders, members and supporters from various parts of the country asked me to stay as Secretary-General.
Last night, the DAP Central Executive Committee met on my resignation.
I yield to the unanimous rejection of my resignation by the DAP Central Executive Committee and the nation-wide request of party members, supporters and the people of Penang, Sabah and throughout the country, to continue as DAP Secretary-General..
I have been accused of play-acting. Those who make such an allegation do not understand the nation-wide sense of disappointment and despondency by the people and nation at the opportunity missed on Oct 21 to bring about meaningful political change in the Malaysian political system.
It is of course too much to expect either the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, or the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, to understand the people’s deep-seated aspiration for change in the general elections.
After all, all that Liong Sik and Keng Yaik can think of is how lucky they were on Oct 21 to win in the general elections, for they would have been defeated if not for UMNO’s Malay votes.
DAP’s eight historic breakthrough in the 1990 general elections
In actual fact, apart from the failure to bring about major political change on Oct 21, the DAP and the GAGASAN RAKYAT had achieved eight historic breakthrough in the 1990 General Elections. Namely:
1. DAP had smashed the 33-year pendulum theory of Malaysian elections, which postulated that in the urban areas, the voters will alternate their support between the Opposition and ruling parties with every general elections.
2. DAP had scored a major breakthrough in our 24-year history in having the first DAP Malay MP, Sdr. Ahmad Nor, elected into Parliament. We would have also scored another breakthrough in having the first DAP Kadazan MP elected into Parliament. If not for the sudden change of events in Sabah, with PBS pulling out of Barisan Nasional and joining the GAGASAN RAKYAT, the DAO would have won seven Parliamentary seats in Sabah (retaining our previous four and winning an additional three). The DAP lost all seats however with the sudden change of events in Sabah – and this is one result which still grieves me most.
Barisan Nasional has lost its two-third majority in Penang Assembly
3. DAP had won the most number of State Assembly seats in its 33-year history, with a total of 45 state assembly seats, which is more than MCA and Gerakan combined. In Penang, with 14 seats, the DAP has become the single largest political party, trailed by UMNO with 12 and Gerakan 7. Another historic achievement in Penang is that the Barisan Nasional has lost its two-third majority in the Penang Assembly. In Selangor, DAP had increased its state representation from five to six, and in Johore, from one to three.
4. The DAP has won close to a million votes, which is almost the same as in the 1986 general elections, although this round, because of the formation of GAGASAN RAKYAT, the DAP contested about 15 Parliamentary seats less in Peninsular Malaysia than in 1986. there is one gentlemen in Perak who said that the DAP is losing support because the DAP’s share of total votes cast had fallen from 21 per cent in 1986 to 17.2 per cent. This gentlemen from Perak does not understand politics. If the DAP had contested on its own, as in 1986, contesting in all the seats that we want, the DAP could have won about 25% of the total votes cast in the 1990 general elections.
Barisan Nasional’s has been won a narrow and uncomfortable seven-seat margin to retain two-third majority in Parliament
5. The Barisan Nasional has got its total share of votes slashed from 57.3 per cent in 1986 general elections to 52 per cent in the general elections. Although the Barisan Nasional has regained a two-thirds majority, it is only with a seven-seat margin, as the combined Opposition totals 53 Parliamentary seats. This is a very narrow margin which the Prime Minister, Datuk Sri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, cannot feel comfortable about.
6. In the 1990 general elections, the DAP and the GAGASAN RAKYAT had made electoral appeals based on the political, social and economic interests and right of all Malaysians, avoiding the communal appeals and religious incitements. It is the Barisan Nasional component parties which resorted to communal and religious incitements in their campaign, and it is this communal and religious incitements particularly marred the 10-day election campaign in the final two days, stealing from the people the historic opportunity for meaningful political change in Malaysia. In the 1990 general elections, the Opposition campaigned in a most responsible Malaysian manner. It is the Barisan Nasional parties, whether UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC or SUPP which played the communalist and the religious bigot.
MCA and Gerakan do not represent the Chinese, but UMNO in Federal and State Governments
7. In the 1990 general elections, the MCA and the Gerakan were decisively exposed as political parties which have no political legitimacy on their own, as all their leaders and candidates won because of UMNO’s Malay votes – although they claim to be the legitimate political representatives of the Malaysian Chinese. It is clear now that the MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders in Federal or State Government do not represent the Malaysian Chinese, but the UMNO!
8. For the first time in Malaysia history, the Opposition parties have co-operated to form the GAGASAN RAKYAT and presented the Barisan Nasional with one-to-one contest in most constituencies in the country.
These eight historic breakthrough for the DAP and GAGASAN RAKYAT are no mean achievement in the 1990 general elections.
The DAP will continue to work and help strengthen GAGASAN RAKYAT as an alternative to the Barisan Nasional. This is why the DAP had proposed the Semangat 46 President, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who is also MP for Gua Musang, become the Parliamentary Opposition Leader in the new Parliament.
Despite our setbacks and failure to reach our targets in the 1990 general elections, the DAP most immediately plan and work for the challenges facing the party, the people and the nation in the 1990s.
Although the political situation and circumstances will become even more unfavourable for a full flowering of democratic ideas and institutions in the 1990s, the DAP is committed to a long hard political struggle to save democracy, restore human rights, establish socio-economic justice, fight corruption and build genuine national unity.
Yesterday was an important day for me in two senses. Firstly, on the decision on my resignation as DAP Secretary-General. Secondly, it was the third anniversary for me and 105 others who were detained under Opposition Lalang starting on Oct 27, 1987.
It is a reminder to all DAP leaders, whether MPs, SAs or occupying other ranks, that we are in politics for our beliefs and for the interests and rights of the people, and not for our own personal welfare or well-being.
On this third anniversary of Opposition Lalang, we should be fired by the two resolves: firstly, our preparedness to pay a price for our convictions and in the defense of the rights and interests of the people; and secondly, our reaffirmation to combat undemocratic forces, laws and institutions, like the Internal Security Act, and to mobilies and rally Malaysians for the continuing struggle for democracy, freedom, justice and equity in Malaysia.