Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP pre-Prai by-election meeting held at Kami Restaurant, Chai Leng Park, Bagan on Sunday, July 7, 1991 at 9.30 a.m.
DAP announces Sdr. Karpal Singh as its candidate in the Prai by-election
The DAP is a reluctant party in the Prai by-election, for if it were a question of our personal wishes, the DAP leaders would prefer not to have a by-election in Prai.
We know for instance that we would have a very uphill battle in the by-election to face the 3M onslaught of both the Barisan Nasional Penang State Government and the Federal Government, namely their politics of money, mobilisation of government machinery and manipulation of the media.
Malaysians have seen in the October general elections the awesome power of the Barisan Nasional control of the 3M, namely money, machinery and media, which enabled it to turn the tide in their favour in the last two days of the campaign with the dishonest and dishonourable lie that the Semangat 46 President, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had sold out the Malay race and betrayed the Islamic faith by falsely accusing him of wearing a Christian cross during his visit to Sabah.
Otherwise, even if the Barisan Nasional government had not fallen, it would definitely have lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in Parliament for the first time in Malaysian history and Malaysian politics will never be the same again.
In the general elections, the Barisan Nasional had to look after 180 parliamentary and 351 state constituencies with many of their leaders fighting for their political lives
In the general elections, the Barisan Nasional had to look after 180 Parliamentary constituencies in Malaysia and 351 State Assembly constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia with many Barisan Nasional national and state leaders fighting for their own political lives.
In the 12-day Prai by-election from 15 – 27, the entire Barisan Nasional leadership and machinery , both of the Federal and State government, would be concentrated in one area in Prai. In fact, Barisan Nasional national and state leaders are already beginning to park themselves in Prai even before nomination day.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba,and virtually the entire Cabinet led by Ministers like MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, as well as top UMNO leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Datuk Abdullah Badawi and many others will be making Prai their base of operation during the by-election.
This is why the DAP will be fighting under impossible odds in the Prai by-election.
Furthermore, in the Prai by-election, the DAP will have the added disadvantage of not being able to have the assistance of the national mood in a general elections.
In the October general elections, the DAP won the Prai seat with the narrowest majority of 355 votes. It will take the DAP a herculean task to retain the Prai seat in a by-election.
The DAP is different from the Barisan Nasional parties
When the DAP Central Executive Committee decided on 14th June to have a Prai by-election, we knew that we could lose the Prai seat in a by-election.
Why didn’t the DAP Central Executive Committee, knowing the risk of losing the Prai seat in a by-election, take the safest way out by rejecting the resignation of S. Asamaley as Assemblyman for Prai?
The answer is very simple and straightforward. The DAP is completely different from the Barisan Nasional! There have been endless instances of Barisan Nasional leaders, whether at national or state level, involved in the most serious political, financial and moral scandals, but who refuse to accept the principle of political responsibility and accountability and continue to hold on to public office.
There was one Barisan Nasional MP who was convicted and jailed for criminal breach of trust but who refused to relinquish his parliamentary seat. There was another Barisan Nasional MP who resigned from the government appointment for his involvement in a major scandal but hanged on to his parliamentary seat.
Even now, there is one Mentri Besar who is involved in a $71 million ammunition depot scandal but who refused to admit any responsibility whatsoever.
But S. Asamaley, DAP’s former Assemblyman for Prai, is different from the Barisan Nasional leaders just as the DAP is different from all the Barisan Nasional component parties.
What happened to S. Asamaley was a great personal tragedy, and I have no doubt that he would have resolved his marital problems if a newspaper report had not precipitated the suicide of his wife.
S. Asamaley commendably accepted responsibility for the unexpected and unfortunate turn of events and tendered his resignation to avoid embarrassment to the Party.
Win by DAP in Prai by election will be victory for the forces of political morality, integrity, responsibility and accountability
The DAP leadership would have rejected S. Asamaley’s resignation if the deciding factors were our personal sympathies for Asamaley especially as he is very loyal to the Party and acknowledge as a very hard-working Assemblyman; or the question of whether we could win or lose Prai in a by-election.
But the DAP leadership did not allow these considerations to influence our decision.
Regardless of whether we win or lose in Prai by-election, the DAP leadership wants its decision to set up a healthy precedent in Malaysians politics where political leaders would accept greater responsibility and accountability for their actions.
We know that the Barisan Nasional leaders are afraid of this precedent that the DAP wants to set, and this is the additional reason why the Barisan Nasional wants to defeat the DAP in the Prai by-election so that this lesson would be lost completely – and Barisan Nasional leaders would not have to be held to account even if they are involved in the most unthinkable political, financial and moral scandals.
The victory of the DAP in Prai would be the victory of the forces of political morality, integrity, responsibility and accountability – and Malaysians will henceforth demand higher standards from their political leaders and take a stronger stand against their involvement in political, financial and moral scandals.
The defeat of the DAP and victory of the Barisan Nasional will be a grave setback for the movement for political morality, integrity, responsibility and accountability, and give Barisan Nasional leaders encouragement that they could be involved in political, financial and moral scandals with impunity.
This is why the Barisan Nasional, both the Federal and State Government, would spare no expenses to defeat the DAP in the Prai by-election.
The 14,000 votes in Prai will personally experience the Barisan Nasional’s special brand of politics of money – which will be even more potent that its politics of money in the general elections – where the Barisan Nasional would use the tax-payers’ money to buy the votes of the people.
In the Pengkalan Kota by-election in November 1980, the Barisan Nasional used the politics of money, spending several millions of ringgit, to defeat the DAP.
The stakes in the Prai by-election are very much higher for the Barisan Nasional and what it spent in the Pengkalan Kota by-election would be chickenfeed compared to what it would spend in the Prai by-election.
The Barisan Nasional is preparing to spend $50 million or $3,500 per voter in the Prai by-election
I understand that the Barisan Nasional, including the Federal and State Governments, and all the Barisan Nasional component parties, is preparing to spend about $50 million, working out to about $3,500 for each voter for the 14,000 voters in the constituency, in the Prai by-election.
In the Pengkalan Kota by-election eleven years ago, the three Chinese primary schools in the constituency were given $600,000. This time, the two Chinese primary schools in Prai, i.e. SRJK (C) Chung Hwa (2) and (3) should get over a million ringgit of grants each, the Prai Tamil primary school at least half a million ringgit, and the two national primary schools also over a million ringgit.
In the October general elections, Datuk Samy Vellu promised Chai Leng Park $700,000 to make the area as pretty as Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur. He even promised to visit the area once a month and told the residents that if he did not fulfil his pledges, they could cut off his head!
To save his head this time, Datuk Samy Vellu could easily promise several million ringgits to Chai Leng Park to make it the second Lake Garden in Malaysia.
There will also be multi-billion ringgit promises to re-house the squatters, to resolve the long-standing drainage and flood problems, to provide water supplies and basic infrastructure facilities that should have been provided in the 1970s.
The problem however is that even if the Barisan Nasional is going to spend $50 million in the Prai by-election, there is no guarantee that all the money will reach the hands of the voters. From past experience, the “leakage” of such election expenditures is very high, and could even reach as high as 75 to 80 per cent. In other words, out of every $100 spent in a by-election or in the general elections, $75 to $80 would be pocketed by somebody.
This is a measure of the uphill battle the DAP will have to face in the Prai by-election.
The Prai by-election however is a very important political test as to whether political morality, integrity, responsibility and accountability means anything at all in Malaysian politics.
Although I am not confident that the DAP can win the Prai by-election in the face of the 3M onslaught of the Barisan Nasional, the DAP is determined to do our utmost to defend the Prai seat.
It is also for this reason that the DAP will be fielding our strongest candidate for the Prai by-election – Penang DAP State Chairman, Sdr. Karpal Singh.
Just as the DAP is a reluctant party in the Prai by-election, Sdr. Karpal Singh is a reluctant candidate in the by-election. Given a choice, he would prefer not to be the candidate.
However, we all have a larger cause to serve in this by-election, regardless of our personal feelings and preferences./
Sdr. Karpal Singh needs no introduction, for his political courage, dedication and sacrifice is a household word not only in Penang but throughout the country.
I urge the people of Prai to give full support to Sdr. Karpal Singh as the DAP candidate in the Prai by-election and to put Prai in the political history books as the first constituency in Malaysia which declared clearly and loudly that the people expect political leaders to have political morality, integrity, responsibility and accountability.