Speech by Penang Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Assemblyman for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on the 1993 Budget on Tuesday, December 8, 1992
Who gave Dr. Koh Tsu Koon the authority to edit Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020 as to remove the important component of political and democratic development for Malaysians in the year 2020?
The people of Penang are disappointed by the weak and spineless stand of the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon in the Penang State Assembly yesterday that although the State Government would make a representation to the Election Commission, it would not object to the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional redelineation of electoral constituencies, particularly the constitutional scandal of the Election Commission completing its review of the electoral constituencies not only for the 11 Parliamentary and 33 State Assembly constituencies in Penang but for all 165 Parliamentary constituencies and 452 State Assembly constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah in a matter of 24 hours!
In presenting the 1993 Budget, Dr. Koh said that this was the first budget under the Strategic Plan to take Penang into the 21st Century.
Although the ‘Penang Into the 21st Century’ Strategic Plan was proclaimed as in pursuance of the Vision 2020 of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, it is significant that the Vision of Penang Into the 21st Century is much more narrower and Limited than Vision 2020.
Thus Chapter II of the Penang Strategic Plan, which sets on the vision for taking Penang into the 21st century declared:
“In line with the nation’s Vision 2020, Penang will be fully developed not only economically but also in all other ways – in terms of social equity and economic justice, quality of life, social integration and stability as well as in cultural, ethical, spiritual and psychological development.”
When I read this, I felt that there was something missing in this paraphrase of the Vision 2020 as spelt out by Dr. Mahathir in his working paper entitled “Malaysia: The Way Forward” presented to the inaugural meeting of the Malaysian Business Council on February 28, 1991.
I had wanted to refer to Dr. Mahathir’s working paper on Vision 2020, but found this to be unnecessary as the Penang Strategic Plan had reproduced in a box the Prime Minister’s Vision 2020.
Thus, in ‘Box 1: On Vision 2020’ in Chapter II (page 9) of the ‘Penang Into the 21st Century’, Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020 in his working paper was reproduced as follows:
“Hopefully, the Malaysian who is born today and in the years to come will be the last generation of our citizens who will be living in a country that is called ‘developing’. The ultimate objective that we must aim for is a Malaysia that is fully developed by the year 2020.
“Malaysians should not be developed only in the economic sense. It must be a nation that is fully developed along all the dimensions: economically, socially, spiritually, psychologically and culturally. We must be fully developed in terms of social cohesion, in terms of our economy, in terms of social justice, political stability, system of government, quality of life, social and spiritual values, national pride and confidence.
“By the year 2020, Malaysia can be a united nation, with a confident Malaysian society, infused by a strong moral and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient.”
As I still felt that there was something missing in this quotation of Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020, I checked the working paper, and found that there was a major omission in he second paragraph, where Dr. Mahathir said that Malaysia in 2020 should not be developed only in the economic sense, but along all the dimensions.
In Dr. Mahathir’s original working paper, Malaysia must be fully developed in 2020 “economically, politically, socially, spiritually, psychologically and culturally”, but Dr. Koh Tsu Koon’s Strategic Plan for ‘Penang Into the 21s Century’ had deleted the reference to political development completely.
Who gave Dr. Koh Tsu Koon the authority to edit Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020 as to remove the important component of political and democratic development for Malaysians in the year 2020?
I do not think anyone would believe that Dr. Koh would have the courage to edit Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020, when he is not even the master of his own house in the State Government of Penang.
This important omission could only mean that Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020 has actually two facets. Firstly, there is the facet meant for the public and publicists, about creating a united Bangsa Malaysia in a fully developed Malaysia in 2020 in all dimensions – economic, political, social, spiritual, psychological and cultural – but which is not taken seriously by the UMNO leaders.
The other facet of Vision 2020, which is its hidden but real agenda, is that it is a wily political instrument by UMNO to win over the people so that it could consolidate power although it is not serious about the high-sounding sentiments of creating a Bangsa Malaysia in the year 2020 where all Malaysians are fully developed in all dimensions, whether economic, political, social, spiritual, psychological or cultural.
Election Commission’s recommendation clearly designed to deny full political development in Penang and against the proclaimed Vision 2020
It is meaningless to talk about Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation, when year after year, we move in the opposite direction of the nine strategic challenges which Dr. Mahathir admitted must be overcome if Vision 2020 is to be realized.
What type of ‘ full political development’ do we envisage when the Election Committee is allowed to act unfairly, undemocratically and even unconstitutional when carrying out its important constitutional mandate to review the redelineation of electoral constituencies in Penang as well as the whole country?
Is Dr. Koh Tsu Koon so afraid of full political development in Penang that he has even edited away the reference of the important component political development in Dr. Mahathir’s Vision 2020?
The Election Commission’s recommendations on the new redelineation of electoral constituencies of the 11 Parliamentary and 33 State Assembly seats in Penang are clearly designed to deny full political development in Penang and against the proclaimed Vision 2020.
Five reasons why the Penang State Government should protest against the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional redelineation of the electoral constituencies in Penang by the Election Commission
If the Penang State Government fully subscribes to the Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation in all dimensions, including politically, then it must take a clear cut – stand against the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional review of the redelineation of the 11 Parliamentary and 33 State Assembly constituencies in Penang, for the following five reasons:
Firstly, the Election Comission had acted unfairly and undemocratically in violating the democratic principle of ‘one man, on vote’ in its review. Penang is the most urbanised state and should have the lowest rural weightage in he whole Peninsular Malaysia.
However, it is recommending a rural weightage of 250 percent, with Sungai Dua having 10,006 voters while Air Itam has 25,043 – a rural weightage which is even higher than states like Johore, Trengganu, Negri Sembilan and Perlis which have big rural areas.
Dr. Koh has said that the State Government is of the view that the urban voter population per constituency on the island should be between 20,000 to 22,000 while the rural voter population per constituency on the mainland should be between10,000 to 14,000, and would make a representation to the Election Commission.
This means that Dr. Koh is advocating a rural weightage of 220 per cent for Penang, which goes against his own stand in the 1984 redelineation of electoral constituencies that there is no rural area in Penang state in the real sense of the word.
If Penang has a rural weightage of 220 per cent, it will be in the same position as Johore, Trengganu and Negri Sembilan, is Dr. Koh Tsu Koon seriously suggesting that Penang’s rural area is comparable to Johore, Trengganu and Negri Sembilan?
Perlis has only rural weightage of only 28 per cent. Being the most urbanized state in Malaysia, the rural weightage for rural constituencies in Penang should not be greater than that of Perlis, and at worst, shold not be more than 50 per cent if the redelineation of the electoral constituencies is fair and democratic.
DAP will adopt two measures to oppose the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional redelineation of the electoral constituencies by the Election Commission: firstly to challenge its legality and constitutionality in the courts and secondly, to organise the people to exercise their constitutional right of objection and to demand public inquiry
The second reason why the Penang State Government should make a strong objection to the Election Commission is the unconstitutional manner in which it had conducted its review.
As the Penang State Government’s proposal to increase three additional state assembly seats was rejected in the Penang State Assembly emergency meeting on November 2 when it failed to get the necessary two-third majority, this means that in conducting its review, the Election Commission was acting under Article 113(2) of the Federal Constitution.
Under Article 113(2), the Election Commission has to observe the constitutional prohibition whereby it could not begin any review until there is a lapse of at least eight years fro the previous review – which is November 8, 1992.
However, by November 10, 1992, the Election Commission had already finalised the boundaries for the delimitation of all the parliamentary and state assembly constituencies not only in Penang, but the whole country except Sarawak, and I have evidence to prove that the recommendations were all signed and sealed on November 10.
As November 8, 1992 is a Sunday, this could only mean that either the Election Commission had completed its review, not only of the 11 Parliamentary and 33 State Assembly constituencies in Penang, but of all the 165 Parliamentary constituencies and 452 State Assembly constituencies in the whole country except for Sarawak in a matter of 24 hours; or that the Election Commission had acted unconstitutionally in conducting its review before it was constitutionally permitted to do so.
The Penang State Government should probably recommend that the Election Commission should go into the Guinness Book of Records in completing its review of 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly constituencies in a matter of 24 hours – but everybody knows that this is impossible.
In the circumstances, any reasonable man would conclude that the Election Commission had not only acted unconstitutionally, but was acting without independence, both with regard to the recommendations of the redelineation, but also the time-frame of the review in disregarding the constitutional provisions and accepting political deadline instead to complete the review latest by the end of next year.
The third reason why the Penang State Government must send a strong protest to the Election Commission is that it had been misled into summoning an emergency meeting on November 2 to amend the Penang State Constitution to increase three state assembly seats.
As Dr. Koh Tsu Koon told the State Assembly during question time yesterday, he was advised in October that the Penang State Government would have to table an Amendment Bill to the State Constitution so that changes to parliamentary and state assembly constituencies could be made concurrently.
However, events have proved that the Election Commission had no intention of waiting for the various State Constitution Amendment Bills to become law before it reviewed the electoral constituencies, for when the Election Commission signed and sealed the recommendations for the new redelineation of electoral constituencies, the State Constitution Amendment Bills of Kedah, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johore had not yet become law – as not having been given the Royal Assent or been gazette.
There is also a fourth reason why the State Government, if it is earnest about full development of Penang of Malaysia and Vision 2020, should strongly object to the Election Commission’s recommendations. This is the manner in which the Election Commission had gerrymandered with the electoral constituency redelineations in Penang without any fair or just rationale.
The electorate of the Tanjong parliamentary constituency, for instance, has been increased from the 1990 general election figure of 60,888 to 62,238.
Probably the Election Commission thinks that the Tanjong parliamentary seat is not safe enough for me, and wants to strengthen it to my advantage. And may be the same goes for the Padang Kota state assembly seat, where the electorate has been increased from 16,941 to 20,251.
I do not know whether I should thank the Election Commission for strengthening the Tanjong parliamentary and Pandang Kota state assembly seats, as well as the Bukit Bendera parliamentary and Air Itam state assembly seats.
If there had been increase of three additional state assembly seats, the Election Commission would have more scope to gerrymander with the constituencies
However, one pattern which emerges from the proposed new redelineation is very clear – on the one hand to strengthen a few DAP parliamentary and state assembly seats with the objective of weakening several other DAP parliamentary and state assembly seats, such as the state assembly seats in Jelutong, Bayan Baru and Bukit Mertajam.
This is of course the political masterplan of UMNO – but when it is accepted by the Election Commission, then it is a violation of its constitutional mandate to act fairly and independently in its review of electoral constituencies.
The gerrymandering with the Penang parliamentary and state assembly constituencies by the Election Commission under the present review is bad.
However, there is no doubt that if there had been an increase of three additional state assembly seats in Penang, the Election Commission, on the directive of its political masters, would have even more scope to gerrymander with the electoral constituencies and cause democracy and full political development as envisaged in Vision 2020 grave and irreparable damage.
Is the new redelineation of the constituencies in Penang in conformity with the UMNO masterplan to preserve and strengthen ‘strategic Malay areas’ in Penang?
The question that must be asked is whether the new redelineation of the electoral constituencies in Penang by the Election Commission is in conformity with the UMNO masterplan to preserve and strengthen ‘strategic Malay areas’ in Penang?
This idea of ‘strategic Malay areas’ in Penang which runs counter to Vision 2020 objective of building a Bangsa Malaysia, is not the DAP’s idea, but a concept publicly announced both by the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, a few months ago, although Dr. Ibrahim Saad announced that this was part of the Penang State Government policy.
If Dr. Ibrahim Saad is right, this is proof that Penang UMNO policy is more influential and powerful than any Penang State Government policy.
The fifth reason why the Penang State Government should lodge the strongest possible objection to the Election Commission is because the Election Commission could rectify its unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional review. This is because under Article 113(2) of the Federal Constitution, the Election Commission has the power to recommend that Penang should have an increase of additional State Assembly seats despite the rejection of the Penang State Constitution Amendment Bill at the emergency State Assembly sitting on November 2.
DAP invites the Penang State Government to join with the DAP to submit a joint representation to the Election Commission to increase eleven state assembly seats and laying down the democratic principles of redelineation
It is for this reason that the DAP had suggested and even invited the Penang State Government to joi the DAP in submitting a joint representation to the Election Commission to increase eleven State Assembly seats and laying down the democratic principles of redelineation in Penang such as:
(1) the upholding of the ‘one – man, one – vote’ principle which means that the Penang island should have six parliamentary and the Penang mainland five parliamentary constituencies – a stand which Dr. Koh Tsu Koon himself took in 1984 but now abandoned because he is no more a free agent;
(2) as Penang is the most urbanized state in the country, the rural weightage for rural constituencies should be the lowest in the country and should not exceed 50 per cent from any other constituency; and
(3) the maintenance of a common ratio of one parliamentary to four state assembly seats in the state.
If the Penang Chief Minister dare not accept the DAP offer to submit a joint government – opposition memorandum to the Election Commission, the State Government should adopt these three principles in its representation to the Election Commission, or it would be failing in its duty to protect the democratic rights and interests of the people of Penang.
In fact, the Election Commission should be required to give reason for every change it is recommending in its present review of the redelineation of electoral constituencies, unless the Election Commission is itself incompetent to give these reasons as the proposals had emanated from a UMNO political masterplan.
The people of Penang are clearly in support of the stand of the 13 Penang DAP Assemblymen in their denial of two-thirds majority at the Penang State Assembly sitting on November 2 to amend the Penang State Constitution to increase three state seats, when there was no proposal for any increase of Parliamentary seats for Penang.
The Election Commission’s unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional redelineation of the constituencies have also made the people of Penang realise that the gerrymandering of the constituencies and denial of their democratic rights would have been even more serious and irreparable if the Election Commission and its political masters have another three additional seats to play with, without having to adhere to fair and democratic principles of constituency redelineation.
This is why the DAP had proposed a referendum or a public debate to ascertain the wishes of the people of Penang with regard to increase of parliamentary and state assembly seats in the state, as well as the principles of their redelineation, if the Penang State Government maintained that it had the people’s support on this issue.
But the Penang Chief Minister is so afraid of these political developments, that he dare not even follow the example of the Deputy Prime Minister and UMNO Deputy President, Ghafar Baba, who challenged PBS Sabah State Government to a public debate on the 20 – Point Agreement.
DAP has decided to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the Election Commission review of the redelineation of the constituencies in court
On Monday, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon said the DAP could take the Election Commission to court if we are not satisfied with its review and recommendations.
I had in fact announced on November 26, the day the Election Commission made public its recommendations, that the DAP would consider challenging the legality and constitutionality of the Election Commission review of the electoral constituencies.
I can announce here that the DAP has decided to challenge the legality and constitutionality of the Election Commission review of the redelineation of the electoral constituencies – in particular in its scandalous completion of the review of 165 Parliamentary and 452 State Assembly constituencies in the whole country except Sarawak – in a matter of 24 hours!
The DAP will adopt two measures to oppose the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional redelineation of the electoral constituencies by the Election Commission: firstly to challenge its legality and constitutionality in the courts and secondly, to organise the people to exercise their constitutional right of objection and to demand public inquiry into the proposed new redelineations.
The question before the State Assembly, however, is what is the State Government doing about the unfair, undemocratic, unconstitutional redelineation by the Election Commission.
The State Government will be abdicating from its responsibility if it just make a weak and spineless representation to the Election Commission and dare not take a strong stand against the unfair, undemocratic and unconstitutional review by the Election Commission, which violate one of the cardinal tenets of Vision 2020 as a fully developed nation.
I therefore invite the Penang State Government to join the DAP in making the legal and constitutional challenge to the Election Commission’s constituency redelineation review in the courts, or alternatively, it should make the legal challenge on its own.
I hope Dr. Koh Tsu Koon will be able to state whether the State Government would consider taking the Election Commission to court itself, to give reasons why not.