by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, January 12, 1995:
DAP pledges that it would exercise restraint during general elections campaign but want the Police to be fair and not stifle democracy as continuing the ban on public rallies
The DAP pledges that we would exercise restraint during general elections campaign to ensure peace, as the purpose of the DAP’s general elections participation is not to wreck peace and order but to have an opportunity to win popular support for our policies and programmes through the democratic process.
This will be my response to the call by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor who called on political parties to exercise restraint during general elections campaign.
The Police should be mindful that it has a responsibility to be fair and not to stifle democracy in the general elections campaign, as in continuing the ban on public rallies.
There can be no good security or public order reason for the police continuing its ban on public rallies, especially as public rallies had been allowed after the restoration of political activities in 1971 after the May 13 Incident, and no untoward incident had happened as a result of public rallies between 1971 to 1978.
The ban on public rallies was imposed specifically because the Police wanted to go on a nation-wide alert in anticipation of the 30th anniversary of the armed struggle of the Malayan Communist Party in August 1978, and was meant to last for only three months from June to August 1978.
In the event, the ban in 1978 proved completely unnecessary as there was no incident during the 30th anniversary of the armed struggle of the Malayan Communist Party, but the ban had been continued for 17 years although six years ago, the Malayan Communist Party had laid down their arms in the Haadyai Agreement concluded with the Malaysian Government in December 1989, and many well-known CPM leaders had returned home.
The ban on public rallies has proved very convenient and even advantageous to the Barisan Nasional parties, although it constitute a grave violation of the democratic right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly of Malaysians.
Call on Police to review and repeal all undemocratic laws, regulations and rules to keep abreast with the aspirations of Malaysians for a more open, liberal and democratic society
It is no business of the Police however to help the ruling parties to gain unfair advantage by continuing with such undemocratic and outdated ban on public rallies.
Political parties have a duty to exercise restraint during the general elections campaign, but the Police have also a duty to ensure that they remove all undemocratic restraints on a ‘free, fair and clean’ general elections – and the most conspicuous of such undemocratic restraints is the continued ban on public rallies.
Even the Election Commission has publicly called for the lifting of the ban on public rallies and for free and fair access to the mass media including the electronic media of radio and television, to all contesting political parties in the general elections so as to have a ‘fair, free and clean’ general elections.
How can the Police claim to be non-partisan, above politics and mindful of promoting the democratic culture in Malaysia, if it could allow the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers to hold public rallies while banning Opposition political leaders from enjoying the same facilities?
To ensure that the Police does not become one of the major causes why general elections in Malaysia is not recognised nationally and internationally as ‘fair, free and clean’, the Police should review and repeal all undemocratic laws, regulation and rules before the next general elections and ensure that the Police keep abreast with the aspiration of Malaysians for a more open, liberal and democratic society.