Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at a meeting with leaders of DAP branches in the Bukit Mertajam Parliamentary Constituency held in Bukit Mertajam on Wednesday, 3rd February 1994 at 8 p.m.
MCA leaders most disappointing for they dare not even ask the Prime Minister for the rotation of the senior cabinet positions of Finance, Home Affairs, Education, International Trade, Defence and even the post of Deputy Prime Minister among the main communities.
In the last three years, the Barisan Nasional Government has been more liberal in certain educational and economic measures, but this is not because of the MCA or Gerakan, but the result of the struggle of the DAP and support of the people for more just, fair and equal policies for a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysian nation.
In the 1990 general elections, the Barisan Nasional leaders had expected the ‘pendulum theory’ to work in their favour and the DAP to do badly, as the 1986 general elections had been favourable to the DAP when it won 24 Parliamentary seats.
Despite the DAP success in the 1986 general elections, which reflected the deep-seated aspirations of the urban voters for a change in government policies, the Barisan Nasional leaders refused to conduct any policy re-appraisal as they believed that because of the ‘pendulum theory’, the subsequent general elections would work in their favour and there was no need for them to compete with the DAP for voter support.
When the pendulum theory failed in the 1990 general elections, and the MCA leaders proved that they were incapable of regaining the confidence of the Chinese voters, the UMNO leaders realised that they have to make certain policy adjustments to compete with the DAP for the support of the urban electorate.
This is why there has been some liberalisation in certain economic and educational fields in the past three years.
The DAP is proud that as a result of the people’s support for our political struggle, we are beginning to see some results. Many DAP leaders had paid a heavy personal price for this political struggle as losing their personal liberties like the DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Sdr. Chian Heng Kai, who was detained under the Internal Security Act for four years and nine months, while many others are still going through these trials and tribulations like the DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Sdr. Wee Choo Keong.
However, despite our success in securing some liberalisation from the government in certain economic and educational measures, the DAP’s struggle is far from over or complete, as the struggle has still a long way to go.
This is because what the people want are not minor liberalisation of certain economic and educational measures, but a full-scale liberalisation of the political, economic, educational, cultural, social, religious, and other nation-building policies in the country.
Will MCA dare to campaign in the next national general elections under the slogan: “Achieve Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Wish”?
The MCA has become a very irrelevant party in the Barisan Nasional, whether in Government or Cabinet.
Its marginalised political role in the Barisan Nasional is best testified by the fact that although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, had proposed that the Sabah Chief Ministership be rotated among the three major communities in Sabah, the MCA leadership dare not to ask for a more equitable power-sharing arrangement in the Barisan Nasional in the Federal Government.
It is indeed most disappointing, for instance, that MCA leaders dare not even ask the Prime Minister for the rotation of the senior cabinet positions of finance, home affairs, education, international trade, defence or even the post of Deputy Prime Minister.
The MCA Central Publicity Bureau is now asking the Chinese voters in Sabah to support the Barisan Nasional under the slogan: “Achieve the Chinese Chief Minister Wish”. Will the MCA dare to campaign in the next national general elections with the slogan: “Achieve the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Wish”?
Instead of regarding it as a great insult, MCA leaders acted as if they ‘struck a lottery’ when they were told not to field candidates in Sabah with the formation of SAPP.
The irrelevant and completely marginalised role of the MCA could also be seen from the glee of MCA leaders that they do not have to field candidates in the Sabah state general elections.
Instead of regarding as a great insult to the MCA – whose national leaders have been declaring that MCA candidates would capture the predominantly-Chinese state assembly seats – the MCA leaders reacted as if they had ‘struck a lottery’ when told not to contest in the Sabah state general elections.
The reason is simple: MCA national leaders know that if MCA fields candidates in the Sabah state general elections, the question is not whether they could win any seat, but whether all the MCA candidates would lose their deposits. MCA leaders know better than anyone else that there is no way they could win the confidence of the Chinese in Sabah when they could not even win the confidence of the Chinese in Peninsular Malaysia.
Yong Teck Lee’s Sabah Progressive Party had at least become the ‘saviour’ of MCA in Sabah, while whether it could become the ‘saviour’ of UMNO in Sabah is something still to be seen!
Just as the minor liberalisation in certain Barisan Nasional economic and educational measures has nothing to do with the MCA, similarly the MCA cannot be depended if the government is to carry out major liberalisation in all policy aspects of nation-building.
The political role and contribution to ensure that the government should carry out major liberalisation of all nation-building policies is one which can only be played by the DAP and by no other political party.