Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Dap Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP National Leadership Conference on “Themes and Challenges of the next General Elections” held at Hotel Furama, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, April 10, 1994 at 10 a.m.
Warning that the DAP will not have any safe seat and that parliamentary constituencies which the DAP had won with massive majorities of 22, 000 votes or more could be lost on the next general elections.
Although party leaders have warned that the next general elections wll the most difficult and challenging one in party history, and that the DAP can do very badly, this message has not been fully accepted in the party, and there are those who do not believe that the next general elections could be so bad for the DAP. Or they believe that the DAP could fare badly in other states but not in their areas.
We should learn from the lessons from the DAP debacle in the 1982 general elections and take serious heed of the warning that the DAP will not have any safe seat in the next General elections.
In the 1982 general elections, the DAP was not only slashed to six parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia, but huge majorities which DAP won in the 1978 general elections were turned in to Barisan Nasional majorities instead.
For instance, in 1982, DAP lost the Ipoh parliamentary seat by 5, 322 votes although in the 1978 general elections, we won it with a huge majority of 12, 909 votes. In Menglembu, DAP lost the seat with 2, 777 votes although in 1978, we had a majority of 12, 770 votes. In Petaling parliamentary constituency, the Dap majority of 16, 754 votes in the 1978 general elections was turned into a 5, 274 Barisan Nasional majority in 1982.
The 1982 general elections debacle of the DAP must be a lesson and warning that constituencies which we have won with over 22, 000-vote majorities could be lost!
In the 1990 general elections, Dap won three parliamentary constituencies with over 22, 000-vote majorities- all in the Federal Territory- and five parliamentary constituencies with over 10, 000-vote majorities. We most regard these seats as impregnable.
Joseph Pairin Kitingan was supremely confident that he would not only win the Sabah state general elections in February this year, but would win a comfortable two-thirds majority in the Sabah Assembly. Pairin is now paying the price the price for such over-confidence.
During my recent visit to Sabah, I was told that some Chinese voters had voted for the Barisan Nasional because it never occurred to them that the PBS Government could be toppled at the polls. If there was such a possibility, then they would not have given their vote to the Barisan Nasional.
It is important that the entire DAP should realize the onerous conditions under which the DAP will be fighting the next general elections- not that the Party should be gripped by despair but to be better prepared to successfully overcome this greatest test in party history.
It is not only the party which must must face up to the possibility that the next general elections could be the worst-ever for the DAP, but also the DAP voters and the general public.
If the million voters who had consistently supported the Dap’s political struggle in the past two decades for a more just and equal Malaysia decide through an informed process that there is no more room or role for the DAP in Malaysia, we are prepared to accept the verdict of the people.
However, it would be a different preposition if the people are misled by the Barisan Nasional through denial of access of information and mass media manipulation into a false consciousness and belief that there are no more problems in Malaysia.
Is it true that there are no more problems in Malaysia?
The Barisan Nasional Government has been no successful in creating a false consciousness among the people that its latest operating is to make Malaysians believe that Bank Negara’s foreign exchange losses is a small matter. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has even said that these forex losses are from profits made by Bank Negara in preceding years!
It is clear that the Barisan Nasional leaders want the people to regard the Bank Negara forex losses as a closed chapter now that the former Bank Negara Governor, Tan Sri Jaffar Hussein has resigned to accept responsibility and a new Governor appointed in his place.
In actual fact, the colossal Bank Negara forex losses cannot end here, for the people are entitled to know how Bank Negara could incur such huge forex losses in two years as to total some RM20 billion.
Anwar should agree to a special parliamentary debate on Bank Negara’s forex losses on Tuesday to explain why he misled Parliament last July in claiming that Bank Negara had not made any further forex losses.
Anwar Ibrahim said that he had directed Bank Negara to stop forward foreign exchange trading when he discovered its forex losses 18 months ago. If Bank Negara had followed his instructions to stop forward forex trading in 1992, then how could Bank Negara suffer Rm5.7 billion losses in 1993, on top of the RM10 billion to RM14 billion losses in 1992?
Furthermore, Anwar Ibrahim had misled Parliament last July when I questioned him whether Bank Negara had suffered more forex losses. Anwar said that this was not true as he had been monitoring the Bank Negara’s forex dealings weekly.
DAP will move a special motion in Parliament next Tuesday, and I call on Anwar Ibrahim to agree to a special debate on Bank Negara’s forex losses to explain why he misled Parliament last July in claiming that Bank Negara had not made any further forex losses.
Instead of feeling downcast because the next general elections would be the most difficult one in DAP history, we should be encouraged and even inspired in our political struggle because past of the present political problems we face is the result of our success.
DAP is beginning to see some of the fruits of our political struggle after more than two decades, as in the minor and limited liberalisations of the Barisan Nasional government in certain educational and economic measures.
The UMNO leadership had to embark on these minor liberalisation measures when the DAP confound the Barisan Nasional by maintain our electoral support in the 1990 general elections.
The failure of the pendulum theory in urban electoral voting in the 1990 general elections made the UMNO leaders realize that they have to compete with the DAP for the hearts and minds the urban electorate. UMNO leaders could not depend on either MCA or Gerakan, for they did not understand the legitimate aspirations of the urban voters, and this was why MCA had to commission consultants to find out why the Chinese rejected MCA candidates in the 1990 general elections.
While we welcome these minor and limited liberalisations, we want major liberalisations of the entire nation-building policy covering political, economic, educatioanal, cultural, social, religious and other aspects.
The major liberalisations of nation-building policies in the country must be the new phase and objective of DAP political struggle.
The struggle for the major liberalisations of nation-building policy must be the new phase and objective of the DAP political struggle.
We must convince the people that if the DAP suffers a debacle in the next general elections, it would endanger the whole struggle for major liberalisations of nation-building politicies in the country.
The lessons of the 1982 general elections debacle for the DAP is very clear- that when the MCA and Gerakan gains at the expense of the DAP, the rights of the people suffer the greatest threat. This is one of the political paradoxes. in Malaysia.
The MCA and Gerakan are completely irrelevant to the nation-building process, as they have long been ousted from the mainstream of major decision- making.
Just as they have not contributed to the minor liberalisation process, they dare not contribute to the struggle for major liberalisation of the entore nation-building process.
This is the message that we must take to the people throughout the country.