Challenge to Lim Keng Yaik to a Public debate on his assertion that Malaysia do not need an Opposition

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP function at DAP function at Hotel Wentworth, Kuala Lumpur on May 10, 1994 at 11 am to mark his 25th anniversary as an elected Member of Parliament

Challenge to Lim Keng Yaik to a Public debate on his assertion that Malaysia do not need an Opposition

I do not know whether I should feel very old to be commemorating my 25th anniversary as an elected Member of Parliament in Malaysia.

Looking back to the last quarter of a century, I have no doubt that the DAP had made a significant contribution to the nation-building process through our presence in Parliament and the Malaysian political arena.

There are short-sighted people like the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik who recently said that Malaysia does not need an Opposition as the country’s living standards have risen since Merdeka 1957, and that there is now Vision 2020.

What Keng Yaik does not understand is that Malaysia’s economic position today is not the mere achievement of the Barisan Nasional Government, but also of the Opposition and people. For instance, Malaysians achieved their present economic position because the DAP has 20 MPs – and not because there are no DAP MPs!

There is also another aspect which Keng Yaik has not realised – that Malaysia missed the opportunity to become the first Little Dragon for not adopting the policy measures and proposals of DAP to fully develop the potentials and talents of Malaysians!

It is short-sighted people like Keng Yaik who could say that the people should support Barisan Nasional and reject the Opposition so as to achieve political stability – when an important factor of political stability in Malaysia is the demo¬cratic participation and role of the DAP!

Although Keng Yaik either cannot or does not want to see these simple truths, the people are definitely more intel¬ligent than Keng Yaik in this regard.

If Keng Yaik really believes in what he says, then I challenge him to a series of six public debates in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh, Seremban, Malacca and Johore Bahru on his assertion that Malaysia now does not need an Opposition!

Keng Yaik’s statement must be challenged, as it is not ¬only ludicrous but highly mischievous as it could herald a new era of undemocratic measures by the Barisan Nasional against the Opposition and dissent.

Keng Yaik is not the first Barisan Nasional leader who had made such a ludicrous but mischievous statement.

In the seventies, the Home Minister Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie declared that Opposition in Malaysia was unnecessary and an evil.

As a result of such an attitude, attempts were made to silence the Opposition as in mass Internal Security Act detentions as well as to pass draconian laws to stifle freedom of speech and expression, including the muzzling of the mass media.

Only those who do not have a real understanding of the aspirations of the common people can make such ludicrous statements, and this may be the common factor between Ghazalie Shafie and Lim Keng Yaik.

Ghazalie Shafie, despite his powerful position in government especially during the premiership of Tun Razak, never had grassroot support and this was his greatest failure.

The same applies to Keng Yaik or he would not have scraped through with a 870-vote majority in the 1990 general elections – saved by UMNO’s Malay votes!

Just as the seventies and eighties have proved Ghazalie Shafie to be very wrong when he declared that the Opposition in Malaysia was unnecessary and evil, I have no doubt that the future will also prove Keng Yaik to be equally wrong.

If DAP ceases to exist in next general elections, it will be a great and irreparable to Malaysians; while no Malaysian will feel any loss if Gerakan ceases to exist

In fact, the next general elections could be a test as to whether the country needs the PAP as an opposition in Parlia¬ment. I have no doubt that if in the next general elections, the Gerakan ceases to exist, no Malaysian will feel any loss, However if the DAP ceases to exist after the next general elections, it will be a great and irreparable loss to all Malaysians who are concerned about justice, equality, freedom and nation-¬building in Malaysia!

DAP is a party which fights for basic fundamental rights of all Malaysians well for the long-term interests of the nation and the people.

This is why the DAP has been able to hold our ground in the last 28 years – establishing itself as the second largest political party in the country after UMNO in terms of electoral support in general elections.

The Gerakan like MCA are however are ‘political Parasites’ which cannot stand on their own, but must depend on UMNO not only for their position in Cabinet, Government and Parliament, but even for pure survival. If’ the MCA or the Gerakan, for instance, have to become an Opposition party, it is dubious that either could last 28 months let alone 28 years.