Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang to the DAP State Leadership Conference in Malacca on Sunday, June 19, 1994 at 12 noon on next month’s Voters’ Registration Exercise
If next month, UMNO succeeds in registering the overwhelming majority of its 400,000 members who have not be registered as voters, then Mahathir will be tempted to delay general elections until early next year
Next month, the Election Commission will be conducting a 21-day voters’ registration exercise from July 11 to 31.
If general elections is held this year, anytime from August to October, those who registered as voters next month would not be able to cast their votes in the next general elections.
If we are convinced that general elections would be held in the next few months this year, then DAP should not waste its time on the voters’ registration exercise’ next month as those who register next month cannot vote in the next few months.
However, it would be great mistake for anyone to write off the possibility of general elections next year.
At this moment of time, I would say that the possibility of dissolution of Parliament and the holding of general elections this year is very high, and if this is the case, the most likely month when general elections would be held should be October.
I also believe that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has not made up his mind – or to use his own words, has not got the ‘inspiration’ – as to when to hold general elections.
Talk by MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, suggesting that he knows when the general elections would be held are just ’empty bombast’ – for I might know about the general elections date when Mahathir has decided even earlier than Liong Sik!
If Mahathir has decided that general elections would be held this year sometime between August and October, then the Election Commission would not be conducting a 21-day voters’ registration exercise next month and UMNO leaders would not be so concerned about registering 400,000 UMNO members who have not registered as voters.
If the DAP ignores the voters’ registration exercise next month, while UMNO goes all out to register the 400,000 UMNO members who are not registered as voters, then this could be an important factor to tempt Mahathir to delay general elections till early next year.
If UMNO registers 400,000 new voters next month and distribute them in key strategic constitutuencies, UMNO could influence election results
In the 1990 general elections, UMNO lost eight parliamentary seats to Semangat 46 and seven parliamentary seats to PAS in Kelantan and Trengganu.
In Kelantan, the UMNO lost by very large majorities ranging from 6,777 to 17,447 votes. In Trengganu, the UMNO lost by smaller majorities. In the Marang parliamentary constituency in Trengganu for instance, the PAS Deputy President, Haji Abdul Hadi bin Haji Awang, won with a narrow majority of 350 votes.
If in the voters’ registration exercise next month, UMNO succeeds in registering 400,000 of its members whose names are not yet on the electoral register, and distribute 10,000 of these new voters in certain ‘key and strategic’ constituencies, UMNO can not only influence the outcome of general election results in many constituencies which it lost in the 1990 general elections – but also in many other constituencies, including constituencies which were won by the DAP in the last general elections.
For this reason, DAP in all states and all levels, must take a very serious attitude towards the voters’ registration exercise by the Election Commission next month. They should ensure that every eligible voter who have reached the age of 21 years next month, register themselves on the electoral roll so that they could cast their votes in the next general elections.
This is also why the DAP leadership has directed all DAP State Committees and branches to launch an all-out campaign during the 21-day voters’ registration exercise by the Election Commission, with a two-prong objective:
* Firstly, to register the maximum number of eligible voters so that if general elections is held next year, they could cast their vote to help determine Malaysia’s future; and
* Secondly, in case general elections are held this year, to use the voters’ registration exercise as a trial run for the next general elections to explain to the people the importance of the next general elections, and in particular the difference between the ‘major and full liberalisation’ advocated by the DAP and the ‘minor and limited liberalisations’ practised by the Barisan Nasional Government in the past few years.
To emphasise the importance of the voters’ registration exercise next month as a trial run for the DAP for the next general elections, I will be visiting all states starting with Malacca today to review the plans and preparations which had been drawn up for this programme.