Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the Selangor DAP State Dinner at Country Kitchen Restaurant, Petaling Jaya on 29th June 1994 at 8 p.m.
The Election Commission Chairman should emulate the example of the Indian Chief Election
Commissioner and must not be afraid to displease the ruling parties in the discharge of his constitutional duty to ensure that the next general elections is fair and free
Since Merdeka in 1957, the Election Commission has defined its constitutional mandate on the conduct of general elections in its narrowest terms, limiting its duties and responsibilities to that of preparing the electoral register of voters, and general elections arrangements like the nomination of candidates, the polling day voting and counting and the announcement of the general elections results.
For the past 37 years, the Election Commission has closed its eyes to the most blatant electoral abuses, like vote-buying, money politics and one-sided mass media treatment especially on electronic media, which made the general elections most unfair and unfree.
When these electoral abuses are drawn to its attention, the Election Commission would shrug its shoulders and said it was helpless to check or combat electoral abuses.
Only recently, the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, had told the press that the Election Commission could do nothing about unfair mass media treatment of the Opposition during general elections – that if Opposition parties want fair and equal mass media access in general elections, they must get the Government to agree to enact the necessary legislation in Parliament.
This is a wrong and irresponsible attitude for the Election Commission Chairman to take, for it tantamounts to the Election Commission abdicating from its constitutional mandate to conduct fair and free general elections.
I call on the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, to emulate the example of the Indian Chief Election Commissioner, T. N. Seshan, who had even antagonised the governing Congress Government of Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, in his mission to clean up the Indian electoral system to ensure free and fair elections.
Seshan had denied ruling parties in several state governments in India unfair advantages they had always enjoyed, especially the misuse and abuses of government powers, facilities and staff for improper partisan ends, as in postponing elections or withholding results when there is gross abuses of the electoral process.
I have no doubt that the widespread Opposition complaints about gross abuses of the present postal ballot system could be easily resolved by an Election Commission which is serious about its constitutional mandate to conduct free and fair general elections.
At present Opposition parties and their candidates are not allowed to send election agents to monitor the casting of postal ballots – which makes a mockery of the entire concept of fair and free general elections.
The argument that Opposition parties are not allowed into security establishments to monitor the casting of postal ballots by army or police personnel is completely unacceptable, for nothing could be more paramount to national interests than ensuring that general elections are fair and free.
An Election Commission which is fully conscious of its constitutional mandate to conduct free and fair general elections would draw up election regulations which would specify that Opposition parties and their candidates must be allowed to be represented by their election agents to monitor the casting of postal ballots.
Postal ballots cast in defence and police establishments where Opposition parties and candidates are not allowed to send in their election agents to monitor the voting process would be disqualifed, as failing to meet the requirements of a free and fair general elections.
If the Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Harun Din, dares to assert his authority and responsibility under the Malaysian Constitution by making such postal ballot regulations, the whole problem about the blatant abuses of unmonitored casting of postal ballots would be resolved overnight.
DAP calls on UMNO leadership to prove it is sincere and serious about wanting to abolish money politics by declaring that it will sack UMNO candidates in the next general elections who violate the maximum election expenditure permitted by law, i.e. RM50,000 for Parliamentary and RM30,000 for State Assembly candidate
Recently, UMNO held a Special General Assembly to amend its party constitution to combat money politics in the party.
UMNO cannot be sincere and serious about wanting to root out money politics in UMNO when UMNO leaders in Government are not prepared to take firm and far-reaching measures to root out money politics in general particularly during general elections.
DAP calls on the UMNO leadership to prove it is sincere and serious about wanting to abolish money politics by declaring that it will sack UMNO candidates in the next general elections who violate the maximum election expenditure permitted by law, i.e. RM50,000 for a Parliamentary candidate and RM30,000 for a State Assembly candidate.
The present MCA leadership is the result of the most scandalous money-politics in MCA history in the power struggle between the Neo Yee Pan and Tan Koon Swan factions
At the UMNO Special General Assembly, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri .Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, challenged Opposition parties to follow UMNO and amend their party constitutions to outlaw money politics.
What is noteworthy is that Dr. Mahathir did not challenge the other Barisan Nasional component parties to amend their party constitutions to outlaw money politics.
The initial reaction of MCA leaders like the MCA Secretary-General, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Pen, was that MCA need not amend its party constitution as there was no money politics in MCA – as if corruption, abuses of power and vote-buying only happen in UMNO and never in MCA!
In actual fact, the present MCA leadership is the result of the most scandalous ‘money polities’ in MCA history!
It is an open secret and now history that the former MCA President, Tan Koon Swan, was the greatest practitioner of ‘money polities’, not only in MCA but probably in the entire Barisan Nasional, especially during the MCA power struggle between his faction and that of Neo Yee Pan between 1984-86. The victory of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction over the Neo Yee Pan faction was nothing but a victory of ‘money polities’!
This was why in 1986, MCA leaders went to the Subang International Airport to give Tan Koon Swan a ‘hero’s welcome’ after he was first arrested and charged in Singapore for criminal breaches of trust-because the MCA leaders knew that they owed their positions in MCA and government to Koon Swan’s ‘money politics’!
I would advise the MCA Ministers and leaders therefore not to pretend that unlike UMNO, all are ‘saints’ in MCA and that there is no need to combat money politics in MCA!
DAP calls for an All-Party Conference to follow upon the UMNO constitution amendment to wipe out money politics in general elections
If the UMNO leaders are sincere in wanting to eliminate money politics, then they should be sincere in wanting to eliminate money politics in general elections in the country.
If UMNO leaders are prepared to admit that money politics in UMNO ends in corruption, why are they not prepared to admit the even more serious problem money politics in general elections – which corrupted the will of the electorate?
As the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is on a two-week overseas leave, I call on the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to follow up on the UMNO Constitution amendment by calling for an All-Party Conference to wipe out money politics in general elections.
This All-Party Conference should be held immediately so that its proposals to curb money politics in general elections could be framed in legislative form to be submitted and adopted by Parliament before the end of its July meeting.
This timing is important as the next general elections are expected to be held soon, in the next few months or latest by early next year and such legislation to eliminate money politics in general elections must be in place before Parliament is dissolved.