Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the opening of the DAPSY National Conference held at Furuma Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, 10th July 1994 at 10 a.m.
The three possible general elections dates are October this year, January or April next year
Last Sunday, at the DAP National Leadership Conference, I rate the chances of general elections being held in October this year as compared to early next year as 70 to 30.
Although there have been more indications pointing to a possible October general elections this year, I would revise my rating last week and place the chances of general elections in October this year as 60 while raising the chances of general elections next year to 40.
This revised rating does not rule out general elections being held this year, but only means that the chances of general election being held next year are now higher than before. At the present, the three possible general elections dates are October this year, January or April next year.
With 60 per cent possibility of general elections being held this year, and if so most likely in October, DAP general elections machinery must go into top dear to fight the most difficult and challenging general elections in DAP history.
I said last week that I believed that the Prime Ministers, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had not made up his mind whether to call general elections this year or early next year and that he was keeping his options open.
Dr. Mahathir has ordered all Barisan Nasional Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, MPs, Mentri-Mentri Besar, Chief Ministers and State Exco members to a four-day General Elections Motivation Course in Langkawi from July 27 to 30.
I do not think Dr. Mahathir will announce his general elections intentions in Langkawi. The four-day meeting of Barisan Nasional Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries, Mentris Mentris Besar, Chief Ministers and State Exco members could be a preparation either for general elections this year or early next year.
I have no doubt that the 21-day voters’ registration exercise which will be conducted by the Election Commission from tomorrow till July 31 will be strongest factor in influencing Mahathir’s decision as to whether to hold general elections this year or early next year, as UMNO will be going all-out in the next three weeks to register 400,000 new UMNO voters.
There are altogether 900,000 eligible voters who have reached the age of 21 years by tomorrow who have not registered as voters, but UMNO is not interested in all the 900,000 but only in the 400,000 whom it has identified as UMNO members, supporters and voters.
This is why the DAP is launching a nation-wide campaign in the next 21 days to get every eligible voter to register with the Election Commission with the theme: “REGISTER NOW TO DEMAND FOR GREATER CHANCES IN NATION-BUILDING POLICIES’, and the secondary theme: “For The Sake Of Our Future, Register Now!”
The DAP National Voters Registration Committee, headed by National Organising Secretary and MP for Pasir Pinji, Kerk Kim Hock, has printed posters and pamphlets in all four languages which will be distributed throughout the country to explain the themes of the DAP Voters’ Registration Campaign this year.
The greatest challenge before DAPSY today is whether it can mobilize Malaysian youths in the next elections to give full support for the DAP cause to translate the minor and limited liberalizations in government policies in the past three years into major and full liberalization in the nation-building policies to give every Malaysian an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
We concede that as compared to the seventies and eighties, government policies in the past three years are perceived by the people as a bit more open and liberal. These minor and limited liberalizations are the fruits of the DAP’s political struggle in the past 28 years which had received the consistent support of the urban electorate through the past six general elections.
Four examples of ‘Little Liberalisation’ and ‘Big Liberalisation’
However, the DAP and the people are not satisfied with these minor and limited liberalizations, as what we want are make Malaysia a united, equal, just, free and prosperous Malaysia where all Malaysians regardless of race, languages, culture and religions which have mad Malaysia their home are fully recognize and respected as an integral part of the Malaysian identity.
I will give four examples of the differences between the ‘Little liberalisation’ of the last three years and the ‘Big Liberalisation’ which must be the political goal of the DAP and DAPSY.
1. In the ‘Little Liberalisation’ of Barisan Nasional in the past three years, there was no Operation Lalang as happened in 1987 where there was a mass arrest of Opposition leaders, government critics, trade unionists, environmentalists, religious and social activists. However, the Internal Security Act remains the law of the country and the government can invoke it anytime to launch ISA mass arrests – bigger than Operation Lalang.
This is why we want to have a ‘Big Liberalisation’ – where detention without trial laws are repealed and the government cannot arrest and detain opposition leaders, government critics, trade unionists, environmentalists, religious and social activists on trumped-up charges and detain them indefinitely without trial.
2. In the ‘Little Liberalisation’ of the past three years, the Government had not closed down national newspapers as happened in 1987, when Star, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Watan were closed. However, press freedom remain fettered and in chains and the electronic media of radio and television remain totally closed to the Opposition and dissenting views.
Then the Government closed down three popular magazines, Tempo, Detik and Editor, and Indonesians
who had enthusiastically embraced the ‘new openness’ are now wondering whether it was all a ‘mirage’.
DAPSY’s great challenge is to make sure that the ‘Little Liberalisation’ is translated into a ‘Big Liberalisation’ and that the vaunted openness of the past three years does not prove to be a ‘mirage’.
I am seriously considering not offering myself for the post of DAP Secretary-General in the next Party Congress as I would have been in this office for 27 years
I had said that the next general elections will b the DAP’s most difficult and challenging general elections, where DAP will have no safe seats.
Last Sunday, I said that the DAP faces three possible results in the next general elections, suffering the worst election defeat in DAP history, maintaining or status quo of 20 Parliamentary seats or improving on the DAP’s 1990 general elections performance.
I also hazarded a guess-timate of the chances of these three prospects as 60 per cent that DAP would do badly, 30 per cent for DAP maintaining status quo and 10 per cent for DAP achieving even better performance than the 1990 general elections.
When several months ago I said hat the DAP faced its most difficult and challenging fight in the next general elections, I was called a pessimist. Now, it seems to have become conventional wisdom that in the next general elections, the Barisan Nasional would do very well while the Opposition would do badly.
Now, when I said that the DAP has 10 per cent chances of improving on its 1990 general elections, some would probably call me a optimist.
I am neither an pessimist nor a optimist, but simply a realist who dare to dream big dreams.
I accept the fact that DAP could do very badly in the next general elections, suffering its worse election result, and if this should happen, as DAP Secretary-General, I will accept full personal responsibility.
However, as one who had dedicated 28 years of my life to the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia, at a time when the country is beginning to see the ‘little fruits’ of this DAP struggle and sacrifice in the ‘Little Liberalisations’ of the past three years, I would want the DAP and DAPSY to dare to try to turn the tide to translate these ‘Little Liberalisations’ into ‘Big Liberalisations’ in Malaysia.
I will not run away from my political responsibility. This year is not only my 25th year as elected Member of Parliament but also as DAP Secretary-General. I was appointed DAP Secretary-General by the Central Executive Committee in October 1969 in absentia, as I was then detained under the ISA in Muar.
However, I am seriously considering not offering myself for the post of DAP Secretary-General in the DAP Party Congress as I would have been in this office for 27 years.
In a ‘Big Liberalisation’, Malaysians will enjoy press freedom where newspapers do not have to apply for annual press licences, and the radio and television will be opened up to allow free and fair access by Opposition parties.
In a ‘Big Liberalisation’, Malaysians will enjoy press freedom where newspapers do not have to apply for annual pres licences, and the radio and television will be opened up to allow free and fair access by Opposition parties.
3. In the present ‘Little Liberalisation’, the pressures against Chinese primary schools and Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in the seventies and eighties have been removed, but basic government policy have not changed.
In a ‘Big Liberalisation’, Chinese primary schools will be given full government funding like national primary schools, new Chinese primary schools built to meet the demands of parents and pupils and state government land automatically given free or at nominal premium for new Chinese primary schools. For Chinese Independent Secondary Schools, the Federal and State Government will give regular annual allocations to support their development and expansion while government permission will granted for the rebuilding of Seg. Hwa Chinese Independent Secondary School in Segamat and the Yu Hua Chinese Independent Secondary School in Kajang, while Foo Yew Chinese Independent Secondary School in Johore Bahru would be allowed to establish a branch school in Kulai.
4. In the present ‘Little Liberalisation’, my proposal last week that former Jiao Zong President, Sim Moh Yee should be made a ‘Tan Sri’ on National Day net month is regarded in many quarters are completely unthinkable.
In a ‘Big Liberalisation’, such a proposal will find general support and acceptance, not only by the Government but by Malaysians of all races, for there would have been government and national recognition not only of Sim Moh Yee’s contribution to Chinese education, but also of the great role played by Chinese education in the nation-building process.
Up to now, teachers from Chinese Independent Secondary Schools were completely excluded in Teachers’ Day awards of ‘Tokoh Guru’, but in a ‘Big Liberalisation’, Chinese Independent Secondary School Teachers who have made great sacrifices for education would also be given national recognition in ‘Tokoh Guru’ awards.
DAP’s challenge is to ensure that ‘Little Liberal isation’ is translated into ‘Big Liberalisation’ and the vaunted ‘openness’ of the past three years does not prove to be a ‘mirage’
Although the people as a whole perceive government policies in the past three years as a bit more open and liberal than the seventies ad eighties, there is no doubt that there are areas where there are no ‘little liberalization’ but mere ‘false liberalization’.
However, what is most important is that all Malaysians should realise that ‘Little Liberalisation’ will not automatically become ‘Big Liberalisation’ without political struggle and commitment. In fact, there I also the possibility of a ‘relapse where the ‘Little Liberalisation’ retreats to the closed and illiberal years of the seventies and eighties.
Indonesia should be a good example for Malaysians, for until recently, there had also been claims of ‘openness’ where the Indonesian press were allowed to be freer and more critical of the government of the day.
I am not quitting politics and I will continue in the DAP struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia, but may be, the time has come for a new DAP Secretary-General to be appointed in the next Party Congress.
I am thinking aloud not to start a discussion or debate on the subject, but to give advance notice of my present thinking. No firm and final decision need be taken now as the next DAP Party Congress will only be held in 1996.
In fact, I would make a special request to DAPSY leaders and delegates at this National DAPSY Conference, that they respect my wish that they should not discuss or comment on this subject. My special request extends to all DAP leaders, branches and members to refrain from making any statements or getting involved in any public discussion on the subject. If we want to have a full discussion on the subject, then we can have it at the next Party Congress in 1966.