By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, on Tuesday, August 16, 1994:
DAP welcomes Tan Sri Rahim Noor’s announcement that the Police is studying the possiblity of allowing public rallies to be held in the next general elections
DAP welcome the annoucement by the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, that the Police is studying the possibility of allowing public rallies to be held in the next general elections.
This will be in keeping with the democratisation process in the country and Vision 2020 which proclaims the astablishment of democratic society as one of its nine strategic challenges.
As the Police force is also committed to Vision 2020 and its nine strategic challenges, the Police has a duty to promote democracy and democraisation, including lifting the ban on public rallies imposed for the last 16 years.
There are some people who claim or believe that public rallies were banned after the May 13 Incident in 1969, blaming public rallies as one of the causes of the May 13 Incident.
This is not correct. If it were true that public rallies were one of the causes of the May 13 Incident, public rallies would have been banned after the lifting of suspension of Parliament and restoration of normal political activities in 1971.
This was not the case, and public rallies were allowed to be held from 1971 onwards, during the 1974 general elections and until the eve of the 1978 general elections. To be exact, the Police banned public rallies one week before parliament was dissolved on June 12, 1978.
The reason given by the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar on 4th June 1978 was that the Police had “to maintain maximum vigilance from now until Merdeka Day on August 31 because of the possibility of violent incidents on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya on June 20” and that “such incidents may be carried out in States where there have been no previous manifestations of communist activity.”
In the event, there was not a single incident on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the armed struggle of the Malayan Communist Party, and a 12-week ban to allow the Police to “maintain maximum vigilance from June to August 31, 1978” had become a 16-year ban!
If Malaysia wants to hold itself as a model for the developing countries and even the world as a democratic nation, then the first political democratisation in Malaysia must be the lifting of the ban on public rallies.
There will be very strong objections and opposition to any proposal to lift the ban on public rallies, not on grounds of democracy, human rights or even security, but out of fear that this will be a political disaster for some political parties in the next general elections.
Heading the list opposing the democratisation process like lifting the ban on public rallies is Gerakan, which fear that if public rallies are allowed, Gerakan will lose power in the Penang State to the DAP. In fact, the Gerakan has already publicly annouced that it is opposed to the lifiting of the ban on publicly annonced that it is opposed to the lifting of the ban on public rallies.
MCA is also opposed to the lifting of the ban on public rallies, because like Gerakan, the MCA dare not face the DAP in an open battle for the hearts and minds of Malaysians.
Gerakan and MCA have therefore shown their true colours as enemies of democracy, human rights or any demoractisation process in Malaysia.