Mahathir is being ‘subjective’ and not ‘objective’ about the need for ‘fair, free and clean’ general elections in Malaysia

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, on Wednesday, August 17, 1994:

Mahathir is being ‘subjective’ and not ‘objective’ about the need for ‘fair, free and clean’ general elections in Malaysia

I have not yet received the reply form the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, on my request for a meeting to discuss the next general elections, and in particular to make it the most ‘fair, free and clean’ general elections in the history of Malaysia – in keeping with its being the first general elections to be held after the proclamation of Vision 2020 by Mahathir.

Mahathir was being very ‘subjective’ and not ‘objective’ when he commented that Malaysian general elections had always been ‘fair, free and clean’ or I could not be lected as an MP as he thought I should not have won.

Although the general elections in Malaysia falls far short of being a ‘fair, free and clean’ general elections, it has not reached the stage where the Prime Minster could dictate to the electorate whether to vote me in or not.

This does not mean that just because of the iability of the Prime Minister to dictate to the voters whether to vote for me or not, the general elections is perfect, democratic and most ‘fair, free and clean’.

It is true that Mahathir had lost once in general elections in 1969, but when he was defeated, he was not the Prime Minister of Malaysia but just an ordinary UMNO Supreme Council member. Is he suggesting that he could lose in general elections while holding the post of Prime Minister?

Call on Mahathir to be ‘open-minded’ about making the next general elections the ‘most fair, free and clean’ in Malaysian history

The issues raised by Mahathir do not rebut, but strengthen, the need to make the next general elctions the most ‘fair, free and clean’ in Malaysian history.

After all, the Commonwealth Observer Group which was invited by the Malaysian government to observe the 1990 general elections had made various proposals to make Malaysia’s general elections more ‘fair, free and clean’.

For instance, the Commonwealth Observer Group expressed concern ver the “many inaccuracies and imperfections” in the electoral rolls and weaknesses in the postal voting system.

If felt that the imperfections in the arrangement for postal votes should be reviewed before the next general elections because postal votes could be decisive in some constituencies.

The Commonwealth Observer Group was also concerned over the “unequal access” of the opposition parties to the mainstream media, especially televison.

It also stressed that it was crucial to the democratic process that the Election Commission was independent and seen to be independent.

There is also the major problem of money politics in general elections.

I hope Mahathir could be ‘open-minded’ about proposals for making the next general elections the most ‘fair, free and clean’ in Malaysian history, as this is a matter which should transcend party politics.

Public rallies should be allowed in next general elections as there is no security justification for its continued ban

In any event, I welcome Mahathir’s declaration that he was “open” about the question of the lifting of the ban on public rallies for the next general elections, and that a decision will depend on reports and proposals from the police.

The lifting of the ban on public rallies will be in keeping with the democratization proess in the country and Vision 2020 which proclaims the establishment of a 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 Polie has a duty to promote democracy and democratization 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, public rallies would have been benned 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 rallied one week before Parliament was dissolved on June 12, 1978.

The reason given by the then Ispector-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 ot the 30th anniversary of the Communist Party of Malaya on June 20” and that “such indidents 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 Jue 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 democratization 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 his will be a political disaster for some political parties in the next general elections.

Heading the list opposing the democratization 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 announced 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.

Is UMNO also afreaid of a fair, free and democratic battle for the hearts and minds of the people of Malaysia in the next general elections?