Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tan Jung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP National Publicity Seminar on “To Strive For A Big Breakthrough” held at the Furama Hotal, Kuala Lumpur on “An Overview of the Next General Elections” on Sunday, 21st August 1994 at 10 am
The great paradox for the DAP in the next general elections – to stive for a big breakthrough while fully conscious the DAP faces the most difficult and uphill battle in the next polls without any safe seats.
At a time when the Barisan Nasional, and in particular the MCA, expects overwhelming victory in the next general elections, and DAP leaders have publicly announced that the DAP must fight its most difficult general elections in party history with no safe seats, it seems to be a great paradox that the theme for today’s DAP National Publicity Seminar should be “Strive For A Big Breakthrough”.
Should a person fighting for his life be thinking and talking about attempting a big breakthrough?
This is indeed the great paradox for the DAP in the next general elections – to strive for a bigh breakthrough while fully conscious that the DAP faces the most uphill battle for survival in the next polls without any safe seats.
For instance, the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik is collaborating with the UMNO Youth Leader and Malacca Chief Minister, Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik, to capture the Malacca town parliamentary seat – which had consistently in the past 25 years, through six general elections, voted for the DAP to represent them and the nation in Parliament.
Although Liong Sik’s first collaboration with Rahim Tamby Cik in 1984 to demolish Bukit China in Malacca failed because of the DAP’s nation-wide Save Bukit China campaign, their second collaboration is more ambitious, systematic and wellfunded.
When DAP’s stronghold in Malacca town, the only parliamentary constituency in the country which had supported the DAP for 25 years through six general elections, is also under threat, the DAP’s prospects for the next general elections can be very bleak and daunting.
Two weeks ago, at an international conference in Kuala Lumpur on “Chinese Culture Towards 21st Century”, a Singapore political scentist, Dr. Ho Kay Leong, predicted that the next general elections would be most ‘unfavourable’ to the DAP while Barisan Nasional parties face a ‘Everything is Fine’ scenario.
The two important factors given by Dr. Ho to explain why the Barisan Nasional parties face a ‘Everything is Fine’ prospect in the next general elections are the buoyant econmy and the more open and liberal policies and measures of the Barisan Nasional Government.
There are of course other factors which would be most advantagious to the Barisan Nsional parties in the next general elections, including the redelineation of eletoral constituencies and the recent 21-day voters’ registration exercise, the politics of money, the one-sided mass media and the abuses of government machinery.
After the redelineation, in Peninisular Malaysia, there are 97 constituencies with Malay mojorities, 26 with Chinese mojorities and 21 mixed contituencies
After the redelineation and increase of 12 new parliamentrary contituencies in Peninsular Malaysia, out of the 144 parliamentary constituencies, 97 will have Malay voter-majorities, 26 with Chinese voter-majorities while 21 mixed constituencies with no single racial group in majority, comprising the following:
Malay Chinese Mixed Total
Voter Voter Consti-
Majorities Majorities tuencies
Perlis 3 – – 3
Kedah 14 – 1 15
Kelantan 14 – – 14
Trengganu 8 – – 8
Penang 4 6 1 11
Perak 11 6 6 23
Pahang 9 1 1 11
Selangor 10 4 3 17
Kuala Lumpur 3 4 3 10
Negeri Sembilan 4 1 2 7
Malacca 4 1 – 5
Johore 13 3 4 20
97 26 21 144
I do not know how the racial breakdown of the voters in these parliamentary constituencies will alter after last month’s 21-day voters’ registration exercise by the Election Commission, where UMNO set out to register 400,000 new voters on the electoral rollm as well the massive registration of phantom voters in certain constituencies, like the Bruas parliamentary seat in Perak and the Tanjong Bungah State Assembly seat in Penang.
For all these reasons, the DAP is fighting for its political survival in the next general elections and the first question is whether we can avert the worst electoral defeat in DAP hisotry since the 1982 general elections, where the DAP was reduced to six parliamentary seats in Peninsular Malaysia – one in Malacca, two in Penang and three in Kuala Lumpur.
In the circumstances, the first question that should be posed is why the theme for today’s conference is ‘how to achieve a big breakthrough’ and not ‘how to save ourselves from disaster’ in the next general elections.
Although this is highly paradoxical, I fully endorse this theme for today’s DAP Ntional Publcity Conference.
We live in a wourld of paradoxes. A recent bestseller by John Naisbitt was entitled ‘Global Paradox’, and the paradoxes he wrote about includes the following:
* The bigger the world economy, the more powerful its smallest players;
* The more universal we become, the more tribal we act;
Think locally, Act Globally.
Malaysia has also its share of paradoxes. It is conventional wisdon that the ‘Little Liberalisation’ of the Barisan Nasional government in the past few years will be good for the MCA and Gerakan and bad for the DAP.
Three perequisite to harness the people to support the DAP’s battle cry to transform the ‘Little Liberalisation’ to ‘Big Liberalisation’
I venture to believe that the more the government embarks on the road towards ‘Little Liberalisation’, the more the people will appreciate and supoort the DAP’s call for ‘Big Liberalisation’.
There are however three prerequistites if we are to achieve this result and harness the people’s support to the DAP’s battle cry to transform the ‘Little Liberalisation’ to ‘Big Liberalisation’, where every Malaysian will enjoy an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
These three prerequisites are that we must make the people fully understand:
*Firstly, the root causes of ‘Little Liberalisation’ – that it has nothing to do with the MCA or Gerakan but the result of the people’s support for the DAP’s struggle and sacrifices in the past three decades;
*Secondly, the big gap between ‘Little Liberalisation’ of today and the ‘Big Liberalisation’ which had always represented the aspirations of the people in their support for the DAP’s struggle for a Malaysian Malaysia; and
*Thirdly, the importance of not missing the present opportunity to transform the ‘Little Liberalisation’ into ‘Big Liberalisation’ – as no one should assume that such ‘Little Liberalisation’ will be permanent.
In the next general elections, whether the DAP can avert its worst electoral defeat in DAP history is irrelecant to the people and the country.
If DAP can create an upset in nect general elections by achieving a ‘Big Breakthrough’, it will cause shock effects which will transform the ‘Little Liberalisation’ into ‘Big Liberalisation’
What is crucial to the people, our children and shildren’s children is whether we can mobilise the people to grasp the present opportunity to use their votes in the next general elections to catapult the ‘Little Liberalisation’ into a ‘Big Liberaliation’ in all aspect of nation-building, so that Malaysia becomes a more just, equal and democatic society, with full respect for all her citizens, languages, cultures, religions.
This is why the DAP must go for a ‘Big Breakthrough’ in the next general elections – although at present this seems to be asing for the impossible – for the sake of bringing about a quantum leap in the nation-building process.
This is why the DAP plans for the capture of Penang State Government under the Tanjong 3 project to be the enginehead to provide leadership for the nation-wide ‘Big Liberalisation’ campaign, and why the DAP must dare to work for a ‘Big Breakthrough’ in the next general elections.
We must however always be realistic, fully conscious of the disaster lurking in wait for the DAP in the next general elections while daring to dream the Big Dream of a ‘Big Breakthrough’ and a Malaysian Malaysia even in the most adverse of circumstances.
Everybody acknowledges that the next general elections will be very tough and difficult for the DAP, which will be fighting for its survival, and a ‘walk-over’ for the Barisan Nasional parties, whether MCA or Gerakan.
However, if under these most adverse circumstances, the DAP can achieve a ‘Big Breakthrough’, not only in averting the worst electoral defeat or maintaining our status quo, but achieving new political frontiers both at the national and state levels, then the shocl of such an General Elections upset will be even greater.
Just as the shocl effects from the DAP’s second consecutive victory in the urban areas in the 1990 general elections caused the ‘Little Liberalisation’ in the past three years, similarly the shock effects from such an upset in the next general elections will provide the coditions for the transformation of the ‘Little Liberalisation’ into ‘Big Liberalisation’.