Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the eighth Penang ‘Tanjong 3’ Marathon Thousand-People Dinner held at Bukit Mertajam on Saturday, October 22, 1994 at 8 pm
DAP calls on Liong Sik and Keng Yaik not to ‘kiasu’ and suppart the lifting of the ban on public rallies to promote democratisation ‘Full Liberalisation’
In Parliament on Monday, in reply to a question by the DAP MP for Siputeh, Sdr. Liew Ah Kim, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ong Ka Ting said that the Government had no plans as yet to lift the ban on public rallies.
After question time, I met the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub at the Parliamentary corridor and I asked him whether Ka Ting’s reply in the Dean Rakyat merely reflected the Government stand for the past 16 years, or whether it was a policy statement that the. Government has decided not to lift the ban on public rallies after the recent police review.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had won considerable praise recently where said the Government was prepared to review the ban on public rallies in the next general elections but would leave it to the Police to make the recommendations.
The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor said early this month that the Police had conducted its review of the ban on public rallies and would make known its recommendation when the general elections dates are known.
I therefore asked Datuk Megat whether the Police had formally presented its recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on the question as to whether the ban on public rallies should be lifted.
Megat told me that such a final decision has not yet been taken as to whether the ban on public rallies would be lifted for the next general elections.
It is open knowledge that MCA and Gerakan leaders the strongest opponents to the proposal to lift the ban on public; rallies in the next general elections, not because they are convinced that there would be public disorder or unrest, but because they are afraid that public rallies in general elections would be very unfavourable to their candidates.
As a result, MCA and Gerakan Ministers and leaders have become the strongest lobbyists with UMNO leaders and the Police not to lift the ban on Public rallies.
Why public rallies should continue to be banned if they are allowed in the first 21 years of nation-hood?
MCA and Gerakan leaders are going round claiming that Malaysia cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of having public rallies. This is a great fallacy, for public rallies had been allowed in the first four general elections in the first 21 years of Malaysian nationhood, including the 1964 general elections, when the country faced the twin threat of an internal armed insurrection by the Malayan Communist Party and external aggression of Indonesian Confrontation.
Can MCA and Gerakan leaders explain why Malaysians can afford the ‘luxury’ of public rallies in the first 21 years of Malaysian nationhood, but not now?
This is why the DAP is calling for ‘Full Liberalisation’ and ‘Ten Democratisations as the first step is to restore the rights which the people had enjoyed in. the early days of Merdeka of the nation but which had been subsequently denied by a series of undemocratic legislation, whether through the enactment of new laws or amendments to the Malaysian Constitution.
Public rallies were banned in 1978 not because they were a threat to public disorder- but because of the police fear that the impending 30th anniversary of the MCP armed insurrection in August 1978 could lead to bombings, assassinations and urban guerrilla warfare, and the ban announced in June 1978 was meant to be a temporary ban till August 1978.
But not a single incident occurred at that time, and a three-month temporary ban has become a 16-year permanent ban, when there is no justification for it whatsoever, whether on the principles of democracy or grounds of public security.
I call on the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, not to ‘kiasu’ because of the fear that MCA and Gerakan candidates might lose in the next general elections, and should instead promote democratisation and ‘Full Liberalisation’ in Malaysia by openly declaring their support for the lifting of the ban on public rallies.
This will be a test as to whether the MCA and Gerakan leaders are democrats who support democratisation, or whether they are unprincipled politicians who place their selfish personal and party interests above the democratic freedoms and human rights of Malaysians.
‘Minor Liberalisation’ is taking ‘three steps forward’, but in the context of the ‘thirty steps backwards’ in past three decades, they are inade¬quate and have not even fully restored the rights which had been eroded
It is the greatest fallacy for anyone to think that the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ had fallen from the skies, or is the result of the ‘charity’ of the Barisan Nasional Government, or even worse, is the achievement of the Gerakan and MCA. This is riot the case.
The ‘Minor Liberalisation’ are the ‘tiny results’ of the long-term political struggle of the people with the DAP for more just and equal Malaysia – a Malaysian Malaysia – for the past three decades.
If we see the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ completely out of context of the people’s struggle with the DAP for a more just and equal Malaysia, as if Malaysian politics started in 1991, we will get the impression that the Barisan Nasional Government is get¬ting more and more enlightened and we should be happy and content with the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years.
However, if we judge the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in the context of the people’s political struggle with the DAP for the Past three decades, we will then be able to place it in a proper context.
Although we welcome the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years, we cannot overlook the fact that in the past three decades, the rights of the people had suffered serious erosion and that the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years had not even fully restored these lost rights.
If we regard the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years as ‘three forward steps’, and look at them in isolation, then they are a great advance. However, if we place the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in the context of the past three decades, where -the Barisan Nasional policies had made the people to ‘go back by thirty steps’, taking ‘three steps forward’ while welcome is clearly not sufficient or satisfactory.
This is why DAP has called for ‘Full Liberalisation’ as the people and the DAP cannot be content and satisfied with the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ of the past three years – which have not even restored the political, economic, educational, cultural and citizenship rights eroded away in the past three decades.
DAP will move a motion for a third time in the next Penang State Assembly directing the Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to make regular annual state government grants to the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in the state Penang DAP Assemblymen will move a motion for a third time in the next Penang State Assembly directing the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to make regular annual state government allocations to the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in the State.
Since his becoming Penang Chief Minister, the DAP had twice presented motions in the Penang State Assembly that the Penang State Government make regular annual allocations to Chinese Indpendent Secondary Schools in the State, but in both cases, the motions were strongly opposed by the Gerakan Assemblymen – and in particular the two Gerakan leaders from Dong Ziao Zhong who had declared in 1982 that they were ‘attacking into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ – namely Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Dr. Kang Chin Seng.
What is this ‘Attacking into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ when as Chief Minister, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon dare not prove again that ‘Penang Leads’ by setting the example for other State Governments in Peninsular Malaysia to provide regular annual allocations to Chinese Independent Secondary Schools?
In actual fact, Penang will not be providing the first such example in Malaysia, as the PBS State Government had been providing regular annual allocations to Sabah’s Chinese Independent Secondary Schools during its term of office.
The reason why Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is not prepared to make regular and annual state government allocations to the Chinese Independent Secondary Schools is because he is not really the ‘master’ in his own house.