Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Tanjong Chinese New Year Gathering at Kinta Lane, Penang on Tuesday, 14th February 1995 at 8 pm
The next general elections very important as it would decide whether the aspirations of two generations of Malaysians since Merdeka for a more just, equal, united and democratic Malaysia could be given a solid foundation when the country is entering the 21st century
Barisan Nasional leaders want Malaysians to believe that there are no issues in the next general elections or that the only issue is whether to crush the Opposition on the ground that an opposition in Malaysia is irrelevant, unnecessary and even an evil.
The Barisan Nasional leaders cannot be more wrong, for the next general elections warrants to be regarded as one of the most important general elections since Merdeka as it would decide whether the aspiration of two generations of Malaysians since Merdeke for a more just, equal, united and democratic Malaysia could be given a solid foundation when the country is entering the 21st century.
Gerakan find MCA leaders are now fond of claiming credit for the minor liberalisations of Barisan Nasional policies in certain economic and educational fields in the past four years.
Malaysians who do not have a short memory will know that such Gerakan and MCA claims ore completely baseless, and that it was the people of Malaysia who, through their support for the DAP in the 1990 general elections, created the pressures which resulted in these minor liberalisations.
Gerakan and MCA leaders had no concept or sympathy whatsoever for the aspirations of Malaysians for a more open and liberal Malaysia – and this was best typified by the declaration by the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, immediately after the 1990 general elections that the Chinese in Malaysia had no reason to be asking for anything more in the country because the Chinese in Malaysia had more political, economic, educational and religious rights and freedoms than the Chinese in any other country.
This is not the declaration of political leaders who want changes in government nation-building policies, or admit that the voters have valid reasons to reject the Gerakan and MCA in the 1990 general elections, but the declaration of political leaders who see nothing wrong in the Barisan Nasional nation-building policies and no necessity for any liberalisation or change of government policies whatsoever.
However, the pressures created by the people, as a result of their support of the Tanjong 2 Battle in the 1990 general ejections were too great for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to ignore.
Mahathir realised that although the DAP narrowly failed in the Tanjong 2 Battle to capture Penang State government, the support of the electorate for the DAP in Penang and the rest of Malaysia – where DAP achieved the historic breakthrough of winning electoral support in the urban areas in two consecutive general elections – was unmistakable.
Mahathir read the message of the 1990 general elections correctly, that if the Barisan Nasional government continued to disregard the aspirations of the electorate for a more fair, just and equal Malaysian society, then it would stand the peril of losing all electoral support in the DAP Battle of Tanjong 3 in the subsequent general elections.
It is from this realisation that the minor liberalisations of the past four years were born, not from the pressures or demands of the Gerakan and MCA leaders who had publicly blamed the voters for not voting for their candidates in the 1990 general elections, rather than blaming the Barisan Nasional nation-building policies for their forfeiting popular support.
However, the liberalisation of the Barisan Nasional nation-building policies in the past four years were minor arid limited, as they do not represent major policy changes. These minor liberalisations, though welcome, are highly unsatisfactory, for without major policy changes, they are also easily reversible.
This is why the DAP’s Tanjong 3 Battle is important – to bring about Full Liberalisation in government nation-building policies and democratisation of the Malaysian society so that every Malaysian regardless of race or religion will have an equal place under the Malaysian sun.
The people of Penang, who have always provided the political lead to Malaysians, should give full support to DAP’s Tanjong 3 Battle in the next general elections to bring about ‘Full Liberalisation” in Malaysia.
The issue in the next general elections is not whether Malaysians support or reject the minor liberalisations of the past four years – but whether Malaysians want to build on the achievements of the Battle of Tanjong 2 in bringing about these minor liberalisations and create the conditions for Full Liberalisation in Malaysia.
The DAP’s Tanjong 3 Battle in the next general elections will be much more difficult and uphill than the Battle of Tanjong 2 in the 1990 general elections.
In fact, Gerakan President Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has publicly declared that the DAP’s Tanjong 3 Project is sure to fail find the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik has also pronounced from the comparative safety of his Labis constituency in Johore that the DAP would fare even worse than the 1990 general elections.
I had never denied that the DAP’s Tanjong 3 Battle will be a very tough one although it is achievable.
It is precisely because the Battle of Tanjong 3 will be very much more difficult find uphill than the Tanjong 2 Battle in 1990 that if the DAP succeeds in the Tanjong 3 the significance and impact, will be even greater than the Battle of Tanjong 2.
The Battle of Tanjong 2 created pressures which resulted in the minor liberalisations of die government nation-building policies in the past four years. If the DAP can win in the much more difficult Battle of Tanjong 3 – one which Keng Yaik and Liong Sik have declared the DAP is sure to lose – its impact will be great enough to provide the thrust to widen the minor liberalisation of the past four years into the Full Liberalisation which had been the aspiration of two generations of Malaysians since Merdeka.
This is the challenge and historic mission of the people of Penang in the Battle of Tanjong 3 in the next general elections.