Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Slang, at The DAP Kuching Dinner held in Kuching on Sunday, February 26, 1995 at 9 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 he regarded as one of the most important general elections since Merdeka 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 21s t century.
SUPP, Gerakan and MCA leaders claim credit for the minor liberalisations at 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 claims are 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.
The Barisan Nasional Chinese 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.
ion of political leaders who want changes in government nation-building policies, or admit that the voters have valid reasons to reject the Barisan Nasional 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.
What is most shocking was that such a statement that “the Chinese in Malaysia had no reason to foe 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 ether country” was made as a response to the angry allegations by UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders that the Chinese in Malaysia were “ungrateful” ‘ in not supporting the Barisan Nasional in the 1990 general elections.
The UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders even asked what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted.
It was fortunate that the DAP took the first opportunity when Parliament met after the 1990 general elections to answer the UMNO question as to what the Chinese in Malaysia want in the country and disabused the UMNO leadership that the Chinese in Malaysia have no reason to be unhappy or to ask for more.
In my speech in Parliament in December 1990, I criticised Najib for not understanding the meaning of democracy, for the question of ‘gratitude’ does not arise when voters exercise their constitutional right of the vote. If voters can be punished or discriminated against because they exercised their constitutional right to vote, then such a constitutional right or such a democracy do not have meaning.
I also expressed my sadness that after 33 years of Merdeka, top UMNO leaders should be publicly asking what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted, and that no Chinese Minister in Cabinet could give an answer!
I said what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted are very simple: all they wanted are all the rights a Malaysian citizen is entitled to – equality, justice, freedom and fair play, nothing more and nothing less!
If the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had listened to MCA, Gerakan and SUPP leaders that “the Chinese in Malaysia should be contented because they have more political, economic, educations, cultural and religious rights than the Chinese in any other country”, then there would be no ‘Minor Liberalisation’ in certain economic and educational fields in the past three years.
It was precisely because the DAP stood up in Parliament to tell the Barisan Nasional Government loud and clear that what the Chinese in Malaysia wanted was their full citizenship rights, that Mahathir realised that if the Barisan Nasional was to compete with DAP to win the hearts and minds of the people, he had to initiate ‘Minor Liberalisation’ measures.
Mahathir realised that the 1990 general elections was unique and historic in one special sense: the historic breakthrough of the DAP in winning electoral support in the urban areas in two consecutive general elections which no political party, whether in Government or Opposition, had ever achieved.
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 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 SUPP, 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 and 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 next general elections is so 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 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 translate the ‘Minor Liberalisation’ into ‘Full Liberalisation’.
The next general elections will be the DAP’s most difficult and challenging general elections in DAP history. The Barisan Nasional is supremely confident that it could achieve its greatest election history in Malaysian history – and even crush the Opposition. Among the reasons for this Barisan Basional confidence are:
*1. the good economic conditions in the country despite the ups and downs in the stock market;
* 2. ‘Minor Liberalisation’ or the more open and liberal government approaches in certain educational and economic measures in the past four years, although they do not represent basic policy changes to justify becoming ‘Full Liberalisation’;
* 3. the China card, which will be a replay of the Barisan Nasional election tactics in 1974 general elections where Chairman Mao Tse Tung was drafted by Barisan Nasional propagandists to be their main electoral draw;
* 4.the Chinese card by UMNO leaders
(a) with Anwar Ibrahim speaking in Mandarin on ‘We Are One Family’;
(b) with UMNO Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers lee! by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, wielding the Chinese brush to do Chinese calligraphy especially during the Chinese New Year;
(c) the number of Chinese films and programmes over Malaysian television channels during the Chinese New Year which is most unprecedented since the introduction of television in Malaysia in the sixties;
* 5. The PAS card, with the SUPP, MCA and Gerakan spreading lies and falsehoods that the DAP support. PAS in its Islamic State and hukum hudud enactments;
* 6. The latest redelineation of the electoral constituencies last year;
* 7. Barisan Nasional parties collectively having over four million members as registered voters out of a total nine million registered electorate. If there is a 75 per cent voter turn-out, this four million Barisan Nasional membership will already represent 59 per cent of the total votes cast. This may be why Barisan Nasional feels confident it could achieve the highest popular vote for Barisan Nasional in next elections, as the highest percentage of popular vote was 60.7 per cent in the 1974 general elections.
* 8. The politics and patronage of money;
* 9. Tight control over the mass media, whether television, radio or newspapers;
* 10. A general elections which is not ‘free, fair or clean’; and
* 11. Most important of all the short memory of Malaysians – who are easily impressed by form and propaganda.
It is no exaggeration that the Barisan Nasional is banking considerably on the last condition – that Malaysians have a very short, memory or have even lost all memory of recent events and history.
To these Malaysians who have a very short memory or no memory, Anwar speaking in Mandarin on ‘We Are One Family’ is adequate, although the Barisan Nasional policies have not been changed to ensure that all Malaysians are ‘One Family’, in particular in abolishing the division of Malaysians into bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras.
To them, UMNO leaders writing Chinese calligraphy is more important than change of National Education Policy, the abolition of Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act which was solemnly promised in the 1986 general elections, the fair treatment for Chinese primary schools and government funding for Chinese Independent. Secondary Schools or the approval for Dong Ziao Zhong’s proposed New-Era College.
These people have even forgotten that only a few years ago, there were mass arrests under the Internal Security Act, the closure of newspapers, the sacking of judges undermining the principle of the independence of the judiciary, the legislating of some of the most draconian and repressive laws in the world restraining human rights and democratic liberties of Malaysians as well as the long catalogue of financial scandals in Malaysia such as the RM30 billion Bank Negara foreign exchange losses scandal.
The 1982 general elections should be a very good lesson to all Malaysians. The DAP suffered unprecedented defeat in the 1982 general elections, and the euphoria of such Barisan Nasional victory proved to even more harmful to the people, such as the ‘One Language, One Culture Policy’ proclaimed after the 1982 general elections, the attempt to demolish Bukit China in Malacca, the long catalogue of financial scandals and corruption or the subsequent violations of human rights and democratic freedoms of Malaysians.