Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Bagan by-election ceramah at Chamberlain Road, Butterworth on Monday, September 4, 1995 at 9 p.m.
Voters of Bagan must decide on Saturday whether to elect a MCA ‘longkang’ MP or to vote Lim Hock Seng to save democracy and DAP and make Bagan famous as“Democracy City”
The voters of Bagan must decide on Saturday whether to elect a MCA ‘longkang’ MP or to vote the DAP candidate Lim Hock Seng to save democracy and DAP and make Bagan famous as “democracy City”.
I understand that MCA leaders and strategists were delighted with my speech at the Sungai Puyu ceramah last night calling on the voters of Bagan to be “defenders of democracy” and to make Bagan famous as “Democracy City” on polling day on September 9 by voting on behalf of all Malaysians to save democracy and the DAP as a result of the unprecedented Barisan Nasional Victory in the April general election.
This is because MCA leaders and strategists believe that I had made a fatal error in coming to Bagan to talk about democracy and calling on the Bagan voters to make Bagan famous as “Democracy City” by voting for DAP which made a MCA victory in the by-election even more assured and certain.
MCA leaders and strategists believe that the political sophistication of the peoplr of Bagan is very low and for me to call on the Bagan voters to be ‘defenders of democracy” and to make Bagan a “Democracy City” is for the DAP to court electoral disaster in the Bagan by-election.
Let the voters of Bagan show on Saturday whether the MCA leaders and strategists are right in believing that the Bagan voters know nothing about democracy and are not interested in the large issues of survival of democracy and the strengthening of the DAP and the Opposition to ensure effective ‘check-and-balance’ on the government or whether the DAP is right that the people of Bagan could be like voters in Penang island, Kuala Lumpur or Malacca who could be inspired by vision and ideals of freedom and justice and to vote for the larger interests of themselves and Malaysians as a whole.
Let the voters of Bagan prove the MCA leaders and strategists wrong when they hold that the people of Bagan are incapable of creating history in the Bagan by-election by shocking Malaysia and the world with a completely unexpected result – not only a victory for the DAP but a victory with landslide majority.
I am not saying that I am confident that the DAP is sure to win in the Bagan by-election. At present, the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik is the only person who is supremely confident of a MCA victory.
However, I have a wish in the Bagan by-election – that he voters of Bagan would fully make use of the opportunity in the by-election on behalf of all Malaysians to make a historic statement to save democracy and DAP after the 1995 general election not only by ensuring a DAP victory but with a DAP majority in Bagan which is the biggest in history!
I believe that the MCA leaders and strategists are wrong in underestimating the political sophistication and idealism of the people of Bagan.
I believe that the voters of Bagan are not behind the voters on the Penang Island, Kuala Lumpur or Malacca in understanding the importance of democracy to a multi-racial and multicultural Malaysia and that they are capable on Polling Day to shoulder their historic responsibility to vote not only for themselves, their children but also for all other Malaysians.
I am prepared to make public the Bill which Ting Chew Peh had finalised for the repeal of the Rent Control Act affecting 40, 000 pre-war premises within the next five years but which has been kept away from public knowledge because of the Bagan by-election
The people of Bagan are not politically impotent, as they have already influenced government policies by the mere fact that there would be a Bagan by-election as a result of the untimely death of P. Patto.
I will give two examples.
The MCA Local Government and Housing Minister, Datuk Ting Chew Peh, has finalised a Bill to repeal the Rent Control Act affecting 40, 000 pre-war premises within the next five years. This Bill was meant to be tabled in the August meeting of Parliament and adopted.
However, because of the Bagan by-eleciotn and fearing adverse electoral reaction, this Bill to repeal the Rent Control Act was not only withheld from Parliament in the current meeting, its existence has also been kept away from public knowledge.
This Bill to repeal the Rent Control Act within the next five years has not been abandoned, but merely deferred until the next Parliament which will start meeting on October 14.
This Bill by the MCA Minister for Housing and Local Government to repeal the Rent Control Act and decontrol 40, 000 pre-war premises would be a social catastrophe as the Housing Ministry has done nothing to prepare for the repeal of the Rent Control Act by building enough low-cost to give a “roof over the head” for the poor and the low-income Malaysians who will affected by such a decontrol.
If Ting Chew Peh denies that he has finalised a Bill to repeal the Rent Control Act in the next five years, I am prepared to make public the Bill which Ting Chew Peh had finalised for the repeal of the Rent Control Act affecting 40, 000 per-war premises within the next five years but which has been kept away from public knowledge because of the Bagan by-election.
The Bagan voters should ensure that the temporary withdrawal of the drastic and draconian proposals to change the Parliamentary Standing Orders become permanent and is replaced by democratic changes.
Another instance which shows the power of Bagan voters because there is a by-election is the withdrawal in Parliament today of the government proposals to amend the Standing Orders which will further restrict the freedom of MPs, whether backbench or Opposition, to perform their dual role of providing the ‘check-and-balance’ against Executive excesses and malpractices and to articulate the views, aspirations and fears of the electorate.
The proposed amendments to the Standing Orders of Dewan Rakyat are most preposterous and will make the Malaysian Parliament the laughing-stock in the world because of the restrictions on the freedom of MPs to perform their parliamentary duties.
For instance, it is proposed to slash the right of MPs to send in 20 questions per meeting to five, to virtually “kill-off” emergency motions of definite public importance, and the enhancement of powers to the Speaker and Deputy Speakers to suspend an MP for 10 days – which is unheard off in Parliaments in the other parts of the Commonwealth, including Taiwan and India where there are often fisticuffs in their legislatures.
The DAP has made the undemocratic amendments to the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders a main issue in the Bagan by-election to illustrate the dangerous slide towards a more arbitrary and high-handed Government which is becoming more and more undemocratic and unaccountable.
The Barisan Nasional has realised that it has no honourable, good or defensible reason to justify such drastic and draconian changes to the Standing Orders of Parliament in the Bagan by-election.
The proposed amendments to the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders, standing in the name of th eProme Minister in the Parliamentary Order Paper, was withdrawn in Parliament today but there is no indication that after a Barisan Nasional victory in the Bagan by-election, the same amendments to the Standing Orders would not be presented to the Dewan Rakyat in the Parliamentary meeting from Oct. 14 to Dec. 30.
The prospect of the Bagan by-election has caused the temporary withdrawal of the drastic and draconian amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders. Now the people of Bagan must ensure that these drastic and draconian proposals to amend Parliamentary Standing Orders are permanently withdrawn and replaced with democratic amendments by voting in the DAP with a unprecedented and history majority.
The people of Bagan have a historic opportunity to fly the standard of democracy for all Malaysians on polling day on Saturday and this is why I have made my call on the Bagan people to make Bagan famous, not only in the country but world-wide, by making Bagan known as “Democracy City” in reversing the results of the April general election and giving the DAP not only a victory but a historic majority as well!