Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, when declaring open the Malacca DAP State Convention at the Emperor Hotel, Malacca on Sunday, 10th September 1995 at 12 noon
Bagan deserves to be known as “Bandar Democracy” for its great and historic majority in the Bagan by-election which is a declaration that Malaysians want democracy as well as development
The people of Bagan created history yesterday when they gave Malaysian democracy and the DAP’s new MP for Bagan Lim Hock Seng winning a majority of 11, 802 which is 100 times the majority secured by P. Patto in the April general election.
During the by-election campaign, I had asked the voters of Bagan to make Bagan the “Bandar Democracy” by being the first constituency to launch a new national crusade to save both democracy and the DAP after the five-sixth parliamentary majority of Barisan Nasional and the dismal performance of the DAP in the April general election.
I had asked the Bagan voters to write history by giving the DAP a 5,000-majority in the by-election, a figure which must have been considered as ‘wild and impossible’ by both friends and foes at the time.
However, the Bagan voters decided that even a 5,000-mjority is not enough for Bagan to create history and lay claim to the title of “Bandar Democracy” and they rallied to give the DAP a majority which is more than twice the 5,000-majority I had asked for.
I want to salute the voters of Bagan for a great by-election verdict and majority, for which they could be proud for the rest of their as they have definitely made Bagan deserve the apelllation of “Bandar Democracy”.
Last night, when it became known that the DAP had not only retained the Bagan constituency but had won with an unbelievable majority of 11,802 votes, the people of Bagan – both young and old, voters and non-voters – broke out spontaneously with one chant: “Bandar Democracy! Bandar Democracy! Bandar Democracy! ”
This shows that the DAP’s message that the by-election is not about electing a “lonkang” MCA MP, but whether democracy and the DAP can survive after the disastrous results in the last general election had gone down to the electorate.
The by-election result and majority show that the Bagan people, both the voters as well as the young generation of Malaysians who have not yet qualified to vote, have responded and embraced the challenge that Bagan write history by making Bagan the “Bandar Democracy” in Malaysia to be first after the April general election to fly the standard of democracy.
The Bagan by-election is significant in that it is a three-point declaration made on behalf of all Malaysians, namely:
• That Malaysians want both democracy and development;
• That the democratic rights and freedoms of Malaysians should not be sacrificed in the name of ‘development’ ; and
• The right to development is both a human right and a citizenship right and should not be used as an election bait or ransom to get votes for the Barisan Nasional.
It is precisely because the people of Bagan had spoken on behalf of all Malaysians in the by-election that the rejoicing over the by-election result is not just confined to Bagan, but is nation-wide.
Call on Malaysians all over the country to emulate the spirit of the people of Bagan to become centres for restoration of democracy and revival of DAP in Malaysia
Just as there was a national feeling of trauma and incredulity at the election results after the April general election, there is now throughout the land a feeling of elation and hope – that not all is lost after all and that there is still hope for the DAP as well as democracy in Malaysia.
I call on Malaysians all over the country to emulate the spirit of the people of Bagan to become centres for the restoration of democracy and revival of DAP in Malaysia.
In this connection, I call on the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon to rise above party politics and to respond in a statesmanlike manner to the Bagan by-election result by announcing that the Penang State Government would respect the wishes of the people of Bagan and would officially name Bagan as the “Bandar Democracy”!
The official state government recognition of Bagan as “Bandar Democracy” should not become a party political issue, but should be regarded as a source of pride and honour for all Malaysians, regardless of party affiliation.
Call on MCA to hold by-elections for Bukit Bintang and PJ Utara to restore to the voters their democratic right to elect the MP of their choice
The Bagan by-election result is the reason why the MCA dare not haveby-elections in Bukit Bintang and Petaling Jaya Utara to restore to the voters their right to elect the MP of their choice and why the MCA opted for the dishonourable way of sending two MCA MPs for these two areas through the “backdoor” !
The MCA leaders should realise that so long as the MCA did not win the Bukit Bintang and PJ Utara parliamentary seats through the free choice of the voters, the two MCA MPs for these two seats will continue to be regarded as “usurpers” and “pretenders” – as they have absolutely no chance of getting into Parliament if the voters of Bukit Bintang and Petaling Jaya had the right to choose the MP they want!
There should be honour in politics, and I call on MCA to direct Lee Chong Meng and Lim Kuo Phau to do the only honourable thing open to them – resign and allow by-elections for Bukit Bintang and PJ Utara to be held to restore to the voters their democratic right to elect the MP of their choice.
DAP Reform and Renewal will mean new policy directions and approaches
The great and historic victory of the DAP in the Bagan by-election does not mean that the DAP can now suspend or abandon its party renewal and reform programme.
The Bagan by-election result should in fact be a catalyst for the DAP renewal and reform programme.
After the disastrous April general election results, the DAP embarked on a party renewal and reform programme, which is the No. One item of the party agenda for the next three years.
The Bagan by-election has given the DAP an opportunity to demonstrate that the April general election result was an “aberration” and that the main causes of the DAP’s disastrous general election result were primarily external rather than internal.
However, the party must and has recognised that there are internal weaknesses which must be rectified, and that there is an urgent need to reinvigorate and reform the party if the DAP is to meet the challenges of fast-changing needs and times. This has caused the party to embark on a party revival and renewal programme.
The DAP Reform and Renewal Programme will mean new policy directions and approaches in the Malaysia political arena.
The DAP had always been a party which fought for justice and fair play for all Malaysians, regardless of race, but the DAP has been stereotyped in certain sections of the population as anti-Malay and even anti-Islam.
For instance, the DAP was in the very forefront fighting for justice for the people of Pantai Kundor and Pantai Merah – who are all Malays – to ensure that they get a fair deal from the Petronas acquisition of their ancestral land, but during the general election, this was all forgotten and the people fall easy prey to Barisan Nasional propaganda that the DAP is anti-Malay!
The Party will have to work out a strategy to destriy this stereotype by the next general election.
I will give another instance. Inside and outside Parliament, the DAP had always been vocal on issues of education, enviroment, consumer affairs, government accountability and transparency, corruption and human rights but political stereotyping has created the impressic that the DAP is purely a communal party.
There will therefore be a need to highlight and develop the party’s concerns on issues of education, environment, consumer affairs, government accountability and transparency, corruption and human rights so that by the next general elections, no political party, groupin or individual can succeed in falsely stercotyping the DAP.
Call on all young and idealistic Malaysians to join the DAP to reinvent the DAP and become the new generation of activists and leaders
In an age of globalisation, the DAP will be playing a more active role in international affairs. The DAP will also have to keep abreast with the latest developments in information technology.
The Bagan by-election result should give the party greater confidence in the strength to indertake far-reaching innovations and changes in the Party and to promote the development of a new generation of activists and leaders in the party.
I call on all young and idealistic Malaysians to join the DAP to reinvent the DAP to meet the new challenges of the 21st century, for the DAP needs the ideas and contributions of all Malaysians if we are to make democracy secure in Malaysia.