Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the Miri DAP August Moon Dinner held at Miri on Thursday, 14th September 1995 at 7 pm
DAP announces Operation Miri to make Miri one of the front-line DAP areas in the forthcoming Sarawak state general election to make a historic breakthrough for DAP and democracy in Sarawak
DAP’s great and historic victory in the bagan parliamentary by-election last Saturday, where the DAP’s 11,802-vote majority was 100 times the DAP’s 118-vote majority in the April general election, should become a turning-point not only for the DAP but also for Malaysian democracy after the Opposition debacle in the general election five months ago.
When the April general election results were announced on the night of April 25, with the DAP decimated with the weakest parliamentary and State Assembly representation in the 29-year DAP history, there was disbelief, shock and trauma not only among DAP leaders and members but the public at large. Throughout the country, Malaysians were shocked and kept asking how the DAP could lose so badly and were worried about the future where there is no strong and vocal DAP presence in parliament.
Last Saturday, 9th September, when the unbelievable 11,802-vote majority of the DAP in the Bagan by-election was announced, there was again disbelief throughout the country, but this time accompanied by elation and rejoicing, not only in Peninsular Malaysia but also in Sarawak and Sabah. This elation and rejoicing stemmed from the belief that there is still hope in the revival of DAP and restoration of democracy in Malaysia.
This shows that the people of Malaysia, whether in peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak or Sabah, identified with the DAP in celebrating the victory of democracy as a result of the historic and great verdict in the Bagan parliamentary by-election.
The Bagan by-election should be a turning-point for the revival of DAP and the restoration of democracy after the dismal opposition performance in the April general election.
Malaysians have seen for themselves in the past five months that a weekend DAP is not only had for DAP, but bad for Malaysians as a whole for it means a weakening of the ‘check-and-balance’ of the government provided by the DAP in Parliament in order to reduce the incidence of abuses of power, malpractices and downright corruption.
Encouraged by a weakened Opposition as a result of the April general election, the Barisan Nasional has even tried to deny the voters the right to elect the MP of their choice, and this is why the DAP has lost the Bukit Bintang parliamentary seat, not through the ballot box but by the disqualification of Wee Choo keong as MP for Bukit Bintang although he was ejected by the majority of voters in the April general election. Instead, a defeated MCA candidate was declared the MP for Bukit Bintang, when the majority of the Bukit Bintang voters had clearly rejected him in the April general election.
In the Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat, the voters were again denied the right to elect the MP of their choice and suddenly found that they are represented in Parliament by a MCA MP, who would not have a ghost of a chance to become PJ Utara MP if the voters were to choose through the ballot box.
The people of Sarawak should know better than other Malaysians what happens when there is no strong and effective Opposition to represent the interests of the people, as there had been no genuine voice of the people in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly for the past two decades.
For instance, in Miri, there is the scandal of the ‘Millionaries’ Row”, where some 10 kilometres of land fronting the beach had been alienated to selected persons and groups, closing off the beach access to the public.
This is most outrageous and must be one of the rare cases of its kind in the world, where public rights had been sacrificed to private interests. What is shocking is that such an outrageous thing could happen in a country professing to practice parliamentary democracy, as I have no doubt that if the people had been given a choice to express their opinions, they would decisively oppose the closing off of some 10 kilometres of beach access to the public so that a handful of individuals could monopolise them.
After a virtual one-party rule in Sarawak in the last two decades, Sarawak has created a great disparity in the distribution of wealth and income, raising the fundamental question as to whether development is for the benefit of the many or the few.
However, despite the crying need for greater governmental accountability and transparency, and to redress yawning injustices in the state, the Sarawak DAP had failed again and again to make a “zero breakthrough” in the Sarawak state general election as the DAP had been completely wiped out in the Sarawak state general election in the last four state general elections.
This had raised the question whether the Sarawak DAP should opt out of state general elections and just concentrate in Parliamentary general elections, although the DAP’s showing in the last April general election had been most disappointing in Kuching and Sibu. In Bintulu, however, the DAP made a sensational breakthrough with the election of Chew Cheng Sing as DAP MP, defeating Datuk James Wong of SNAP.
Politics is a hard taskmaster and a long grueling battle for the hearts and minds of the people, and I do not think that any purpose will be served by the DAP opting out of the Sarawak state general election.
In fact, this is the time when Sarawakians should follow the example of the people of Bagan to declare categorically that they want both development and democracy, that democracy cannot be sacrificed in the name of development and that the fruits of development cannot be monopolized by the few at the expense of the many as in the case of the Millionaire Row scandal at Luak Bay.
I do not believe that the Millionaire Row Scandal of Luak Bay, Miri would have happened if the DAP is represented in the Sarawak State Assembly and I will speak on the Millionaire Row Scandal of Luak Bay, Miri in the next month’s meeting of Parliament to let Malaysians know the danger of a government which has no ‘check-and-balance’ by the DAP.
The DAP in Sarawak must therefore labour on to seek the support and mandate of the voters of Sarawak to be their eye, ear and voice in teh state Legislative Assembly to tell the Barisan Nasional Government that Sarawakians want not only development but also democracy.
For this reason, the Sarawak DAP will seek to achieve the historic ‘zero breakthrough’ in the forthcoming Sarawak general election, and I wish to announce that Miri will be one of the front-line DAP areas in the forthcoming Sarawak State general election to make a historic breakthrough for DAP and democracy in Sarawak.
The DAP will launch an Operation Miri to fulfil this objective and details of this Operation Miri to ensure that a DAP Assemblymen from the Miri area is elected to be the eye, ear and voice of the people will be announced shortly.
Call on Sarawakians to make full use of Internet to keep abreast with the latest developments in the field of Information technology
Recently, the use and abuse, the vice and virtues of Internet have been much in the news, with the Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat threatening to censor the Internet in Malaysia as well as alleging that Malaysian students overseas are being disloyal in using the Internet to “smear” the image of Malaysia before 30 million Internet users in the world.
The world is undergoing an information revolution with electronic information links transforming how we live, learn, work and play. The question is whether we are going to be a leader, keep abreast or left behind by the revolution in information technology which will decide whether Malaysia joins the ranks of the developed nations or become a backward nation.
The number of Internet users will be one indicator of Malaysia’s preparedness to make full use of the revolution in information technology for Malaysia’s transformation into a developed nation.
At present, there are less than 300 Internet subscribers from Sarawak, which does not speak well for Sarawak’s grasp of the information technology.
I therefore wish to issue a call to Sarawakians to make full use of Internet to keep abreast with the latest developments in the field of information technology by becoming Internet users.
Malaysia expects to have 100,000 Internet users by the end of next year and Sarawak must catch up if it is not to be left behind in the revolution in information technology.