Let the voters of Teluk Intan decide on May 17 whether Rahim Tamby Cik and Muhammad Taib would have resigned as Malacca Chief Minister and Selangor Mentri Besar respectively if not for the DAP and whether Keng Yaik is right that the DAP is a "good-for-nothing" Opposition party


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Teluk Intan, Tuesday): Last Saturday, the Gerakan President and Minister for Primary Industries, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, accused the DAP of having "done nothing since the 1995 General Election to contribute constructive ideas aimed at developing the nation" and like oher Barisan Nasional leaders, expressed his confidence of a Barisan Nasional victory in the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election.

I want to thank Keng Yaik for setting an excellent theme for the Teluk Intan by-election and I wish to announce that I accept the challenge posed by the Gerakan President to let the voters of Teluk Intan decide on May 17 whether the DAP is a "good-for-nothing" Opposition party as alleged by him.

I will start developing the DAP’s case to this Gerakan accusation that the DAP is a "good-for-nothing" Opposition party at my first by-election ceramah tomorrow night.

For a start, let the voters of Teluk Intan decide whether Rahim Tamby Cik and Muhammad Taib would have resigned as Malacca Chief Minister and Selangor Mentri Besar respectively if not for the DAP, and what the Gerakan had done to bring down Rahim Tamby Cik and Muhammad Taib.

May be, Keng Yaik should first clarify whether the Gerakan agrees that Rahim Tamby Cik and Muhammad Taib have lost all moral authority to be heads of state governments and that they should have stepped down as Malacca Chief Minister and Selangor Mentri Besar respectively long before they actually did so.

We know for instance that the Gerakan Assemblyman in Selangor fully shared the sentiments of other Barisan Nasional Selangor State Assemblymen that Muhammad Taib was a great loss to Selangor and Malaysian politics and that Muhammad Taib had made great sacrifices by resigning as Selangor Mentri Besar.

Let Keng Yaik explain what is the official Gerakan stand on the Muhammad Taib issue - on his resignation as Mentri Besar, his arrest and prosecution in the Brisbane court last December for not declaring RM2.4 million, his failure to institute legal proceedings against the Brisbane Courier Mail for its reports since December last year about his RM25 million worth of properties in Australia and extraordinary expenditures, and whether Muhammad Taib should resign as Batang Kali Assemblyman as well as UMNO Vice President.

I am sure the voters of Teluk Intan are awaiting eagerly for Keng Yaik’s response. I had announced on Saturday, when announcing the candidature of M. Kulasegaran, that corruption and abuses of power would be among the priority issues in the Teluk Intan by-election and it is apt that the Teluk Intan by-election campaign should start by focussing on this issue, bringing the spotlight particularly on Rahim Tamby Cik and Muhammad Taib, as a response to Keng Yaik’s allegation that the DAP is a "good-for-nothing" Opposition party.

Barisan Nasional leaders, like the Perak Mentri Besar Tan Sri Rahmli Ngah and Keng Yaik, have been expressing their confidence that Barisan Nasional victory in Teluk Intan by-election is assured on May 17.

This is one thing I am not confident about as it is well-nigh impossible to undo the 13,968-vote majority won by the Barisan Nasional in Teluk Intan parliamentary constituency in the 1995 general elections.

However, in politics, one must - for the sake of the people - be prepared to reach for the sky, dream big dreams and even try the impossible, - and this is what the DAP is seeking to do in the Teluk Intan by-election.

Whatever the by-election outcome, I believe that DAP’s contest in the Teluk Intan by-election will bring immense benefits to the people of Teluk Intan which would otherwise be denied to them.

It would highlight the developmental woes of the people of Teluk Intan, in particular the long-standing problem of the erosion of the river bank and the sinking of Teluk Intan township.

Even more important, it would provide a forum for the people of Teluk Intan and the people of Malaysia to hold the Barisan Nasional government to account for its failures to protect the ordinary people’s rights and interests in the past 24 months since the 1995 general elections despite an unprecedented landslide victory - with the DAP completely wiped out at the parliamentary level in Perak and left with only one seat in the Perak State Assembly.

The best example of the Barisan Nasional government’s failure to be the "defender of the people’s interest" which it had promised during the general elections is the unjustified new round of increases of electricity tariffs, as the previous power tariff increase was only in March last year!

I want to take this opportunity to make a clarification in view of press write-ups about the DAP’s by-election strategy. One writer for instance wrote yesterday that the DAP would be adopting the "underdog" stance - that "there would be no more campaign for ‘Robocop’, no ‘chief minister with power’ and no display of arrogance, all of the factors which contributed to its debacle in Penang two years ago".

I want to lay to rest the canard that I want to be a ‘Robocop" by publicly stating for the first time that the decision to use the ‘Robocop’ theme in the last general elections in Penang was made without my prior knowledge and that the first time I saw the Robocop billboard was when it appeared in the newspapers. I am not blaming anyone although the Robocop theme backfired - but I want to put the record straight that I was behind or had anything to do with the idea of the Robocop theme in the DAP campaign last year.

I call on the voters of Teluk Intan to give their solid support to the DAP candidate, M. Kulasegaran. In Malaysian politics, it is very easy and even profitable to be in the Barisan Nasional but it takes a lot of courage, commitment and idealism to be in the forefront of the DAP struggle, as the prices that have to be paid by DAP leaders, MPs and Assemblymen in their defense of the people’s rights can be a very heavy one.

A Barisan Nasional candidate faces no risk - except the risk of not being promoted as Deputy Minister or Minister or the risk of not becoming a rich man. A DAP candidate is in a very different category, as he is placing his whole liberty and future at risk.

Lim Guan Eng is the latest classic example of this unfortunate political situation in Malaysia, and for this reason, the people should particularly cherish and support Malaysians who are prepared to step forward to be in the forefront of the DAP - like the DAP candidate for Teluk Intan, M. Kulasegaran.

(6/5/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong