Another Ten Fundamental Demands and Aspirations of People of Teluk Intan in the May 17 parliamentary by-election

by Lim Kit Siang

(Teluk Intan, Wednesday): The Parliamentary by-election of Teluk Intan is the focus of both national and international attention because the significance of the by-election transcends the question of who is to be elected as the new MP for Teluk Intan, but is a mid-term verdict on the Barisan Nasional government after its unprecedented landslide victory in the 1995 general elections, virtually crushing the Opposition with the DAP suffering its worst general elections debacle in our 30-year history.

In less than five months after the April 1995 general elections, the people of Bagan spoke out loud and clear in the Bagan parliamentary by-election on September 9, 1995 to declare loud and clear that the Barisan Nasional government had made a great error in interpreting its unprecedented landslide general elections victory as a rejection of the DAP as well as democracy in favour of development.

The people of Bagan struck a great blow for democracy by giving the DAP a majority 100 times greater than what we had less than four months ago to send the message to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Barisan Nasional Government that Malaysians want both democracy and development!

This was why Bagan deserved the title of "Bandar Democracy" as a result of the great feat of the voters of Bagan to defend and preserve democracy at a time when democracy faced its greatest peril in Malaysia and for giving heart to the DAP, which had suffered a great loss of morale and spirit following the party’s worst electoral debacle in history.

In September last year, history was made when for the first time in 18 years, the DAP succeeded in making a breakthrough in the Sarawak state general elections when it won three state assembly seats.

The Teluk Intan by-election on May 17 will be the party’s third great test after the 1995 general elections, as the party had not fully recovered from the trauma of the worst DAP electoral defeat in 30 years.

The Teluk Intan seat is the impregnable the fort of Barisan Nasional, regarded as a seat where Barisan Nasional cannot lose and the DAP cannot win, to the extent that the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is quoted as having said that the Gerakan could win Teluk Intan without the support of the Chinese votes. Although Keng Yaik’s office had issued a denial, the retraction is most unimpressive and unconvincing.

If you ask me now what is my reading of the Teluk Intan by-election in 48 hours’ time, I would say that as of now, the DAP cannot win the by-election, despite the great support which have been given to the DAP in the by-election campaign. However, there are 48 hours left to the countdown on Polling Day on Saturday, and the outcome will finally depend on whether the DAP campaign could get even greater support from the voters of Teluk Intan in the next two days to create the "political miracle" of a DAP win on Saturday.

If in a constituency where the DAP is regarded as a "no-hoper" in winning the seat, the DAP could do the impossible and achieve the political "miracle" of a victory with M. Kulasegaran elected as Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan, the DAP would be well on the way to full recovery from the trauma of the 1995 general elections disaster. Teluk Intan by-election a mid-term verdict on the Barisan Nasional government

Although a DAP victory in Teluk Intan would give a great fillip to the DAP to enable it to be well back on the road to recovery, the Teluk Intan by-election is of even greater importance to the Malaysian people and nation.

The Teluk Intan by-election is in fact a mid-term verdict on the Barisan Nasional government and as the voters of Teluk Intan are privileged to be the first in Malaysia to pass such a verdict, the outcome of the by-election on Saturday would be closely followed - being the first of six by-elections which have to be held in the next two months.

This is why in the Teluk Intan by-election campaign, the DAP had placed in the very forefront the most important national issues that should be decided by the voters of Teluk Intan on behalf of all Malaysian voters.

I do not say that the Barisan Nasional Government is 100 per cent wrong or 100 per cent bad, or that it has done not a single good thing for the people and country. The DAP is a reasonable opposition party, and I believe the people of Teluk Intan are reasonable voters. We have always been prepared to praise the Barisan Nasional Government where it has done right and to criticise, even condemn, where it has done wrong.

Malaysia, under the Barisan Nasional Government, has achieved good economic performance registering more than eight per cent growth every year continuously for more than eight years.

We commend the Barisan Nasional government for the buoyant economy, although it is the industry and enteprise of the people rather than the government which is responsible for the country’s good economy. We must also not forget that Malaysia should have been the "first little dragon" economy, as the country was in a better economic position than Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong when we achieved independence in 1957, richer than these countries which were very poor forty years ago. Today, although have graduated to become a successful economy, we have fallen way behind Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong which have all overtaken us to become more developed than Malaysia.

We also commend the Barisan Nasional Government for the "minor liberalisation" in education, language and culture policies although it is still a long way from the "full liberaflisation" that we want.

But the voters in Malaysia, including the voters of Teluk Intan, have already recorded their appreciation for these good points of the Barisan Nasional Government in the 1995 general elections, by giving the Barisan Nasional a landslide victory which almost crushed the DAP and these are not issues in the Teluk Intan by-election.

On Sunday, we presented for adoption by the voters of Teluk Intan "Ten Fundamental Demands and Aspirations of the Voters of Teluk Intan" to underline the message the voters want to convey in the by-election.

Tonight, we wish to present "Another Ten Fundamental Demands and Aspirations of the Voters of Teluk Intan" to be conveyed to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Barisan Nasional Government on Polling Day.

These "Another Ten Fundamental Demands and Aspirations of the Voters of Teluk Intan" are as follows:


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