DAP welcomes the assurance of Anwar and other Barisan Nasional leaders that they accept the verdict of the people of Teluk Intan and the undertaking by Ramli Ngah that the government will honour its development pledges in Teluk Intan

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): I welcome the assurance by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other Barisan Nasional leaders that they accept the verdict of the people of Teluk Intan in creating a Richter 6 "political earthquake" and the undertaking by the Perak Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah that the government would honour its development pledges despite the by-election defeat in Teluk Intan.

I will give personal attention to the fulfilment of the development pledges of the Barisan Nasional to Teluk Intan and I propose calling on the Perak Mentri Besar in his office in Ipoh with the newly-elected DAP MP for Teluk Intan, M. Kulasegaran early next month.

However, Anwar and all the other Barisan Nasional leaders are wrong if they attribute "sympathy vote" to the Richter 6 political earthquake, for they will then be doing a great injustice to the voters of Teluk Intan who wanted the Teluk Intan 20-Point on their fundamental demands and aspirations to be taken seriously by the government.

When the people of Teluk Intan responded to the DAPís call to "write history and create miracle", it is not to show sympathy to the DAP for our worst electoral debacle in the 1995 general elections, but to pass a mid-term judgement on the Barisan Nasional government and to speak up on behalf of all Malaysians as to their concerns and dissatisfactions about many things which had gone wrong in the past two years.

High on the list of these concerns and unhappiness of the people are corruption; abuse of powers by the Attorney-General in his selective prosecution of the Opposition and NGOs; inflation and the unjustified increases of privatised services like the latest Tenaga Nasional hike in power tariffs; unfair alienation of land; insensitivity to the rights and proper place for the various languages, cultures and religions in Malaysia, like the most unpopular advance of RTM new telecasts of Mandarin and Tamil news by another half an hour; etc.

Running through the Teluk Intan 20 Fundamental Demands and Aspirations is the common theme of justice and fair play.

It will be most unfortunately if the Barisan Nasional government cannot understand the real reason for the Richter 6 "political earthquake" in Teluk Intan on May 17 and just dismiss it as "sympathy votes" for the DAP.

However, it would appear that the Barisan Nasional has not understood this common underlying aspirations of Malaysians for justice and fair play.

For instance, the DAPís "miraculous" win in Teluk Intan was not in any of the RTM news headlines at all. The first headline for RTMís 7 a.m. news was about Cyberjaya and the second headline was the statement by the Deputy Education Minister, Dr. Fong Chan Onn about enforcing no smoking in the schools.

There is no doubt that if the Barisan Nasional had won in the by-election, even if by a slender margin of 20 to 30 votes, RTM would have blared it as the first headline item on the RTM news for the whole day.

Malaysians can now guess the outcome of by-election results, solely on whether it is reported on RTM news or not!

It is such gross injustice and lack of fair play which the people of Teluk Intan voted against.

Another case of glaring injustice took place immediately after the results of the Teluk Intan "Richter 6" by-election result.

After the Returning Officer, Haji Mustapha Said, had announced the results of the Teluk Intan by-election at 10.25 p.m., I had waited together with Kulasegaran and other DAP leaders and Members of Parliament for the customary conclusion of the election - where the respective candidates are invited by the Returning Officer to say a few words of appreciation.

After we have waited for a while, and there was no sign that the Returning Officer would be asking Kulasegaran to say a few words, I suggested to Kulasegaran to inform the Returning Officer that we intend to leave the Counting Centre. Kulasegaran checked with the Returning Officer whether there would be the customary short speech by the candidates, and he was given the negative answer.

Is it thinkable that the Returning Officer would have denied the Barisan Nasional candidate the customary courtesy to say a few words after the announcement of the results if the BN candidate had won in Teluk Intan on Saturday night?

The fact that the Returning Officer is also the Teluk Intan District Officer, whose various actions were the subject of public criticisms in the by-election and even the cause for the Barisan Nasional candidate to lose many votes, is no justification for him to act the way he did.

It is again such type of arrogance of power by government servants who have alienated the Barisan Nasional government from the people.

I hope Haji Mustapha Said would not try to be vindictive or even unco-operative in Teluk Intan to the newly elected Member of Parliament, or he would have to face the wrath of the people, just as he had to face the wrath of the voters in the Teluk Intan by-election.


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