Restoration of a Strong and Effective Opposition in Penang State should be the primary mission for Sungai Bakap voters in the by-election

Speech (III)
- Sungai Bakap by-election
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Saturday): The restoration of a strong and effective opposition in the Penang State should be the primary mission for Sungai Bakap voters in the by-election.

In the April 1995 general elections, the DAP not only failed in our Tanjong 3 project to capture the state government in Penang, we were also completely wiped out, except for the survival of the lone Assemblywoman Sdri Chong Eng .

Although Chong Eng has done her valiant best in the Penang State Assembly, a lone voice remains a lone voice in a sea of 32 other voices.

In the final analysis, it is the people of Penang who are the real losers in the DAP's electoral debacle in the April 1995 general elections, for there is no strong and effective band of DAP elected representatives to provide the necessary check-and-balance to ensure a good, responsible and responsive government.

Between 1990 to 1995, when the DAP had first 14 and then 13 State Assemblymen, the Penang Chief Minister and the entire State Exco were kept on their toes, and they were very fearful of DAP Tanjong 3 project - and the final winners were the people, whose problems and concerns were always given serious and urgent attention.

During this period, it would not be wrong to say that the state government was actively on the look-out for the people's problems to try to resolve them for fear that they might be championed by the DAP.

But the situation had changed after the DAP's electoral debacle in the 1995 general elections, where the Penang State Government felt so confident and safe after the landslide victory in winning 32 out of 33 seats, that it is no more the government looking for people's problems to resolve, but the people having to run after the government to address their problems.

Immediately after the landslide victory of the Barisan Nasional in the April 1995 general elections, the people were "rewarded" with increases in ferry fares, quit rents and assessment rates.

On Nomination Day, Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon said that it was vital that the Penang Barisan Nasional win the Sungai Bakap by-election to ensure that there is political stability in the state.

This is most shocking. Is Tsu Koon saying that if the impossible happens, and the DAP wins the Sungai Bakap by-election on Nov. 8 and Goh Kheng Huat becomes the State Assemblyman for Sungai Bakap, it would create a situation where there would be no political stability in Penang State Government and State Assembly and that it would usher in an era of political chaos in Penang? I never knew Goh Kheng Huat is held in such high regard and even fear by the Penang Chief Minister and the Barisan Nasional state government.

When the DAP had 13 Assemblymen between 1990-1995, and Tsu Koon had a seven-seat majority, he never complained that there was no political stability in Penang. Why then should he be talking about the lack of political stability if the DAP gets another Assemblyman just enough to ensure that there is not only a proposer but a seconder for a motion to ensure that it is debated in the Assembly - with Barisan Nasional still controlling 31 out of 33 seats?

Does Tsu Koon want Chong Eng to resign so that the Penang Barisan Nasional can have full political stability with the entire Penang State Assembly composed of Barisan members only?

There is no doubt that if after the 1995 general elections there had been a strong and effective DAP presence in Penang politics, as between 1990-1995, Penang would not have lost out to Kedah as the site for the Northern Region International Airport and the Rent Control Repeal Act would not have been implemented in a manner without taking into full consideration the legitimate rights of the poor and the low-income to social justice as being guaranteed alternative low-cost accommodation before eviction.

The Sungai Bakap by-election can be very important in signifying that the people want a return to the Penang politics between 1990-1995, when there is a strong and effective DAP to keep the Penang State Government on its toes to uphold and defend the people's rights and interests.


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