Musa Hitam should be drafted into a national commission  to propose a democratic solution to the ballooning political crisis which is highly injurious to Malaysia’s international reputation as well as posing a great obstacle to national  economic recovery

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Penang, Sunday): In my speech in Parliament last Monday, I had said that the  1999 Budget  had been completely overshadowed by the political turmoils in the past  two months, highlighting the importance of the political fundamentals which must be addressed if the problems  of confidence- restoration and the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history are to be successfully overcome.

For this reason, the DAP had proposed in Parliament the  immediate resolution of the ballooning political crisis in Malaysia without which there can be no full confidence-restoration to effect the speediest economic turnaround and recovery in the shortest time possible.

I told Parliament that the political crisis in the country was not just about the unprecedented sacking, detention and heinous allegations levelled against former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, but goes beyond the case of Anwar Ibrahim and concerns the deep-seated hopes and aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Furthermore, the political crisis of confidence is very deep-seated, as it is the cumulation of the people’s frustrations over the years,  and the time  has come for the expansion of democratic space in Malaysia for the people to peacefully gather and demonstrate their aspirations for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

I also made very clear the DAP’s stand against  violence, both against peaceful demonstrators, innocent members of the public and the police, as completely unsuitable and unacceptable in  Malaysia’s plural society.

I had made two proposals for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to resolve the grave political crisis of confidence, credibility and legitimacy: either  to dissolve Parliament and call for new general elections to seek a clear national  mandate from the people, or to convene  an All-Party/NGOs Roundtable Conference to chart out a new political blueprint that can assure for all Malaysians greater democratic space, freedom and justice in the country.

The very heavy police presence in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, with Federal Reserve Unit and special police reinforcements brought in from various parts of the country, with the visible sight of scores of special police armed with M16 assault rifles and dressed in battle fatigues and black berets,  have ensured that the Federal Capital was comparatively incident-free despite widespread fears that yesterday might be worse than the previous Saturday.

Massive police presence however is not the answer to what is fundamentally a political challenge  rather than a police or security problem. The people’s right to express themselves peacefully in a democratic society must not be bottled up or  snuffed out by FRUs or M16s.

A political issue of the people’s demand for  justice, freedom, democracy and good governance must not be turned into a law-and-order situation and this is why  the government must  take the initiative to break the impasse by respecting the constitutional right of the people to assemble peaceably to express their legitimate concerns and aspirations as by issuing police permits for such peaceful gatherings.

I note that this is also generally the position of the former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam (the only other Home Minister in the 17-year Mahathir administration)  in his interview with Mingguan Malaysia today, where he pinpointed intolerance to criticism as a basic cause of the present  political crisis  and advocated a political solution to the political crisis.

He said:

He added:

The Prime Minister should seriously consider a political solution to the present political crisis, whose solution is not through a show of  massive police force but democratisation of the political process to win the hearts and minds of Malaysians.

The Prime Minister should draft Musa Hitam and other prominent and concerned Malaysians into a national commission  to propose a democratic solution to the ballooning political crisis which is highly injurious to Malaysia’s international reputation and poses a great obstacle to national economic recovery.


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