DAP CEC proposes  establishment of a Party Constitution Review Commission to review and  submit recommendations in keeping with the spirit of a New DAP to a Special DAP Party Congress to be held within 12 months

Media  Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday):  The DAP Central Executive Committee, at its meeting on Monday, 10th August 1998, decided to recommend to the DAP National Congress on August 22/23 that a Party Constitution Review Commission be set up to review and submit recommendations on amendments to the DAP Constitution in keeping with the spirit of a New DAP  to a Special DAP Party Congress which must be held within 12 months, which will also decide on proposals by branches for amendments to the Party Constitution.

The DAP Constitution Review Commission will also give in-depth study to the proposals on amendments to the Party Constitution which had been submitted by  various branches to the  DAP National Congress later this month, and the DAP National Congress would be asked to defer all proposals for party constitutional amendments to the Special DAP Party Congress on the Party Constitution to be held within 12 months.

A  lot of misleading information had been given out to the press about the forthcoming DAP National Congress.

In the last few days for instance, there has been a lot of publicity about a proposal by more than 40 branches to amend the party constitution "to democratise the party leadership and its administrative machinery to prevent manipulation by one or two leaders".  In actual fact, 22 branches have sent in a common set of amendments to the Party Constitution.

However, apart from the common  proposals to amend the Party Constitution by these 22 branches, there were also other proposals by other branches  to amend the Party Constitution, some of which are at variance with the amendments proposed by the 22 branches.

It is time for a far-reaching review of the DAP Constitution to see how it could be modernised to meet the challenges of a fast-changing era, although those who claim that the present DAP Constitution is not "democratic, relevant and meaningful to the members" are doing the Party and the party membership a great disservice.

Proposals to amend the Party Constitution should be part of the party reform, renewal and rejuvenation programme to create a New DAP based on the three-pronged approach of:

The time has come for a fuller consideration as to how the DAP Constitution could be amended to achieve party reform objectives, such as:

(i)  ensuring that CEC members are  self-leaders in an era of relentless change in the political, eocnomic, educational, social and cultural landscape - as in order to lead others, they  must first lead themselves;

(ii)  CEC leaders set an example of life-long learning to be able to generate and work with new ideas in the information revolution of a knowledge-based world where knowledge is power;

(iii)  CEC leaders should  be team leaders and not just team members in the party reform and renewal movement, whether at national, state or local levels, to be facilitators and spearhead the process of empowerment of new leaders, activists and institutions in the Party.

Some of the proposed amendments to the Party constitution submitted for the DAP National Congress later this month have merit, but some are disastrous and are likely to wreck the party if adopted.

There is a proposal for instance that the 13 principal office-bearers in the Party, namely the National Chairman, National Deputy Chairman, five National Vice Chairman, Secretary-General, Treasurer, National Organising Secretary, National Publicity Secretary, International Secretary and National Director of Political Education, be directly elected at the National Congress.

This proposal is a recipe for disaster, not only for the DAP, but also for any political party which adopts it, destroying  party leadership unity, cohesion and integrity - and this is why no political party in Malaysia practices it. In fact, as far as I know, I do not think there is any political party in the world which practices such leadership anarchy.

This is  like asking for changes in the national general elections system where the voters will have direct elections for the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, the Education Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defence Minister, the Information Minister, the Health Ministers and all the other individual Ministerial posts.

The result is a government leadership going in a dozen directions, with the Prime Minister having no control whatsoever over his Cabinet Ministers.

I am sure that those who are proposing direct elections for all the principal office-bearers in the DAP would never suggest direct elections for all the Cabinet posts in the country!

In any event, those proposing such leadership anarchy in the DAP, which will reduce the DAP leadership into a joke in Malaysian politics, would have the fullest opportunity to present their views to the Party Constitution Review Commission, and even to present these proposals to the Party Special Congress on Party Constitutional Amendments to be held within 12 months.


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