Support pledge by Malaysian Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism for the Barisan Nasional a major blow to DAP and Barisan Alternative


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya,  Thursday): The pledge by the Malaysian Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCBCHS) to suppport the Barisan Nasional in the general election is a major blow to DAP and Barisan Alternative.

It would probably the single biggest cause for the DAP to lose big instead of to win big - resulting in the DAP suffering an even worse defeat than the 1995 general election.

I respect the right of the MCBCHS to make its stand in the general election, although it is going to cost the DAP very dearly - resulting not only in my defeat in the Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat but the decimation of DAP parliamentary representation to its lowest ever or being wiped out from Parliament altogether.

A Star survey had forecast that 63 per cent of the voters would vote for Barisan Nasional, 21 per cent for PAS and five per cent for the DAP.  If this forecast is correct, then this would be translated into about 20-25 Parliamentary seats for PAS and 0 - 1 Parliamentary seat for DAP, as DAP must win five per cent of the national vote to win one per cent of the parliamentary seats.

I feel  sad at the MCBCHS stand, especially as I believe it was misconceived. The MCBCHS seems to have supported the propaganda of the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and Islamic state.  Is MCBCHS aware that UMNO is campaigning in Malay areas to tell the voters that a vote for PAS is a vote for DAP and tantamount to abandonment of an Islamic state?

Both MCA and UMNO are indulging in irresponsible politicking, but why has MCBCHS decided to get involved in such "dirtiest" election in the nationís history, nullifying all the contributions DAP leaders had made in the past three decade to defend and uphold the constitutionally-entrenched freedom of worship in Malaysia?

Has the MCBCHS so little confidence in the DAP leadership, despite the DAPís track record of 33 years of stand firm and unyielding on our political principles regardless of the trials and tribulations DAP leaders have to undergo, that it can fall prey to the MCA "trump card" that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and Islamic State?

Probably, the last straw that broke the camelís back leading to the MCBCHS pledging its support for Barisan Nasional is the private memberís bill of  PAS Deputy President Hadi Awangís  on  "Control and Restriction of Propagation  of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territories) 1999"  in the last Parliamentary meeting.

Since then MCA leaders have been attacking the DAP for having sold out to PAS and Liong Sik even accused me having secretly supported Hadiís private memberís bill on "Control and Restriction of Propagation  of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territory)".

Now, it would appear that the MCA Islamic State "trump card" is so powerful that the MCBCHS has also fallen prey to it.

MCBCHS seems to have a very short memory.  They should know that MCA leaders are not being honest and sincere when they attacked the DAP for supporting Hadiís private memberís bill on "Control and Restriction of Propagation  of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territory)", completely ignoring the fact that I had made clear the DAP stand right from the beginning that the DAP opposes Hadiís bill and would vote against it if there is a parliamentary vote.

But what is the real stand of Liong Sik and MCA on Hadiís bill on "Control and Restriction of Propagation  of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territory)"?  Is Liong Sik  opposing Hadiís private memberís bill because it had been proposed by a PAS leader but would have fully supported the very same bill if it had been moved by UMNO?

The answer is yes.  I am not  making any conjecture, but stating a fact. In 1988, MCA under the leadership of Liong Sik  gave full support to the enactment of "The Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment" in the various UMNO-controlled states with MCA State Assemblymen voting for them in Perak, Selangor,  Johore, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Kedah State Assemblies.

The only opposition votes came from DAP State Assemblymen in Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Johore.

Liong Sik and MCA  leaders should feel very ashamed of themselves that they are the very epitome of political opportunism in Malaysia  - political leaders who have no political principles whatsoever.

Liong Sik and MCA  oppose Hadiís private memberís bill not because of their stand against any "Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment", but merely because it was moved by a PAS leader. They would have fully supported such a bill if it had been moved by UMNO - as had happened in the various states with MCA  state assemblymen in 1988.

There is the great  difference between the DAP and MCA.  DAP takes a stand on principle, whether on the freedom of religion or a secular democratic state, and we will defend these principles and oppose any proposal or bill which contravenes them, whether they are made by UMNO or PAS.

This is why in all the state assemblies where the DAP had assemblymen, namely Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Malacca, the DAP opposed  "The Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment" - in fact, the DAP was the only lone voice of opposition, voting against their enactment.

The MCA under Liong Sik  however does not take any stand on principle but is guided by sheer political opportunism.  It will oppose any measure put forth by PAS and support any measure presented by UMNO.

DAPís stand that Malaysia shall remain forever a secular democratic Malaysia is a fundamental founding principle of the party which cannot be compromised.

We are realistic enough to know that we cannot ask PAS to abandon its founding party principle of an Islamic state, just as PAS must be realistic enough to know that it cannot ask the DAP to abandon our founding party principle that Malaysia shall forever be a secular democratic society.

While PAS leaders remain committed ideologically to an Islamic state, PAS leaders will also have to realise that in a plural society like Malaysia, with the diversity of races, religions, languages and cultures, an Islamic state is not a practical proposition.

Only a party which is consistent on political principles, like the DAP, can play this role - not MCA, which is pure political opportunism, opposing  "The Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment" if it is proposed by PAS but voting for it if proposed by UMNO.

It is  MCA  with its rank political opportunism which constitutes the greatest threat to the constitutional principle of freedom of religion in the new millennium.

(25/11/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP Secretary-General, Parliamentary Candidate for Bukit Bendera and State Assembly candidate for Kebun Bunga