DAP seeks urgent dialogue with the  Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) today on its decision to pledge full support to Barisan Nasional which could save Barisan Nasionalís two-thirds parliamentary  majority and  result in the DAP suffering unprecedented electoral defeat even  worse than 1995

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): DAP is seeking an urgent dialogue with the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) today on its decision to pledge full support to Barisan Nasional which could save the  Barisan Nasionalís two-thirds parliamentary majority and result in the DAP suffering unprecedented electoral defeat even worse than in 1995.

DAP will like to know when the MCCBCHS took the decision to pledge its support for the Barisan Nasional, whether it was an unanimous decision, who were the representatives of the various religions who were represented at the meeting which took the fateful decision and why such a decision was taken without consultation with the Barisan Alternative parties or at least with the DAP when we had worked closely in the past to defend and uphold the constitutional freedom of religion in Malaysia.

In his statement announcing MCCBCHS support for Barisan Nasional, MCCBCHS general secretary R. Thiagaraja said:

Has the MCCBCHS such short memory as to have forgotten that the DAP was the only political party in the seventies and eighties which flew the standard of a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural Malaysia, opposing not only a one-religion, but a one-language and one-culture Malaysia?

Let me remind Thiagaraja that one reason for my  second detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA) during the Operation Lalang mass arrests in October 1987 and 19-month incarceration was because of the DAPís firm and uncompromising stand against a one-religion Malaysia.

When I was detained for the second time under the ISA during Operation Lalang 1987, I was served with  ten "allegations of fact" to justify my  detention for posing a threat to national security.

Three of these so-called "facts of allegation" relate to my opposition to a "one-language, one-culture, one-religion" Malaysia and my  defence of the freedom of religion of non-Muslim Malaysians - in particular my taking up of the case of an underaged Chinese girl in Kelantan who was forced to embrace the Islamic faith without parental consent or knowledge.

I find it most galling that  after sacrificing my personal liberty in the defence of freedom of religion, I should now be accused by the MCCBCHS of threatening freedom of religion and supporting a one-religion law and Malaysia.

DAP will want  in particular to discuss with the MCCBCHS the proposal by its President, A. Vaithilingam as reported  in the local press today that DAP "break out" of the Barisan Alternative and dissociate from PAS. We would like  to know firstly, whether this is the official stand of the MCCBCHS and secondly, the reasons for the MCCBCHS to arrive at such a political recommendation.

We would also want to know whether the private memberís bill of  PAS Deputy President Hadi Awang  on  "Control and Restriction of Propagation  of Non-Muslim Religions (Federal Territories) 1999"  in the last Parliamentary meeting was an important factor in the MCCBCHS stand to pledge support for the Barisan Nasional.

If so, we would want to ask the MCCBCHS why it again has such short memory as to forget that in 1988, DAP was the only party whose State Assemblymen opposed and voted against the passage of "The Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment" in the various UMNO-controlled states such as  Perak, Selangor,  Johore, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Kedah - which were fully by the MCA and Gerakan State  Assemblymen throughout the country!

At that time, did MCCBCHS make a public call on MCA and Gerakan  to "break away" from Barisan Nasional, or at least to call on the people to vote against Barisan Nasional - in the same way that the MCCBCHS is urging Malaysians  to vote the Barisan Nasional on Nov. 29?

It would appear that the personal sacrifices of DAP leaders, who went to jail and suffer political persecution as well as the DAPís consistent and principled stand to oppose "The Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Enactment" in the various states now count for nothing to MCCBCHS, which does not mind if the DAP is decimated as a result of its unfair public position.

DAP will like to find out from MCCBCHS why it has been convinced by the   fraudulent propaganda line of MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and Islamic State when it should be particularly vigilant in an election which is already the "dirtiest" in the nationís history on the first two days of the election campaign.

The MCCBCHS stand could result in the following outcome in the tenth general election on Monday: Barisan Nasional swept back to power with a landslide victory in full command of more than two-thirds parliamentary majority, PAS the leading opposition party in Parliament with 20 - 25 MPs while the DAP wiped out from Parliament for the first time in three decades, or at most having one or two MPs.

In our dialogue, DAP wants to find out from the MCCBCHS whether it thinks such a outcome on Mondayís polls is the best safeguard for freedom of religion in Malaysia!

The MCCBCHS should immediately rescind its pledge to support Barisan Nasional in the general election before  irreparable damage is done  to itself as well as to freedom of religion in Malaysia.

Let me encapsulate for the MCCBCHS  the DAPís stand on the Islamic state as follows:

DAP will like to know from the MCCBCHS where the DAP has gone wrong with regard to our above position on the Islamic State.

It is very peculiar that two days ago, Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik made the forecast that the DAP would pull out of the Barisan Alternative in the last minute of the election campaign.

This line was immediately echoed by the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon yesterday, who denounced such a last-minute DAP pull-out from the Barisan Alternative as most "unprincipled".

What political game are Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon playing?  I hope Keng Yaik and Tsu Koonís "political game" has nothing to do with the statement by Vaithilingam yesterday.

It is clear that there would be an intense attack on the DAP for co-operating with PAS in the Barisan Alternative, and to demand that the DAP "break out" of the front - and yet what frightens Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon most would be any last-minute DAP pull-out from  the Barisan Alternative.

The question of DAPís pull-out from the  Barisan Alternative does not arise.  DAP is co-operating with PAS, KeADILan and PRM  to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance and not to create an Islamic state or introduce hudud laws.


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