Malaysians have not only lost a golden political opportunity to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by denying its two-thirds majority, but set the nation on a very uncertain and perilous future with the marginalisation of DAP in Parliament and Malaysian politics


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Penang,  Tuesday): I have been asked whether my leaving Tanjong to contest in Bukit Bendera was a mistake in retrospect.

From the personal point of view, I will probably still be a Member of Parliament if I had remained in Tanjong and not moved to Bukit Bendera.

From the political standpoint, however, there is no doubt that it was  a correct decision for me to contest in Bukit Bendera in order to spearhead the campaign in Penang state and the nation  to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds majority.

I have no regrets whatsoever in taking greater political risks in moving from Tanjong to Bukit Bendera.  My only regret is that I had failed to convince the people of Kebun Bunga and Bukit Bendera to be in the forefront of the movement to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics in the new millennium.

The political risks I took in leaving Tanjong to contest in Bukit Bendera was nothing compared to the political risks the DAP was taking in the country in co-operating with the other Opposition parties, namely PAS, KeADILan and PRM to form the Alternative Front.

As far as the DAP is concerned, there was no way the Alternative Front could topple the Barisan Nasional and capture power in the tenth general election. But it was the golden political opportunity, the first time in the nationís 42-year history, to break the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority and political hegemony to lay the basis for a new Malaysia where there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

I said last night that if the DAP had contested the general election on our own without  associating with other opposition parties in the Barisan Alternative, we were quite confident of winning 20 to 25 seats.

By co-operating with other Opposition parties in the Barisan Alternative, we can at most win another five to ten seats, making a total of 30 to 35 seats. But we would also have to take very high political risks of either winning big or losing big as we would also give the MCA and Gerakan the opportunity to confuse, mislead and scare the non-Malay voters, particularly the Chinese into believing that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS and an Islamic State.

From the DAPís selfish political interests, DAP should not enter into any such Opposition understanding, incurring the risks of being wiped out just for the sake of winning another five to ten parliamentary seats.

DAP, however,  was not  formed just to win  20 to 25 seats but in order to establish and to realise the  vision of a Malaysia where there is  justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, and the DAP decided to take such high political risks for three reasons:

Firstly, we cannot let the unprecedented political opportunity pass to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds majority.  The DAP cannot on its own deny the Barisan two-thirds majority. In fact, no single Opposition party can deny the Barisan two-thirds majority.  It is only by all the Opposition parties coming together that there is a hope and chance of doing so.  In the event,  the Barisan Nasional missed losing its two-thirds majority by 21 seats - which would have been achieved if the DAP had won say 31 instead of 10 parliamentary seats yesterday.

Secondly, the DAPís consistent and uncompromising position in rejecting an Islamic state for Malaysia.

Thirdly, the DAPís 33-year track record that we are a political party of principles and convictions whose leaders were prepared to pay  a heavy price of personal sacrifices to defend their beliefs and principles.

In the event, the DAP has suffered a historic setback as the MCA and Gerakan suceeded in their Islamic State "trump card" to confuse, mislead and scare the voters into believing that a vote for DAP was a vote for PAS and an Islamic state.

MCA and Gerakan  put up banners with words saying that 'the final objective of PAS is to form an Islamic state'. They didn't say that the final objective of DAP is Malaysia shall  forever remain a democratic and secular country.

We took these political risks not for ourselves but for the sake of the people and country, to restore justice and freedom, democracy and good governance.

My personal defeat and setback is a secondary issue. What is of greater concern is the far-reaching political repercussions of yesterdayís general election result.
What I had feared most in the tenth general election has come to pass.  Malaysians have not only lost a golden political opportunity to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by denying its two-thirds parliamentary majority, but set the nation on a very uncertain and perilous future with the marginalisation of DAP in Parliament and Malaysian politics.

The 1999 general election elected 144 Barisan Nasional MPs and 44 Opposition MPs, comprising 27 PAS, five KeADILan, ten DAP and three PBS.

In most of  the past 30 years through seven Parliamentary terms, DAP had been the leading Parliamentary opposition party, having more seats than any other Opposition party.

The Leader of the Opposition in the new Parliament will not only  come from PAS, for the first time in 30 years, DAPís 10 MPs would be the partyís  weakest position in Parliament when compared to 27 PAS MPs.

The worst marginalisation of DAPís political and parliamentary strength will be a major setback for the DAPís final goal that Malaysia shall forever be a secular and democratic state.

In the past three decades, the DAP had been the outspoken, courageous and at most times lone political force for a democratic and secular Malaysia.

The DAPís voice has not  been silenced but gravely paralysed by yesterdayís general election result.

With UMNO losing two state governments and 27 Parliamentary seats to PAS, and with many seats won by UMNO with very small majorities, UMNO will be under great pressure to respond to the PAS challenge and to try to win back the Malay heartland by competing with PAS on the Islamic terrain with Islamisation policies.

With the DAP marginalised in Parliament and Malaysian politics as a result of yesterdayís polls, and with MCA, Gerakan and MIC  never able to exercise any check and balance on UMNO political hegemony, Malaysia is headed for a  very uncertain and perilous future.

DAP has to analyse and absorb the far-reaching consequences and repercussions of the 1999 general election result.  My personal defeat or victory is not important.  What is really important is whether the force for a democratic and secular Malaysia has been perilously paralysed in the next five years.

The DAP Central Executive Committee will meet on Thursday on the 1999 general election result and its long-term far-reaching consequences and repercussions.

The 10 new DAP MPs and eleven new State Assemblymen will meet on Friday on their role in a very changed political scenario for the next five years.

I have said last night that I would announce my plans for my political future in the next few days, and I have nothing to add to it at the moment.

(30/11/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP Secretary-General