Malaysian voters should break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony,  end its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority and give a final warning that Barisan Nasional will be  voted out of office in five yearsí time if it does not  restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance


Speech
-
DAP General Elections Conference
by
Lim Kit Siang 

(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): With the next general election around the corner, I am reminded of Charles Dickensí opening of his Tale of Two Cities, as follows: In the 10th general election, the country can grasp the unprecedented opportunity to create a political breakthrough to end the 42-year political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional to allow the building of a New Malaysia based on justice, freedom, democracy and good governance or  there could be a throwback to an even darker age at any time in Malaysian nation-building.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad yesterday said he was confident that the Barisan Nasional will win the coming general election but the challenge will be to deny the Opposition its goal of taking one-third of the seats.

He said: "The problem is whether we will achieve our aim to get a two-thirds majority but we think we can do that."

I agree with Mahathir.  The greatest issue in the next general election is not whether the Barisan Nasional can be toppled from power, but whether it could be the start of a two-step process  to displace Barisan Nasional from power: step one, denying the Barisan Nasional its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority in the coming election and step two, ending the unbroken rule of the Barisan Nasional government in the subsequent general election whether 2,004 or 2,005.

Malaysian voters, regardless of race or religion,  should unite to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony,  end its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority and give a final warning that Barisan Nasional will be  voted out of office in five yearsí time if it does not  restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Yesterday, MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, who had declared that 99 per cent of the Chinese in the next election would vote for Barisan Nasional, warned that the if the people deprived the Barisan Nasional of its two-thirds parliamentary majority, this tantamounts to helping PAS establish an Islamic state.

On 9th August, during his pre-election tour of Malacca, the Prime Minister himself raised the spectre of May 13 when he said  that there would be May 13 and racial riots if the Barisan Nasional was not returned with a strong two-thirds majority in the next general election.

These are very irresponsible statements and I can understand the proposal yesterday by the former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam that  the general election should be called as soon as possible in view of the "rearing of the ugly head of racial politics" and that "The longer we wait, more people will jump onto the bandwagon and exploit racial and religious issues in their political campaigns".

Threatening voters that there would be May 13 and racial riots if the Barisan Nasional does not secure a two-thirds parliamentary majority or that the denial of two-thirds majority to the Barisan Nasional would mean helping PAS establish an Islamic state is the height of irresponsible politicking as well as showing utter contempt for the intelligence of the electorate.

After the last UMNO Supreme Council meeting a week ago, Mahathir announced that Umno would immediately launch a large-scale  campaign against lies and accusations spread by the opposition. This is only a euphemism for UMNO and Barisan Nasional to launch a systematic campaign in the country to spread lies and falsehoods about the Opposition.

DAP is very concerned that Mahathir will be proved right that the next general election would be the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.

No opposition party, whether DAP, KeADILan, PAS or PRM want the next general election to be the "dirtiest" in history, for this will deny the ten million voters the full and free opportunity to exercise their constitutional right to shape the political destiny of Malaysia with the beginning of the new millennium.

Furthermore, no opposition party has the ability or capability to make the next general election the "dirtiest" in history, as only the Barisan Nasional, with its entrenched position of political hegemony in the country,  is capable of doing such a thing.

This was why DAP had repeatedly called  on the Election Commission to convene an urgent  all-party meeting to prevent the  run-up to the general election into a season of lies and falsehoods and the next election being the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.

All these decades, however, the Election Commission has been a failure as far as ensuring that general elections in Malaysia are free, fair and clean as it is powerless to check the electoral abuses of the ruling parties, whether it be the politics of money, unfair monopoly of the media, unprincipled use of the politics of falsehood, fear and blackmail or even blatant abuses of government funds, machinery and resources for Barisan Nasional vote-winning campaign.

What we need to ensure that the next election is not the "dirtiest" in the nationís history is to have a separate commission specifically entrusted with the duty to ensure that the next general election is free, fair, clean and ethical and that it would not degenerate into the "dirtiest" in history.

Although Musa Hitam is still an UMNO member, and has said that he would always give a helping hand to the UMNO election campaign, I have enough confidence in his sense of fairness and responsibility to propose that he head a Clean, Fair and Ethical Election Commission, which should have the power to receive and investigate complaints from any political party, organisation
or citizen about any  malpractices inimical to the conduct of a free, fair, clean and ethical election campaign and to make public its investigations.

The question is whether UMNO and Barisan Nasional would have confidence in Musa to head such a Clean, Fair and Ethical Election Commission to ensure that the next general election would not be the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.

In fact, let all political parties made a commitment to make the next general election, the 10th in the nationís history and the one to take Malaysia into the new millennium, the most clean, fair and ethical in the nationís history.

As Mahathir has himself said that the issue in the next election is not the toppling of Barisan Nasional, but whether it could continue to command a two-thirds parliamentary majority, let him set an example of clean, free, fair electoral conduct by declaring that the Barisan Nasional would fully respect the verdict of the people whether they decide to give or deny the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority in the next election, and eschew all politics of fear and intimidation as threatening May 13 and racial riots.

(17/10/99)


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