I will not cling to any party position if the party leadership or rank-and-file agrees with Fan Yew Teng that I should retire from politics

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): I respect the views of  the Perak DAP Deputy Chairman, Sdr. Fan Yew Teng, that Karpal and I should resign from our  posts following the partyís humiliating defeat in the general election.

He said that both of us were among the strongest advocates in the party for the pact with PAS under the Barisan Alternatif and that what we did was wrong as it was a big mistake by joining Barisan Alternatif.

He said that it was clear that the pact with PAS had hurt the DAP and that if not for the pact, the DAP would have captured many seats.

Let me state at the outset that I will not cling to any party position if the party leadership or rank-and-file agrees with Fan that I should retire from politics.  I have no doubt that Karpal takes the same position.

I confirm that Fan had twice  advocated at party brain-storming sessions  that the DAP break with PAS and pull out of the Barisan Alternatif.

I myself had repeatedly warned that DAPís co-operation with PAS in the Barisan Alternatif posed great risks for the DAP although I advocated it.

As I said at the final DAP General Election National Conference on 14th November 1999 (where Fan did not repeat his call for the DAPís pull-out of the Barisan Alternatif), DAP could either win an unprecedented victory in the partyís history  or suffer unprecedented defeat as a result of our teaming up with PAS, KeADILan and PRM to form the Barisan Alternative.

I had said at the time that fighting on our own, the DAP could look forward to winning 20 to 25 parliamentary seats.  In teaming up with PAS, KeADILan and PRM to form Barisan Alternatif, assuming the best results, the DAP could look forward to 30 to 35 seats.

I asked whether it was  worthwhile hoping to win an extra five to ten parliamentary seats in the Barisan Alternatif when the risks were so high that the DAP might  suffer unprecedented defeat - not  because it was an  opportunistic and indefensible alliance, but because it gave the Barisan Nasional with its virtual monopoly of the 3Ms of money, media and government  machinery the opportunity to confuse,  mislead and scare the voters about the real issues at stake in the next general election.

This is what I said:

I stand by these words. I believe that the political decision taken by the DAP to co-operate with the PAS, KeADILan and PRM in Barisan Alternatif to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds majority to break the four-decade mould of Malaysian politics of "divide and rule" along racial and religious lines was the right and correct one.

This was because no opposition party, whether DAP, PAS or KeADILan on its own could smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by breaking its two-thirds parliamentary majority - but collectively, the Barisan Alternatif stands a chance of achieving this political breakthrough by securing 70 to 75 parliamentary seats.

The  decision to co-operate with PAS in the Barisan Alternatif on the common manifesto "Towards A Just Malaysia"  was taken not only by the DAP Central Executive Committee after numerous meetings and discussions but also by the DAP National Congress, which adopted an unanimous resolution in Kuala Lumpur  on 9th September 1999 "endorsing the co-operation of DAP with other opposition parties to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance".

Fan also attended the Party National Congress in Kuala Lumpur in September this year and voted for the resolution.

Despite the catastrophic defeat suffered by the DAP in the Nov. 29 election, I believe that the DAP decision to work with PAS in the Barisan Alternatif was the correct, proper, honourable and noble one - taking high calculated political risks where the  DAP might lose big in the hope of seizing the golden political opportunity of breaking the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-third majority.

One reason I moved from Tanjong to Bukit Bendera was to send out the message that for the sake of justice and democracy in Malaysia, it was not only the DAP which was taking high calculated political risk, as DAP Secretary-General I was prepared to personally take such high calculated political risks myself in the hope that it could help in providing the national momentum to achieve a political breakthrough for democracy and Malaysia on the eve of the new millennium.

It was not to be, but I do not think the DAP should wallow in regrets and self-pity.  We have proved that just as in the past 33 years, DAP leaders were prepared to make great personal sacrifices for the party cause for an united, just, democratic and prosperous Malaysia, we have  proved to Malaysians that DAP as a political party is neither selfish nor greedy but is prepared to make sacrifices for a new Malaysia in the new millennium where politics would be less dominated by race and religion but revolve around the issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Unless the DAP decision to co-operate with PAS in the Barisan Alternatif in the last general election was wrong and a great political blunder, or had dishonourable intentions as to secretly support the Islamic state objective of PAS,  this is not the time for division inside the party.

The question is where the DAP goes from here.  There have been mounting pressure from inside and outside the party that the DAP should sever co-operation with PAS.  But there are also widespread concerns that DAP might withdraw from the Barisan Alternatif.

The avalanche of emails which the party had received since the Nov. 29 polls reflect both views.

This is one email I received on 1st December 1999:

If we sincerely believe that the DAP's co-operation with PAS, KeADILan and PRM was to seize the historic opportunity to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds majority, break the mould of Malaysian politics based on racial and religious "divide and rule" and usher in a new politics grounded on the Barisan Alternative's common manifesto "Towards A Just Malaysia", we should persevere in our pioneering political efforts unless PAS makes such an opposition co-operation completely untenable because of disrespect and insensitivities of the PAS state governments of Kelantan and Trengganu to the rights and sensitivities of the diverse races and religions in Malaysia and refusal to honour both the spirit and letter of the Barisan Alternative common manifesto.

These are very difficult and challenging times.   DAP must persist in our great struggle for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.  We welcome comments, advice, suggestions and criticisms from Malaysians as to how the Party can continue to play an important role in this political struggle.

However, we are also aware that there are detractors as well as "political vultures" who wish to exploit  the  partyís catastrophic defeat in the Nov. 29 general election to their advantage - many of whom have come out of their woodworks in the past week.

Some of them are trying  to sow distrust or give the party a bad public image by concocting lies and falsehoods.  One such line is to allege that the DAP Candidate Selection Committee had discriminated against experienced and senior party leaders like Fan Yew Teng by not offering him a parliamentary seat.

In actual fact, Fan was  initially offered the Kampar parliamentary seat which he declined on health grounds.  However, he was later persuaded to contest for a Perak state assembly seat and stood in Tebing Tinggi, regarded as one of the best DAP state seats in the Kinta Valley.  Unfortunately, Fan lost by 1,441 votes.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman