He also called for the immediate establishment of the National Commission of Human Rights "comprising members of undisputed credibility and integrity".
He said that the first task of the National Commission of Human Rights is to investigate the "greatest violation of the human rights of Malaysians in the 42-year history of the nation". The Commission should invite and investigate complaints about "massive human rights violations, including free speech, the right to vote and the right to development, in the tenth general election resulting in its being universally recognised as the dirtiest election in the nation’s history".
The DAP National Chairman said this in a reply to HAKAM (National Human Rights Society) President, Ramdas Tikamdas, who wrote to Kit Siang on 6th December 1999 urging him to continue "to be the voice of ‘liberty and justice’ for the ‘welfare and happiness’ of all Malaysians" despite his recent election defeat, ending his 30 years as MP and 25 years as Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Ramdas said in his letter:
"The outcome of the 10th general elections will prove to be a turning point in the evolution of our system of parliamentary democracy in more ways than one, and many Malaysians are only now slowly coming to grips with what they have wrought.
"The massive deluge of the campaign of fear and divide and rule shamelessly engineered by the powers that be through the blitz of the mainstream and electronic media have unfortunately found their quarry - and the Chinese swing, which have shut out the halls of parliament to the leaders of the DAP and eminent persons from the civil society, could sadly slow the march of human rights, justice and the rule of law in the context of our multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
"HAKAM would like to put on record its tribute and appreciation to you for your selfless and fearless long-public service in the quest for a more just and equitable society and commitment to the principles of parliamentary democracy and good governance.
We have no doubt that the cherished ideals and principles that you have steadfastly championed through the long years of trials and tribulations and personal sacrifices will not be in vain and your precept and example will surely be a source of inspiration and an example for the young generation of Malaysians to emulate.
"We sincerely urge you to continue to be the voice of ‘liberty and justice’ and for the ‘welfare and happiness’ of all Malaysians as promised in the Proclamation of Independence."
In his reply to Ramdas, Kit Siang said he was "deeply moved and honoured" by his "kind letter of encouragement to continue in the battle for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for Malaysia in the new millennium".
He said his personal defeat in the recent general election was a secondary issue to the bigger concern pinpointed by Ramdas that the outcome of the tenth general election would be "a turning point" for Malaysian parliamentary democracy and a setback for human rights, justice and the rule of law in Malaysia’s plural society.
"The first concrete step in this direction would have been taken on Nov. 29, 1999 if the Chinese had not succumbed to the MCA/Gerakan’s politics of fear and falsehoods in making them believe that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State - and Gerakan/MCA campaigners even went to the extent of frightening the voters of Bukit Bendera that if I am elected, the Chinese cannot eat pork, take alcohol, go to temples, beautiful women cannot find jobs and that there would be a chopping of hands and feet - and filled the opposition benches in Parliament not only with a stronger PAS, but also a stronger DAP, a stronger Keadilan and with MPs from PRM - laying the basis for a new Malaysian politics less dominated by race and religion but issues-based on questions of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
"This is because the Barisan Nasional would then have to respond to the political challenge of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious opposition front instead of at present, where the sole concern of UMNO for the next five years is how to beat off the political challenge of PAS by a spiral of Islamisation policies - without having to bother about the political challenge from DAP.
"By conducting the dirtiest general election in the nation’s history, starting with the disenfranchisement of 680,000 new voters, the Barisan Nasional had robbed Malaysians of the historic opportunity for a political and nation-building breakthrough and set the nation on a course fraught with uncertainty and perils.
"I see three immediate dangers.
"It is sad that instead of recasting the Malaysian political landscape by breaking the political mould of ethnic and religious ‘divide and rule’, the 1999 general election has placed justice, freedom, democracy and good governance under greater threat.
"HAKAM and all Malaysians, whether organisation or individual, who
are concerned about these great principles, should not lose hope
but must gird themselves for the even greater battles for justice, freedom,
democracy and good governance in the new millennium. We must persevere
to win the war to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics and
nation-building although we have lost a battle in the last general election.
"I regret that I am unable to attend the International Human Rights Day commemorative assembly organised by the HAKAM and the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council as well as the book launch of HAKAM’s publication "Human Rights and the National Commission" to be held in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow as I have to be in Penang.
"May be, one of the first post-election initiatives that can be taken up by HAKAM and all Malaysians who cherish human rights and democracy is to ensure the immediate establishment of the National Commission of Human Rights comprising members of undisputed credibility and integrity, and whose first task is to invite and investigate complaints about massive human rights violations, including free speech, the right to vote and the right to development, in the tenth general election resulting in its being universally recognised as the dirtiest election in the nation’s history.
"The tenth general election, where there had been massive cheating and frauds to steal away the democratic rights of Malaysians to free, fair and clean elections, is undoubtedly the greatest violation of the human rights of Malaysians in the 42-year history of the nation."