My defeat and removal from Parliament first time in three decades  will not be completely in vain if it can make the Chinese  resistant to  the Gerakan/MCA  campaign of falsehoods and fear in all future elections leading to their greater political sophistication and maturity like the Malays


Speech
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DAP thanksgiving reception for Bukit Bendera general  election workers
by
Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang,  Saturday): I want to thank the numberless Malaysians regardless of race, religion, age or gender who had poured out their sorrow, concern and support through email, faxes, letters and phone calls at my defeat in Bukit Bendera parliamentary seat  on November 29, 1999.

This is a letter which I received today from a Penang couple, Mr. and Mrs. Lim,  who wrote:
 

I want to publicly thank all the numberless Malaysians who have extended their encouragement and support to me since my defeat in the recent  general election as I have not been able to  reply and thank them.

I want in particular to thank this couple who have decided against emigrating and to stay and support the great fight for justice in Malaysia.
My defeat and removal from Parliament first time in three decades  will not be completely in vain if it can make Malaysians, and in particular the Chinese,  wary of the Barisan Nasional campaign of falsehoods and fear in all future elections.

If my parliamentary defeat can make the Chinese in Malaysia resistant to the MCA/Gerakan campaign of falsehoods and scare, leading to their  greater political sophistication and maturity like the Malays in the country, then my parliamentary defeat on Nov. 29, 1999 would have served  a purpose.
But I am not very sure whether my parliamentary defeat  could have this effect.

On polling night, when the DAPís catastrophic results were out, I felt a sense of despair, not so much over my election defeats, but at the loss of a golden political opportunity to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics and      recast the Malaysian political landscape in the new millennium by smashing  the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds parliamentary majority.

If the  Chinese had not succumbed to the MCA/Gerakanís  politics of fear and falsehoods in making them believe that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State, and had instead voted solidly for the DAP, then the  opposition benches in Parliament  would not only have a stronger PAS, but  also a stronger DAP and  stronger Keadilan - 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 nationís 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 uncertainties and perils.

DAP is prepared to accept the verdict of the people and be rejected in the polls, but it must be for the right reasons, as for instance, repudiating the DAPís call to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds majority to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

In the recent general election, the Chinese voters swung against the DAP for all the wrong reasons, as for instance, in Bukit Bendera, succumbing to the Gerakan/MCA propaganda of falsehoods and fear that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic state, and 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.

If the MCA/Gerakan propaganda is true, that my election as MP for Bukit Bendera will lead to the serious deprivation of the religious and cultural rights of the Chinese in Malaysia, then I deserve to be defeated on Nov. 29, 1999.

But how could this be true - when in the past 33 years, the DAP was the only political party in the country which had consistently and courageously spoken up in the defence of religious freedom and cultural democracy inside  Parliament and the State Assemblies and outside, even at the price of many DAP leaders undergoing detention under the Internal Security Act (ISA)  for their actions?

It would appear that I had gone to detention twice under the ISA for nothing - as the people had forgotten, for instance,  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 in 1985 who was forced to embrace the Islamic faith without parental consent or knowledge.

The Chinese rejection of an Islamic state as unacceptable and unsuitable for a plural society like Malaysia is right and proper - as this had been the founding principle of the party,  that Malaysia shall remain forever a secular democratic state.
 
The issue in the recent general election is not about an Islamic state, but whether there could be a political breakthrough for the first time in the nationís history to break the Barisan Nasionalís political hegemony and two-thirds majority to start a nation-wide movement to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

On Nov. 29, 1999, the Chinese voters should have voted against Barisan Nasional injustices like the Lim Guan Eng and  Anwar Ibrahim cases; against corruption, cronyism and nepotism; against gross abuses of power and  lack of accountability in the management of public funds and EPF monies; against the crisis of confidence in the rule of law, the judiciary, the Attorney-Generalís Chambers, the police, and a whole host of wrongs under the Barisan Nasional government.

However, the MCA and Gerakan campaign of falsehoods and fear had succeeded in scaring the Chinese voters into believing that the biggest issue to be decided  in the 1999 general election is the Islamic state issue and that I had become the greatest champion and defender of Islamic state, and should be voted out in Parliament for the first time in three decades.

The question is whether the Chinese voters have become more sophisticated after the 1999 general election and have developed the immunity not to fall prey to the MCA/Gerakan campaign of falsehoods and fear so that such dirty tricks could not succeed in future elections.

If my defeat and removal from Parliament for the first time in three decades could help to contribute to this greater political sophistication and maturity among the Chinese electorate, then there is something positive from my political setback in the recent general election.

(11/12/99)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman