Barisan Nasional leaders should give a commitment not to use politics of intimidation and blackmail, like threat of May 13, in next general election if they really respect the right of people to elect candidates and parties of their choice

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar said in New York yesterday  that "democracy was alive and well" in Malaysia as "evidenced in the general  elections, the number of political parties and the presence of the opposition",  and the defeat of the ruling coalition in the states of Pulau Pinang and  Kelantan  to the opposition in previous elections.

He said  that the people had the right "to boot us out" in the next general  election if they felt that the present government had been in power for too long, although he did not foresee  that happening.

The important question, however, is whether the next general election is going to be a free, fair and clean electoral contest, as without these attributes, Syed Hamidís claims that "democracy was live and well" lacks credibility.

Democracy has in fact  been the greatest victim of the Barisan Nasional political monopoly in Malaysia, with human rights suffering setbacks on all fronts. The  "fundamental liberties" of Malaysians as enshrined in Part II of the Malaysian Constitution, whether liberty of the person, freedom of speech, assembly, association have been systematically emasculated and eroded over the decades, and Malaysia in 1999 is clearly more undemocratic than Malaysia on achieving independence 42 years ago in 1957.

While DAP welcomes the proposed formation of the  Human Rights Commission to protect and promote human rights, we are concerned that the Commission would be used as an "alibi" institution to legitimise violations of human rights, in the same way that the holding of periodic elections in the country is  being used to legitimise unfairly elected governments.

If Barisan Nasional leaders really respect the fundamental right of Malaysians to vote as they choose, and even to "boot out" the Barisan Nasional government, Barisan leaders should give a commitment not to use politics of intimidation and blackmail, like the  spectre of May 13 violence, for the coming general election.  Are the Barisan Nasional leaders capable of making such a commitment?


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