The co-operation of the four opposition parties are not about to fall apart as our common objectives to promote   justice, freedom, democracy and good governance hold - the question is whether we can take the co-operation a  step further whether to form an electoral understanding or a United Opposition Front


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Friday):  Recent mass media reports have given the impression that the four opposition parties, KeADILan, PAS, PRM and DAP have broken up.  This is totally mistaken.

The co-operation of the four opposition parties are not about to fall apart as our common objectives to promote justice, freedom, democracy and good governance hold - the question is whether we can take the co-operation  a step further whether to form an electoral understanding or an United Opposition Front.

In the circumstances, the question of any party pulling out of an electoral understanding or an United Opposition Front does not arise, as agreement has not yet been  reached on either one of these forms of closer Opposition co-operation.

As it is, the Opposition parties have achieved  unprecedented co-operation for the first time in Malaysian political history, with DAP, PAS, KeADILan and Parti Rakyat leaders appearing on the same platform at ceramahs and forums, as well as meeting to discuss forms of further co-operation in the coming general election.

However, as the Opposition parties have not decided on whether the opposition co-operation could be taken one step further to provide for a "one-to-one" challenge to the Barisan Nasional in the next general election, whether in the form of an electoral understanding or an United Opposition Front, the Opposition parties have not discussed the question of who would be the Prime Minister if the Barisan Nasional is toppled in the next general election.

Utusan Malaysiaís front-page report today quoting DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin as saying that the opposition parties are considering the question of the rotation of the post of Prime Minister if the Opposition wins the the next general election is incorrect.  The Utusan Malaysia reporter was not present at Dr. Chenís press conference yesterday.

The Chinese newspapers reported correctly the context of Dr. Chenís reference as a hypothethical possibility, rather than as an agenda before the Opposition parties.

Furthermore, the  question of who from the Opposition will become Prime Minister is academic for two reasons: firstly, the Opposition parties have not yet decided on the formation of an United Opposition Front; and secondly, DAP is not convinced that the toppling of the Barisan Nasional government in the next election is a realistic objective.

Although there is disagreement about what should be the general election objective, whether to deny the Barisan Nasionalís two-thirds parliamentary majority or to topple the Barisan Nasional government, the DAP remains  committed in our resolve to promote an Opposition  "one-to-one" contest against the Barisan Nasional, with a common election manifesto on the issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

This is why the DAP had mentioned three possible arrangements for opposition co-operation to bring about the  "one-to-one" contest against the Barisan Nasional:
 

The next election is not about Islamic state, as even PAS is not claiming that Islamic state is the issue in the next election although Islamic State is PASí founding ideological objective.  No PAS leader has ever claimed that PAS could win on its own two-thirds parliamentary majority of at least 130 Parliamentary seats to amend the Malaysian Constitution to establish an Islamic State.  In fact, it is unlikely that PAS would  contest much more than one-third of the Parliamentary seats, let alone winning one-third of the seats.

However, the concerns of non-Muslim voters about an Islamic state must be addressed.  The DAP and non-Muslims do not support the establishment of an Islamic state not because they are anti-Islam but because in an Islamic state, non-Muslims will not be entitled to exercise their full citizenship rights.

If the Opposition co-operation, whether in the form of an United Opposition Front, an electoral understanding, or a 3-Plus-1, i.e. United Front involving PAS, KeADILan and PRM with an electoral understanding with DAP, is to maximise voter support and bring about far-reaching political changes in the next election, then these concerns of non-Muslim voters about an Islamic state must  be allayed.

While the Opposition parties are trying to decide on what further forms of closer co-operation could be achieved, misinformed statements that the DAP wants to lead the Opposition coalition are biased and unhelpful to the cause of ensuring that the next general election can mark a major political breakthrough for the restoration of democracy and institutionn of a vibrant parliamentary institution and civil society.

(4/6/99)


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