Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases sum up what is terribly wrong with the system of justice, democracy and human rights and why Barisan’s political hegemony must be broken by denying it two-thirds parliamentary majority

- Kuching DAP’s  "Guan Eng’s Return with Honour" Dinner
Lim Kit Siang 

(Kuching, Tuesday): A year ago, two events which took place within ten days of each other, set in motion a chain of events which has  changed the political landscape in Malaysia, both short-term and even more important, long-term.

On August 25, 1998,  DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, was sent to Kajang Prison to start his two concurrent 18-month jail sentences when the Federal Court rejected  his appeals against conviction and sentence under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act.

Guan Eng was jailed not because he had committed any heinous crime of theft, armed robbery, arson, rape, murder, corruption or criminal breach of trust but because he was courageously discharging his duties and responsibilities as an elected representative of the people in the defence of the honour, dignity, women rights and human rights of an underaged 15-year-old girl victim of statutory rape.

Guan Eng’s incarceration and disqualification as an elected Member of Parliament and disenfranchisement of his civic rights as a Malaysian citizen created nation-wide dismay, shock, grief and outrage at a system of justice that was  so manifestly unjust.

The far-reaching political, economic, social and nation-building consequences of Guan Eng’s second loss of personal liberty include:

This is why the past 11 days have witnessed an unprecedented political phenomenon - where Malaysians of all races, whether Chinese, Malays, Indians, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians,  Hindus, Sikhs, men and women, young and old, poured out to give Guan Eng a tumultous reception wherever he went since he walked out of Kajang Prison on August 25 - a welcome given to a national hero and not a lowly common criminal.
This marks a double coming-of-age, of the Malaysian nation-building process and the DAP’s political mission.
No single event in  the political arena in the 42-year nation-building process  as the patent injustice of Guan Eng’s incarceration and persecution has brought Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, closer together to realise their commonality  as Malaysian citizens and human beings, who must unite against injustices and oppression to build a better society for themselves,  their children, and their children’s children.
Similarly, no single event in the 33-year history of DAP has symbolised the party’s commitment to build a Malaysia for all Malaysians, where every Malaysian citizen, regardless of race, religion, gender or sex  is entitled to the fundamental rights of justice, freedom, development, progress and  prosperity.
In the past three decades,  UMNO  propaganda and controlled-mass media had adopted the colonial tactics of "divide and rule" and poisoned the minds of the Malay society by depicting the DAP as a Chinese chauvinist, anti-Malay, anti-Islam political party.
Guan Eng’s going to jail in the defence of  the honour, dignity, women rights and human rights of a 15-year-old Malay girl victim of statutory rape, when no single UMNO, let alone MCA, Gerakan, MIC political leader was prepared to take up her cause for justice, is a powerful debunking of the three-decade UMNO propaganda and lie that DAP is anti-Malay or anti-Islam.
In fact, the spontaneous and tumultous reception given to Guan Eng wherever he went throughout the country by Malaysians, including the Malays, is testimony that ordinary Malaysians are more Malaysian-minded and justice-conscious than the UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders!
The second event was the travesty of justice perpetrated on the former Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister and heir-designate as the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was summarily sacked from government on Sept. 2, expelled from UMNO on Sept. 3, detained on Sept. 20 and assaulted to within an inch of his life by the then Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Rahim Noor, giving Anwar the notorious "black eye" which became a badge of national and international  shame for Malaysia, and the prosecution  and incarceration of Anwar Ibrahim which scandalised the nation and the world.
Anwar’s  trial and tribulations was another traumatic political event which created  a sea-change in political attitudes among the people, particularly the Malay society, making more Malaysians realise for the first time the rot in our democratic society and national institutions, which had been camouflaged by strong continuous growth of the economy in the past decade, such as:

The Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases sum up what is terribly wrong with Malaysia - the rank injustices; rampant corruption and abuses of power;  suppression of  human rights; lack of democracy and misgovernance of the Barisan Nasional government.

These national ills stem from two basic causes:

It is unthinkable that the Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim cases of injustices would have occurred during the tenure of the first three Prime Ministers of Malaysia, namely Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn, who have a greater understanding and respect of  principles of the rule of law and the  independence of the judiciary as well as the doctrine of the separation of powers among the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary.

The challenge facing Malaysians is whether they could break the political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

Although It is not going to be easy, a firm start must be made in the coming general election to break the mould of political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional as a result of uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority of the ruling coalition in nine general elections in 42 years.

The denial and ending of  the Barisan Nasional two-thirds parliamentary majority will not only break the mould of political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional, unleashing of suppressed creative forces and energies of democracy, it will serve as a warning that unless the Barisan Nasional is more sensitive to the aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, the Barisan Nasional would be toppled in the subsequent election, whether 2,004 or 2,005.

While there are Malaysians and political parties which believe that the Barisan Nasional could be toppled in the next election, it would be wise not  to be carried away by such exuberance when the denial of the Barisan Nasional's uninterrupted two-thirds majority would itself already be a tall order.

DAP believes that the denial and ending of the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority in the next election is possible and achievable with the combined Opposition winning some 70 to 75 seats, with the DAP aiming to win 25 to 30 Parliamentary seats.

If the Barisan Nasional can still win another landslide victory after Lim Guan Eng and Anwar Ibrahim injustices as well as the long list of abuses of power and violation of human rights and democratic freedoms, Malaysians must expect another dark age and a repetition of Operation Lalang on an even greater scale than in 1988, where over 106 opposition leaders, trade unionists, social activists were detained under the Internal Security Act for threatening not national security but the political security of the Barisan Nasional leadership.


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