Three reasons why DAP is more democratic than UMNO

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Although Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said in Kota Bharu yesterday that "democracy still exists" in UMNO, it is clear that he was making a very qualified statement.

He said that voters were trying to send a message to the UMNO leadership, hoping changes will be made.

He added: "It is too bad if UMNO does not realise this and chooses to ignore their views."

Razaleigh is the only UMNO leader to publicly support former Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba in the latterís call for contest for the two top UMNO posts.

As a result, both of them are now being painted as two oldsters out of sync with UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the UMNO Supreme Council thinking, pooh-poohed by ambitious young UMNO leaders like the Acting UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Hishammuddin  Tun Hussein and Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rustam.

This is best  illustrated in the Utusan Malaysia front-page cartoon, "Senyum Kambing", with the dialogue:  "Tengku Razaleigh nampaknya sehaluan dengan Tun Ghafar." "Sekarang aku faham".

UMNO leaders and members must come forward to save democracy in UMNO from being strangled by Mahathir.

I had challenged the top UMNO leadership to a debate as to which party, DAP or UMNO, is more democratic, but none of them had dared to respond. Instead, they prefer to get some political fringe elements, who nonetheless made some sort of history by losing deposit in all their 20 candidates in the last general election,  to try to distract public attention from the issue of UMNO democracy undergoing its most serious crisis by attacking the DAP for being undemocratic.

DAP is prepared to have a debate with UMNO any time on which party is more democratic for the DAP will be able to win hands down.

In the first place, all DAP leaders, including myself, had to submit ourselves periodically to the verdict of party delegates.  In the DAPís 33-year history, DAP delegates were never denied the opportunity even once from exercising their right to elect the leaders of their choice.

Barisan Nasional media and their parrots, both inside and outside, which never ceased in their allegation that I am authoritarian and a dictator,  do not want the people to know that I stood and was elected in every DAP party election in the past three decades.

This is not the case with Mahathir. UMNO delegates had been banned in the last four years since 1996 from voting against him as UMNO President, when the UMNO Supreme Council first made the undemocratic decision that the two top UMNO posts should not be contested.  Now, the UMNO Supreme Council wants to ban UMNO delegates the power to elect the two top UMNO leaders of their choice for the next three years - making a total of seven years when Mahathir cannot be challenged as UMNO President, a sort of UMNO President for life since 1996.

Furthermore, there was the undemocratic rule adopted by the UMNO extraordinary general assembly when abolishing bonus votes for top posts requiring those aspiring to contest the UMNO presidency to get at least 30% of the nominations from the partyís 165 divisions, or some 50 divisions.  For the deputy presidency, a candidate needed nominations of at least 20 per cent of all divisions or 33 divisions.

These provisions are patently undemocratic and outrageous - but those who have made it their sole political goal in life  to shout about the lack of democracy in DAP  have absolutely nothing to say about such institutionalised dictatorship in UMNO!

There is another third great difference in democracy between the DAP and UMNO. DAP State leaders are also directly elected by the party delegates in the state while in UMNO, the State Chairmen are all appointed by the UMNO President.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman