If Kepong, the parliamentary constituency with the highest percentage of Chinese voters, falls to Barisan Nasional in the 2004 general election, it will have far-reaching national and long-term consequences as it will be regarded as a ringing endorsement by the Malaysian Chinese for UMNO and Barisan Nasional’s “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state and abandonment of the 46-year Merdeka “social contract”
Media Conference Statement
- when visiting the Kepong parliamentary constituency
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kepong, Monday): I have come to visit the Kepong parliamentary constituency as I am worried that it may fall to Barisan Nasional in the March 21 general election, with far-reaching and long-term consequences for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation – transcending the immediate local and constituency concerns of 60,000 voters of Kepong.
Kepong is the country’s parliamentary constituency with the highest percentage of Chinese voters, as illustrated by the following:
If Kepong, the parliamentary constituency with the highest percentage of Chinese voters, falls to Barisan Nasional in the 2004 general election, it will have far-reaching national and long-term consequences as it will be regarded as a ringing endorsement by the Malaysian Chinese for UMNO and Barisan Nasional’s “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic state and the abandonment of the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” and furnishing the justification for the jettisoning of a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion by embarking the country on the road of an Islamic State any time it is politically necessary to do so.
I have come specially with the one important message to the voters of Kepong, that on 21st March, they will be deciding not only on who will be their Member of Parliament for the next five years, but also determining the citizenship rights of future generations in the decades to come by also deciding whether to reaffirm or abandon the 46-year Merdeka “social contract” of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State - whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO, whether through the UMNO and Barisan Nasional “929 Declaration” or the PAS Islamic State Document.
I had recently admitted to the failure of the DAP's “No to 929 campaign” to raise consciousness among Malaysians that the next general election is the greatest nation-building test as to whether we uphold or jettison the 1957 Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State, whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO - as we have not been able to convey this message to the majority of Malaysians with the general election fixed for March 21. The majority of Malaysians, whether in Kepong or elsewhere in the country, are not aware that such a fundamental issue is at stake in the 2004 general election.
This does not mean that the “No to 929 campaign” was wrong, misconceived or irrelevant, but only that Malaysians who realized the critical importance of the 2004 general election in two weeks’ time must double, treble and even quadruple their efforts to inform as many Malaysians as possible that no one should be a bystander in the great verdict for the reaffirmation or abandonment of the Merdeka “social contract” which founded and conceived Malaysia as a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
The DAP’s call for the reaffirmation of the Merdeka “social contract” and not to allow the 2004 general election to become a mandate to be used in future for its abandonment is meant for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion; and not just to Chinese, Indians and non-Muslims.
However, if the voting outcome in the country’s constituency with the largest Chinese electorate could be interpreted as jettisoning the Merdeka “social contract” and endorsement of the “929 Declaration” that Malaysia is an Islamic State, it becomes very difficult and even impossible for the majority of Malays who do not want an Islamic State to declare their stand.
The upholding and protection of the 46-year “social contract” is not anti-Malay or anti-Islam but 100 per cent pro-Malaysia and pro-all religions and races in the country. This is why the founding fathers of the major communities reached such a solemn concord as the founding basis for the Malaysian nation on the attainment of independence in 1957, and why Bapa Malaysia and the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, the second Prime Minister, Tun Razak and the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn publicly championed and defended the Merdeka compact of Malaysia as a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion.
It is a fallacy that just because the majority of the population of a country are Muslims, the country must become an Islamic State, as the majority of the countries in the world with Muslim majorities are not Islamic States. The best example is our neighbour, Indonesia, whose population is 88% Muslims or over 200 million Muslims out of 230 million population. Indonesia, however, is not an Islamic State, but a secular republic and a motion to turn Indonesia into an Islamic State based on shariah law was defeated in the Indonesian Parliament two years ago by the overwhelming majority of Muslim MPs!
There is considerable talk that DAP will lose Kepong with the intense attack by the Gerakan candidate, with his cornucopia of promises about constituency allocations and other election “goodies” aimed at unseating Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, the DAP MP for Kepong for five terms. In the 1999 general election, Seng Giaw had won with a small majority of 1,766 votes, as compared to a majority of 5,022 in 1995, 22,352 in 1990 and 16,513 in 1986. In 1982, Seng Giaw’s first majority was 1,205.
Seng Giaw is an industrious, dedicated and conscientious Member of Parliament, articulating the burning issues and problems of the people and country inside and outside the legislatures and a diligent constituency worker. However, Seng Giaw and DAP MPs cannot compete with the Barisan Nasional in terms of constituency allocations and other election “goodies”, which violate all notions of a free, fair and clean general election.
These election ploys, based on money politics and the abuse of taxpayers’ monies in not being equitably disbursed to all voters and constituencies regardless of whom they elect as MP, is the root cause of the corruption of political and moral values and the very reason why there can be no clean, incorruptible and good government without a fundamental change in the system of governance.
What Seng Giaw and DAP MPs could do and which they had diligently and conscientiously done in the past three decades, even at the supreme price of loss of personal liberty –Seng Giaw was with me together with Karpal Singh and Lim Guan Eng in the Kamunting Detention Centre when we were arbitrarily, unjustly and undemocratically detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) during the Operation Lallang mass arrests in 1987 – is to continue to defend without fear or favour the fundamental citizenship rights of all Malaysians to dignity, freedom, justice and equality. This is something which no one in the Barisan Nasional could ever do, as it is completely unheard of that any Barisan Nasional MP had ever been detained under the ISA for championing the cause of the people.
The voters of Kepong have a historic responsibility on March 21 – to use their votes to give the DAP candidate for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, a thumping majority to send a clear, thunderous anhd unmistakable message on behalf of themselves as well as all Malaysians and future generations that Malaysia must forever remain a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State as conceived by the nation’s forefathers from the various communities in the Merdeka “social contract” and entrenched in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the 1963 Malaysia Agreement and the 1971 Rukunegara.
It is therefore my hope and prayer that come March 21, the voters of Kepong will return Seng Giaw as MP for the constituency for the sixth time with a thunderous majority to send a clear and unmistakable message to all and sundry in Malaysia and the world at large that they stand solidly behind the DAP to reaffirm the Merdeka “social contract” that Malaysia is a secular democracy with Islam as the official religion and to give a unequivocal “No” to any attempt to embark Malaysia on the road of an Islamic State.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman