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  Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang at the DAP Ipoh Timur Election Ops Centre, Ipoh on Wednesday, 5th March 2008 at 2 pm:

More seats won by MCA will only result in worsening UMNO political hegemony

When MCA should be most influential and powerful after the 1999 general election when Chinese voters saved UMNO and Barisan Nasional to ensure their getting two-thirds parliamentary majority, MCA was weakest in allowing the rise of UMNO political hegemony.

New Straits Times has turned into a MCA and Barisan Nasional (BN) propaganda broadsheet today with the front-page headline: “Chinese voters have a simple choice: a bigger say in parliament and government, or a louder voice in parliament without real influence…”

Quoting the MCA strategist, Datuk Wong Mook Leong,said “the reality was that whenever the DAP did better than MCA, it was a major setback for the community”.

Wong said: “In 1986, DAP won 24 seats while MCA got 18. In 1990, DAP continued to lead MCA by two parliamentary seats.

“DAP claims that in those two terms, it was a major step for democracy. But the truth is, it was two terms of major setbacks for the Chinese community.”

This is a very dishonest distortion of Malaysian political history.

Firstly, this analysis flies in the face of the truth that it was after these two major successive wins by the DAP in the 1986 and 1990 general elections that UMNO finally relented and abandoned its three-decade-long nation-building policy of assimilation and finally accepted the DAP contention that for a plural nation like Malaysia, with diverse races, languages, cultures and religions, only a policy of integration can succeed to unite the people and hold the nation together.

It was after the DAP’s consecutive electoral gains in 1986 and 1990 general elections that Vision 2020 with its objective of creating a Bangsa Malaysia was proclaimed by the then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in February 1991, marking the abandonment of the assimilation policy of “one language, one culture” and acceptance of the integration policy of “many languages and many cultures” in Malaysia.

This was subsequently admitted publicly by Mahathir in September 1995, when he said that citizens should be proud of being Malaysians and work together instead of being preoccupied with ethnic origin.

He said to realise the goal of Bangsa Malaysia, the people should start accepting each other as they are, regardless of race and religion.

Mahathir said at the time that certain quarters may condemn him for wanting to achieve Bangsa Malaysia and not struggling for the Malay cause as he did during his early years in politics.

He said when he was fighting for the Malay cause per se, he was young and his thoughts were that of an inexperienced politician.

He stressed that in future; there would be no nation in the world which would have a single ethnic group as its citizen.
In August 1996, he told Utusan Malaysia in an interview:

“Zaman berubah. Kalau dahulu tumpuan ialah kita kepada asimilasi. Di mana-mana negara juga tidak ada lagi usaha untuk “asimilasi”, bahkan di Amerika Syarikat mereka sering bercakap berkenaan dengan “roots” asal-usul mereka. Jadi kalau kita sudah terima bahawa itu tidak mungkin, kita perlu cari jalan lain untuk merapatkan perhubungan antara kaum ini. Seperti kata De Bono, Lateral Thinking, kalau kita tidak boleh merentas satu jalan maka kita pergi ke jalan lain untuk sampai ke matlamat yang sama.”

Again in his interview with TIME magazine in December 1996, he said in a Q & A:
TIME: You recently said that efforts to assimilate races have not been successful and it was time to try something else.

Mahathir: The idea before was that people should become 100% Malay in order to be Malaysian. We now accept that this is a multi-racial country. We should build bridges instead of trying to remove completely the barriers separating us. We do not intend to convert all the Chinese to Islam, and we tell our people, the Muslims, “you will not try to force people to convert”.

I had at the time commend Mahathir for the evolution of his thinking on nation-building for Malaysia, for this was one of the cornerstones of the DAP political struggle when we were formed in 1966, to establish that Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation and that the only viable and successful nation-building policy must be one based on integration and not on assimilation.

Many DAP leaders had to pay a heavy price in terms of loss of personal freedoms or being persecuted in courts for courageously defending and upholding the rights of all races, languages, cultures and religions in a multi-racial Malaysia.

There is no doubt that if there had been no DAP in the last three decades, the attempt to impose a “One Language, One Culture” Policy in Malaysia would have been taken to extreme lengths with disastrous results both for national unity as well as development.

As a result of this paradigm shift in nation-building caused by the DAP’s consistent political stand, there was what I called “minor liberalization” in government nation-building policies and programmes on language, education and culture, which fell far short of the “full liberalization” that envisaged as the successful path for Malaysian nation-building.

In 1995, 1999 and 2004, DAP suffered electoral setbacks with the MCA making great electoral gains.
With the DAP reduced only to nine parliamentary seats in 1995, 10 seats in 1999 and 12 seats in 2004 general elections. Did the MCA build on the gains achieved by the DAP in beating off UMNO’s assimilation nation-building policy, to ensure that there is full liberalization in nation-building based on integration?

The 1999 general election deserves special mention. In 1999 general election, the Anwar Ibrahim “black eye” effect created political ferment among the Malay voters, with the Malays prepared for change, resulting in UMNO suffering its worst electoral defeat in its party history.

UMNO and Barisan Nasional would have lost their two-thirds parliamentary majority if the Chinese voters had not come to their rescue, voting to shore up Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds majority.

Instead of DAP winning some 30 parliamentary seats, which would have resulted in the BN losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority, and ushering in a new era for democratic change and greater liberalization in economic and nation-building policies, DAP suffered a major setback and won only 10 parliamentary seats.

MCA won 36 parliamentary seats. Did MCA’s huge slate of parliamentary seats and the role of the Malaysian Chinese voters in saving the UMNO and BN from losing its two-third parliamentary majority in the 1999 general election resulted in a more just and equal nation-building policy and greater MCA representation in government, as increase in the number of MCA Cabinet Ministers and their appointment to key Ministries, like Finance and Industry which was previously occupied by MCA Ministers in the early years of Merdeka?

None at all. When MCA should be most influential and powerful after the 1999 general election when Chinese voters saved UMNO and Barisan Nasional to ensure their getting two-thirds parliamentary majority, MCA was weakest in allowing the rise of UMNO political hegemony from 1999 – 2008.

Examples are galore of the rise of UMNO political hegemony, which marginalizes not only the other BN component parties but all communities, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazan-Dusun-Murut and Ibans.

There is a long list to illustrate the rise of UMNO political hegemony in the past nine years, but I need only mention the following few:

• The “929 Declaration Malaysia as an Islamic state on Sept. 29, 2001;

• The UMNO Youth threat to burn down the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall over the Suqiu controversy;

• The extension of the New Economic Policy from a 20-year span to 50 years and beyond;

• UMNO Youth Hishammuddin Hussein’s wielding of the Malay keris at the UMNO Youth assembly;

• The rejection of the Bangsa Malaysia objective of Vision 2020 by powerful circles and forces in UMNO;

• The humiliation suffered by non-UMNO Ministers who had submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister in 2006 about freedom of religion over the Moorthy snatch-body case, coupled with rapid increases of religious polarization over body-snatching, banning of Christian Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia using “Allah”, restriction of freedom of religion of non-Muslim communities like the Kudat Mazu controversy;

• Blatant abuse of NEP to spawn even worse corruption, cronyism and nepotism (CCN) in the Abdullah administration as compared to the Mahathir premiership, with the bumiputras being used to serve the interests of Umnoputras; and

• The Hindraf phenomenon of nation-wide Indian protest at their long-standing marginalization.

Wong Mook Leong is wrong. The more seats the MCA wins, the greater the trend towards Umno political hegemony. This is why in the 12th general election, a vote for the BN is a vote for UMNO political hegemony, and why all Malaysians regardless of race or religion should unite to smash UMNO political hegemony, which is completely different from UMNO dominance in BN and can be a Frankestein in the Malaysian political landscape.

* Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Candidate & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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