Malaysia’s Opposition not after an ‘Arab spring’ – DAP leader

ABC Radio Australia
10 May 2013, 21:47 AEST

Malaysia’s opposition is planning several political gatherings across the country this month, over last Sunday’s disputed national elections.

The protests could be the most provocative challenge to the Malaysian government in years.

Mr Lim Kit Siang, a veteran senior member of the DAP, a component of the three-party Pakatan Rakyat, told Asia Pacific that the Opposition is studying allegations of fraud in between twenty to thirty constituencies.

Mr Lim, who caused a political upset last Sunday by winning a seat in Johor state against the incumbent chief minister, says media reports of a ‘wave of protests’ are erroneous.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Lim Kit Siang, member of parliament for Gelang Patah, and senior member of the opposition Democratic Action Party

LIM: Well, we’re having ceramahs (meetings) in order to explain to the people the electoral fraud, as well as the latest political situation in the country. I had one last night for instance, a DAP ceramah. Of course people are angry and frustrated that the election process has been so unfair, not having a level playing field, that has deprived the country of a government that they wanted – which is a replacement of the present government and prime minister.

LAM: Are you concerned that such ongoing protests might lead to national instability?

LIM: Well, we definitely do not want an ‘Arab spring’ in the sense of having national incidents and all that. We want to continue to have peaceful and orderly process, where there can be public meetings to explain to the people the latest political developments in the country, including the electoral fraud.

LAM: Isn’t it time for all Malaysians now, to get together, after you’ve had these elections – to forward the progress of the country?

LIM: Yes, I agree there must be politics of national reconciliation, but an example must be set by the Prime Minister himself. He must adopt the language of reconciliation and not the language of national division, like his reference to the election result as a “Chinese tsunami”, the talk about the Chinese not being grateful – that is not the language of national reconciliation. Similarly, as far as the electoral fraud is concerned, I think that must be addressed – the problems arising from that, the distrust, the anger, arising from the people’s disappointment, cannot be ignored. But I do agree, this all must be done in a peaceful, orderly and democratic fashion, without allowing any irresponsible people to stir up trouble.

LAM: Radio Australia has spoken to several BN – UMNO voices, who all say, “Present the evidence of fraud, take it to the courts.” Why hasn’t the Opposition done this?

LIM: The results have not been gazetted even. The question, the process of challenging the election results can only begin when the results are gazetted. Our leaders and advisors are looking at a list of some twenty to thirty constituencies. And if these twenty to thirty constituencies are found to be results which are not credible, then of course it will mean that there’s a possibility that the prime minister will not have his majority, that he’s now working on.

LAM: As I understand it, any challenge in the court has to be done on a constituency by constituency, seat by seat basis. Is the Opposition prepared to do that?

LIM: Yes, our team of advisors are looking into it. They’re looking at studying the constituencies involved, some 20 to 30 of them and we are awaiting a report.

LAM: What do you say to Malaysians who feel they just want to get on with life, having had two years of (unofficial) election campaigning, that they just want to concentrate and focus on bread and butter issues now, to make money, to be prosperous, to get on with their lives?

LIM: Well, I think Malaysians should be allowed to do that. We shan’t do anything to frustrate Malaysians from getting on with their lives. But nonetheless, the question of legitimacy, the credibillity of the election results, that must also take its correct course.

LAM: And Lim Kit Siang, what do you make of reports in sections of the Malaysian media, that say that the Barisan Nasional is actively wooing the DAP – your party – to replace the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) in BN?

LIM: The DAP has no intention of replacing the MCA in BN, because the DAP has never been a party just for the sake of the Chinese – it’s a party for all Malaysians. And for the last forty-seven years, party leaders and activists have gone to jail, have been dragged through court, have been detained. Not just for the interest of the Chinese, but for all Malaysians – whether Malays, Indians, Chinese, Kadazans or Ibans. And we’re not going to allow all this to go to, not to replace the MCA.

LAM: And Mr Lim, congratulations on winning Gelang Patah from the Johor menteri besar (chief minister).

LIM: Thank you very much.

LAM: That was by a huge margin of 14-thousand votes, and Johor is an UMNO-BN stronghold as well. How do you read your victory in Gelang Patah? How do you account for it?

LIM: Well, I think it’s very significant and the reason why the UMNO leaders are so distraught over it, because they see the last UMNO state and in fact, the fortress of UMNO, the state where UMNO was founded, and in that connection, also where MCA was started, that it was beginning to come apart, it is no more a fixed deposit state. It’s now vulnerable to challenge from the Pakatan Rakyat – it means if Johor or UMNO goes, then of course, it also goes for the whole country as well.

LAM: But how do you account for your message resonating with the voters in Gelang Patah?

LIM: It was a message of hope – of a Malaysian dream, where all Malaysians regardless of race can come together to build a great nation, rather than to continue with 56 years of the politics of the past, based on race politics and corruption and abuse of power. That we can get the Chinese, Indians and even Malays to come together.

LAM: And finally, Mr Lim, the Pakatan Rakyat made more gains, significant gains in GE13. Will the opposition now seek to have the electoral boundaries redrawn, given that BN (is occupying 133 seats) really just got about 47 percent of the popular vote?

LIM: Well, under the Constitution, the electoral boundaries have to be redrawn, it’s actually between eight to ten years and the time is up. But we want it to be redrawn under democratic conditions, where there is really one man, one vote, one value. Not as of now, where for instance, you have one constituency, which is Putrajaya, having some 16-thousand votes, whereas in Kapar, we have 140-thousand, which is a one to nine ratio. And that is definitely not one man, one vote, and one value. And I think we want that to be embedded as one of the cardinal principles of the new constituency delineation process.

  1. #1 by Jeffrey on Saturday, 11 May 2013 - 9:20 am

    ///Not as of now, where for instance, you have one constituency, which is Putrajaya, having some 16-thousand votes, whereas in Kapar, we have 140-thousand, which is a one to nine ratio. And that is definitely not one man, one vote, and one value///.

    This is true. You’d recall that the main justification for small constituencies is that they are rural. As I have said in earlier post “the argument for eg is that Terengganu is big, remote and does not have many people. But it is time-consuming for one representative to serve the whole area. So you have to break it up. You need more elected representatives to take care of the entire Terengganu whereas an urban area like Penang or Selangor, the argument is that the physical infrastructure is more integrated, efficient, communication and transportation are easier and therefore easier to be looked after by fewer representatives.” How does that justification apply to Putrajaya?

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