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Najib, Taib Mahmud and other BN leaders should not be greedy and power-crazy  to demand a “clean sweep” on May 20 but to take note of Mahathir’s wisdom after 22 years of Prime Minister that “Opposition  is the essence of democracy”



DAP Sarawak general election ceramah in Kidurong

by Lim Kit Siang  

Kuching, Wednesday) : Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has one birthday wish for his 70th birthday on Sunday – to have a clean sweep in Sarawak’s ninth state elections on Saturday.


This has been immediately taken up by other Barisan Nasional leaders, both federal and state.  Information Minister,  Datuk Zainuddin Maidin  called on the people of Sarawak to “teach” what he called “peninsula-based” opposition parties contesting in Sarawak state elections “a bitter lesson” by “burying” them permanently on polling day on Saturday.


Zainuddin is a “real disgrace” as a Malaysian Information Minister in preaching a narrow, sectarian  and unMalaysian politics, forgetting that he is himself from peninsular Malaysia, that DAP Sarawak is not a peninsula-based political movement but a 100% Sarawakian entity with full autonomy powers  to make decisions on election manifesto, programme and  candidature.  What should be  “buried” on Saturday is the petty, parochial,  immature and fourth-world  political mentality of Zainuddin, who should be sacked as Information Minister  – but that  is another question.


Yesterday Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, came specially  to Kidurong  to defeat the DAP incumbent, Chiew Chin Sing.  He took up the  cause to give Taib Mahmud his birthday wish and  said that Barisan Nasional cannot afford to lose even one seat to the Opposition in the ninth Sarawak state general elections.


Najib cannot be more wrong. Barisan Nasional can afford to lose not one but several seats to the Opposition on Saturday, which  will be good for the people of Sarawak but Malaysia.


Najib, Taib Mahmud and other BN leaders should not be greedy and  power-crazy  to demand a “clean sweep” on May 20 but to take note of the  wisdom of  his former boss, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after 22 years as  Prime Minister of Malaysia  that “Opposition  is the essence of democracy” – which means not only  Chiew Chin Sing should be retained as Sarawak State Assemblyman for Kidurong, but that several DAP candidates in the Sarawak state general election, particularly in Kuching, Sibu and Meradong should be sent into the Sarawak State Assembly on Saturday.

Mahathir’s  views on “Opposition is the essence of democracy”  were in  the Q & A of  a recent talk, available on DVD, as follows:


What is your view on the suggestion that we assimilate opposition members into the government to provide for check and balance and additional insight?

Already we have so little opposition. If we absorb them, we will not have any opposition at all. I’m against one-party government, although I never saw the opposition very useful during my time, of course, but I think they should be there. There should be an opposition because they are there to remind us that we are making mistakes or that we need to study things much more deeply. But if there is no opposition, you’ll think that whatever you do is right and it may be very, very wrong.


That is why, after 1969, Tun (Abdul) Razak was bringing in all the political parties into Barisan Nasional, I was quite happy that DAP didn’t join.

I believed that we need to have an opposition. That is the essence of democracy. Not too powerful, because if they are too powerful, they become a nuisance, but sufficient to give the other viewpoint. Then you have to discuss, you have to even modify your own thinking. I wouldn’t like to see the opposition join the government, whether in politics or whatever. They should stay where they are.

I congratulate them. But this I say after I’ve stepped down from being prime minister. Of course, as prime minister, I would not say anything nice about them, but I think they serve a useful purpose, so let’s put up with the opposition.


When Mahathir said: “I congratulate them”, he could only mean the Democratic Action Party, which had kept Mahathir on his toes in the 22 years he was Prime Minister, although DAP leaders had to pay a heavy price of our convictions, with several DAP leaders detained by him under the Internal Security Act during the 1987 Operation Lalang, like Karpal Singh, Lim Guan Eng, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, with me made  “guest of His Majesty’s Government” for the second time under the ISA at the Kamunting Detention Centre.


It is a pity Mahathir did not realize the important role of the DAP and the Opposition when he was Prime Minister after 22 years, but his wisdom gained after 22 years as Prime Minister that “Opposition is the essence of democracy” should be fully heeded by the Sarawakian voters on Saturday to vote into the Sarawak State Assembly  a band of dedicated, committed and principled  DAP leaders to articulate loud and clear the voice of the people of Sarawak.


This may not be the birthday gift Taib Mahmud wants on Sunday but it will undoubtedly be the greatest  gift to democracy to Sarawak and Malaysia in the past 43 years since the formation of Malaysia, holding out the promise of putting democracy back on track in Sarawak and Malaysia after three decades of the derailment of democracy with Taib Mahmud as Chief Minister.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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