The loss of Kota Melaka parliamentary seat, a 35-year DAP fortress, most shocking and warrants the fullest, thorough-going and most professional investigation of its causes
- 2004 General Election Post-Election Ceramah
by Lim Kit Siang
(Seremban, Thursday): It is great tonight to be in Seremban, as the 2004 general election marked the return of the Rocket to its rightful political role in Negri Sembilan, the founding place of the DAP and the cause for a Malaysian Malaysia, after a long lapse of eight years.
Since 1996, the Negri Sembilan State Assembly had been an echo chamber of the Barisan Nasional, completely shutting out the voice of the people.
There is now a new political start in Negri Sembilan with the election of two DAP State Assemblymen, Anthony Loke Siew Fook (Lobak) and Lim Fui Ming (Bahau), with the DAP Parliamentary candidate for Rasah Chan Su Sann and two State Assembly candidates, P. Gunasekaran who lost Bukit Kepayang by 430 votes and Yap Yew Weng who lost Temiang by 919 votes, putting up a very creditable showing. Chan Su Sann would probably be the MP for Rasah and Gunasekaran and Yap Yew Weng two additional DAP State Assemblymen in Negri Sembilan had the 2004 general election been more fair and democratic, such as having another three to five days of campaigning instead of being the shortest 7 Ĺ day-campaign period in the nationís history.
The DAP did not win big nationally in the 2004 general election as we only won two additional parliamentary seats from 10 in 1999 to 12. However, in the context of a general devastation of the other Opposition parties, with PAS losing Terengganu state power, clinging desperately to Kelantan state government with a wafer-thin three-seat majority and decimated in Parliament from 27 MPs to seven MPs while Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia managing to win only one seat, DAPís ability not only to hold our ground but to add two parliamentary seats is most significant.
However, we have had our big setbacks as well, one of which was the loss of the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat, a 35-year DAP fortress and the only parliamentary seat to be held unbroken by the DAP since 1969. The loss of Kota Melaka parliamentary seat is most shocking and warrants the fullest, thorough-going and most professional investigation of its causes.
Just before polling day, I had asked DAP Secretary-General Sdr. Kerk Kim Hock who was standing for re-election what was the political situation in Kota Melaka, and he told me that there should be no problem in retaining the 35-year DAP fortress.
If I had known that the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat was in danger, I would have definitely made a trip to Malacca to campaign for Kerk, however difficult it would have been in the Ipoh Timor and Kinta Valley battle to make Perak the second front-line state with the target of winning three parliamentary and nine state assembly seats in the heartland of Perak. This was because the importance of defending and retaining the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat must take priority over all other considerations.
In fact, if the party leadership had known that the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat was in danger, I would not have agreed to the proposal by the Malacca DAP State Chairman, Sdr. Sim Tong Hin, to move out of the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat from his Bandar Hilir state seat to contest in Ayer Keroh.
I had agreed with Simís courageous move to try to achieve a new breakthrough for the DAP in Malacca by going to contest in Ayer Keroh, as it is a good example for DAP leaders to move from their incumbent seats whether parliamentary or state assembly to serve a larger strategic objective, whether to protect hard-won electoral gains, win-back a DAP seat which had been lost or to achieve a new political breakthrough by striking out into a new territory.
It was on this consideration that I had moved five times to new parliamentary constituencies, namely Kota Melaka, Petaling (Selangor), Tanjong , Bukit Bendera and Ipoh Timor and six times to new State Assembly constituencies, namely Kubu and Bandar Hilir (Malacca), Kampong Kolam, Padang Kota, Tanjong Bungah and Kebun Bunga (Penang). But never once did I move or shift from one parliamentary or state assembly seat to another in order to fight in an easier and more comfortable constituency. And never once did I make the move by endangering the electoral chances for the party in the incumbent seat that I was leaving.
This was why I could appreciate Simís proposal to shift from Bandar Hilir to Ayer Keroh, to win a new seat for the DAP Ė but this was of course always subject to clear proviso that it would not endanger the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat.
If it was clear right from the beginning that Kota Melaka parliamentary seat was facing peril, then Simís proposal to move out of the parliamentary constituency from Bandar Hilir to Ayer Keroh would not have been considered at all, as there would be no conditions for such a courageous shift.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor