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Speech By Lim Guan Eng During The DAP General Election National Convention In The Red Rock Hotel In Penang On 27 January 2008: 

The 2008 General Elections Will Either Give Hope To Secure Our Children’s Future With National Unity, Greater Political Freedoms, Economic Opportunity And Shared Prosperity Or Condemn Malaysians To Relive Over and Over Again UMNO’s Discriminatory And Divisive Policies 

I wish to first thank all DAP leaders and members throughout the country for taking time away from preparing for the Chinese New Year and travelling far to be here in Penang for this important DAP 12th General Elections National Convention. The journey you have taken is worthwhile because we are all united by a common belief - That Malaysia Can Do Better! 

When Malaysia undertook the great journey of Merdeka in 1957, we were promised basic human rights and freedom, political equality, equal economic opportunity, shared prosperity and socio-economic justice. 50 years later these Merdeka promises remain unfulfilled. We have somehow not lived up to our expectations and our potential.

Malaysians face a crucial choice. We either stand condemned for repeating the past mistakes and failures or change by rising up to the challenges of a new globalised community.  

The Barisan Nasional government has failed to deliver its promises of justice, respect for rule of law, sharing our economic wealth, lower crime rates, equal opportunity, reduced corruption, greater political freedom, accountability and good governance during the 2004 General Elections. 

The crime index in Malaysia rose by a record 45% between 2003 and 2007 with violent crimes increasing by 119%. 9 women get raped daily now as compared to half the number when Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi first became Prime Minister. 

Rising prices has made life more difficult. The government claims that inflation is only 2%. This is a lie when we all know that prices have increased by more than 20%. Corruption has worsened than when Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister in 2003 with mega scandals such as the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Trade Zone Scandal or extraordinary wealth accumulated by the Port Klang ADUN Datuk Zakaria.  

From No. 37 in the 2003 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index when Abdullah became Prime Minister, Malaysia has dropped to No. 43 in 2007. US financial research house Morgan Stanley even estimated that Malaysia lost US$100 billion to corruption over the last two decades. 

Malaysians Demand Fair And Equal Treatment, Not As Political Beggars

Whilst the Rakyat are suffering from high crimes, corruption and inflation, the government continues to restrict human rights and freedoms with ISA arrests and impose draconian media control. DAP reiterates our demands for the immediate and unconditional release of the 5 Hindraf leaders under ISA detentions in Kamunting. 

Any community would demonstrate and protest if their temples are torn down and Tamil schools discriminated until they are built near cemeteries. DAP condemns MIC and BN for using the ISA against those who tell the truth. 

Chinese and Tamil primary schools do not get a fair allocation. Chinese primary schools only receive 3.6% of total development allocation despite having 21.2% of the student population and Tamil primary schools 1.3% of development funds despite having 3.2% of the total number of primary school students. This works out to development funds of RM 4,50 and RM 11 for each Chinese and Tamil primary school student respectively per month as compared to RM 33.30 per student per month for national primary schools. Abdullah allocated RM23.5 million to one secondary school in Penang, much higher than all the 96 Penang Chinese primary schools combined. 

Instead of voicing our sufferings and aspirations, BN Wakil Rakyats uses foul language to demean women, the disabled community, minority races and religions without being punished. Malaysia is already 50 years old. We are no longer a child but our leaders sometimes behave worse than a child. Its time to send Wakil Rakyats with integrity, decency, righteousness and some intelligence into Parliament and State Assemblies.  

Malaysians have suffered enough! We can do better. Malaysians demand fair and equal treatment, not be treated as political beggars who can be bought over with a few thousand ringgit for temples and schools during general election. 

The coming general elections is not simply a contest between political parties. It is shaping up as a contest of principles and ideals. Between ideas of change and inertia, knowledge and ignorance, justice and injustice, freedom and oppression, equal opportunity and  cronyism, integrity and corruption and between right and wrong. 

8 Core Issues And A RM 40 Billion Stimulus Economic Plan

There are 8 core issues that matters to Malaysians:-

1) Institutionalising democracy with electoral reforms of clean and fair elections, reintroduce local government elections, abolition of all laws that are against basic human rights and freedoms as well as end all discriminatory practices based on race, religion and political affiliation;

2) Need for shared prosperity and hardships by reducing the burdens caused by rising prices and inflation. DAP proposes a RM 40 billion stimulus plan to give a yearly RM 3,000 to individuals earning less than RM 3,000 a month and a yearly RM 6,000 to families with combined incomes of less than RM 6,000/-;

3) Introducing the Malaysian First Economic Policy based on equal opportunity, needs and performance;

4) Crime prevention by employing 100,000 more policemen to patrol the streets and establishing the Independent Complaints and Misconduct Commission(IPCMC) to restore public confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of the police;

5) Quality education centered on excellence and needs. Education should not be politicized but all schools, including vernacular schools, should be treated fairly based on needs;

6) Fighting gender discrimination;

7) Promoting good governance with integrity by fighting corruption; and

8) A healthy environment with clean air and water.

This contest is more than just a battle for the hearts and minds of voters, it is a critical battle for the future of Malaysia. Malaysians need to shed our fears and fatalistic mindset if we are to succeed to facing up to changes of globalization. BN forgets that freedom is an integral part of development.

Development As Freedom

In his book, “Development as Freedom”, the great economist for the poor and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wrote that development is a process of expanding real freedoms. He identified 5 instrumental freedoms that contribute towards the general capability of a person to live more freely:-

  1. Political freedoms
  2. Economic facilities
  3. Social opportunities
  4. Transparency guarantees
  5. Protective security

Political freedoms encompass basic human rights and freedoms ranging from freedom of expression to freedom of the press and information; democratic elections at all levels including local government and respect for rule of law. Economic facilities refer to opportunities to utilize economic resources. Social opportunities refer to education, health and other arrangements that influence an individual freedom to live better. Transparency guarantees gives the freedom to deal with one another under full disclosure to prevent corruption and malpractices. Protective security is needed to provide social safety net to prevent deprivation and poverty by providing social assistance and disaster relief. 

There is no doubt that based on Amartya’s parameters of economic and political freedom, Malaysia has failed to fulfill our Merdeka promise of basic human rights and freedom, political equality, equal economic opportunity, shared prosperity and socio-economic justice. The time has come to begin our next 50 years journey by reclaiming the Merdeka promises. Not just for ourselves but for our children.

When DAP seeks a brighter future for our children by opposing UMNO or its surrogates/agents in MCA, MIC, SUPP and Gerakan, DAP is accused of “using Chinese to check Chinese”. And yet MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC continues to support UMNO’s policies they know are wrong.  

And also urge voter to support extremist UMNO leaders and MPs such as the one-eye open, one-eye close MP from Jasin, the “bocor” UMNO MPs, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali who opposed building new Chinese primary schools and pig rearing, Penang Deputy Chief Minister for directing the destruction of the Too Boo Keong temple and Selangor Chief Minister for destroying Hindu temples.  

MCA/Gerakan/MIC have a deficit – a moral and courage deficit. A moral deficit by supporting that is wrong and turning black to white as well as a courage deficit by not daring to stand up for what is right.  

A Vote For MCA/Gerakan/MIC/SUPP Is A Vote For UMNO’s Political Dominance 

Clearly by continuing to support UMNO’s policies detrimental to the Chinese community and Malaysians, it is MCA/Gerakan that is actually “using Chinese to check Chinese” of “Malaysians to check Malaysians”. To send a strong message of disapproval to UMNO, Malaysians need to reduce MCA/Gerakan/MIC votes or seats won because each vote supporting MCA/Gerakan/MIC is equivalent to supporting UMNO. 

DAP wishes to stress that we are not fighting only for Chinese votes or Indian votes. We are fighting for every Malaysian vote to reduce UMNO’s political dominance that threatens national unity and democracy in Malaysia. UMNO’s political dominance is built on discrimination and division based on race and religion.  

DAP believes in democracy and equality. We believe our ideas are superior, our ideals stronger and our principles nobler. We gather today to discuss our General Election Manifesto offering solutions to our nation’s problems and make a positive difference in lives of ordinary Malaysians. The highest income inequality in Malaysia is unacceptable that 20% of the richest population owns 51.2% of the economic wealth whilst the poorest 40% owns only 13.5%. There must be equal opportunity, shared prosperity and rule of law. 

We will also talk about the state of our elections preparations and the need of potential candidates to move as part of a team. We shall also discuss how to deal with BN’s politics of money, fear, threats, lies and cheating to pervert the voters’ will with assistance from the Election Commission. DAP must fight the coming general elections as one team, one heart, one spirit and one agenda of change. 

Malaysians must first believe that Malaysia needs a change. Change to perform better. We must believe in our ability to change. DAP can not bring about change alone, we have to do it together.  

The 2008 general elections will either give hope to secure our children’s future with national unity, greater political freedoms, economic opportunity and shared prosperity or condemn Malaysians to relive over and over again UMNO’s discriminatory and divisive policies.  

Therefore, Malaysians arise. You have nothing to lose but your fears. Your have every political and economic freedom to gain. We Can Do Better. Just Change it! 

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year.

* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General


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