Hadi’s May 13 warning gives Umno fodder against third vote, Kit Siang says


(Malay Mail Online) – Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s use of the bloody May 13 racial riots to object to DAP’s push for local government elections will likely inspire Umno leaders to do the same, Lim Kit Siang warned today.

The Gelang Patah MP said such an excuse could be expected of Umno but not the president of PAS, a component party of an opposition coalition that has pledged to champion multiracialism.

“For the past 45 years, the spectre of May 13 had been the favourite weapon of unscrupulous Umno leaders to intimidate voters from freely and democratically exercising their constitutional right to vote,” Lim said in a statement here,

“But I had never expected that a day would come when it would also be invoked by an opposition leader in a manner which Umno leaders had never done before,” he added.

The DAP parliamentary leader pointed out that Umno politicians have never used the May 13 example to reject the demand that local council polls be restored, but were likely to do so now as Hadi has set the precedent.

Defending the DAP’s “third vote” agenda, the senior politician said opponents of the plan have ignored the fact that over the past 45 years, many Malays from the countryside have migrated to the cities.

He pointed out that the country’s ethnic majority would actually benefit more if local council polls were restored since most major capitals in Malaysia are now Malay-majority.

Based on this, Lim said it was wrong for Hadi to use race as an excuse to reject the campaign for a third vote.

“It is not only wrong to equate the restoration of the third vote, which the people in the country had enjoyed in the fifties and early sixties, Hadi also made a grievous mistake in giving a racial twist by suggesting that the restoration of local government elections is a grab for political power by the Chinese in the urban areas,” he said.

Lim’s DAP colleague and Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming had recently pointed out that the racial demography in urban councils had changed significantly since the 1969 race riots, citing data from the latest census in 2010 to support his argument.

Ong said government statistics showed Malays, at 25.9 per cent, outnumbered ethnic Chinese by 2.7 percentage points in the national capital, even pointing out that ethnic Chinese topped Malays only in six urban areas: Ipoh, Kuching Selatan, Johor Baru Tengah, Pulau Pinang, Sibu and Subang Jaya.

Lim also said Hadi’s reasoning that the DAP was for local council polls for strategic reasons was flawed.

“It is difficult to understand what Hadi meant when he said that DAP’s insistence on holding local council elections could cause a deeper racial divide as well as tensions, especially in the Chinese majority areas — when according to the 2010 census, there are only three local authorities which were Chinese-majority, namely Sibu, Pulau Pinang  and Kuching Selatan,” he said.

Citing greater transparency, DAP recently suggested its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) allies adopt Penang’s approach and enact state laws in Selangor and Kelantan to try to return the third vote to Malaysians.

But Hadi panned the idea on grounds that bringing back local elections would cause disunity, leading to racial riots once more.

Then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had told Parliament that local elections would resume after the Indonesian Confrontation ended, which happened a year later in 1966.

Lim said since Malaysia is now peaceful, it’s time that the government restore local council polls.