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Malaysian opposition party faces financial collapse, seeks fund

Date: 14 Dec 1999
Time: 19:23:11


Malaysian opposition party faces financial collapse, seeks fund

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (AFP) - A Malaysian opposition party, facing a financial crisis, Tuesday launched a fund-raising campaign and unveiled plans to rebuild the party after a "catastrophic" election result. The Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) hopes to raise five million ringgit (1.3 million dollars) to fund its operations for the next five years, said chairman Lim Kit Siang.

Following two consecutive "election catastrophes" in 1995 and last month, Lim told a news conference the party now faced "impending financial collapse."

The DAP's main source of income comes from contributions from its members of parliament and state assemblymen.

In the 1995 polls, Lim said the DAP's 20 parliamentary and 45 state assembly seats were slashed to nine and 11 respectively. But two MPs were later disqualified which "virtually destroyed" its financial mainstay.

The party then operated on a shoestring basis with hopes that things would improve in the next polls. But Lim said the November 29 election proved to be "another disaster" for DAP which won only 10 parliamentary and 11 state seats.

Lim himself was defeated after three decades in parliament and lost his post as opposition leader. He stepped down as DAP secretary-general but was appointed chairman.

Lim said the party's central executive committee at a meeting Sunday voiced disgust at what it called a "campaign of falsehoods and intimidation" by the ruling National Front coalition.

He accused the Front of confusing, misleading and scaring ethnic Chinese voters into believing that a vote for DAP was a vote for the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) and its ultimate goal of an Islamic state.

PAS and DAP are part of an opposition alliance, along with the National Justice Party and the Malaysian People's Party.

Although the National Front kept its two-thirds parliamentary majority, it lost the state assembly of northeastern Terengganu to PAS. PAS also retained neighbouring Kelantan and more than tripled its parliamentary seats to 27.

Lim said party members remained largely united despite the election setback.

"The DAP and the Malaysian people feel they had been cheated of the historic opportunity to recast the political landscape," he said.

He said the central executive committee also recognised the party had many weaknesses in terms of organisation and publicity.

It planned to "undergo a total political and organisational revamp to reinvent the DAP to better meet the political challenges of the new millennium," Lim said.

"Leaders and members are prepared to start from scratch to rebuild the DAP to ensure that the political opportunity to smash the National Front political hegemony is not completely lost," he said.

"We are however faced with a unsuperable obstacle -- finance."

The party appealed to Malaysians who believe the DAP still has an important political role to rally to the "Save DAP Campaign."

"We estimated that if the DAP is to undergo a total revamp to re-seize the opportunity to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics, we need a million ringgit a year for our party operations."

Lim said the DAP now has reserves and capital to last for only "six months to a year" and may be forced to sell off its party headquarters -- a modest house in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.

Asked if the DAP will seek help from its partners in the opposition alliance, he said: "This is our own problem. We have to face it ourself."

Lim acknowledged there were calls for him to resign from all party posts and said he would make a decision after obtaining public feedback in the next two to three months.

"I will not tarry a day longer if I have outlived my political usefulness," he added.

Last changed: December 14, 1999