(Kuala Lumpur, Wednesday): Last week, Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik declared at the 10th anniversary dinner of Perak Wanita Gerakan in Teluk Intan that Gerakan would play the role of a watchdog to keep the DAP in Teluk Intan on its toes.
He said the Gerakan would act as an opposition to DAP in Teluk Intan but as a responsible opposition.
I welcome the Gerakanís offer to play a constructive political role in Teluk Intan although it had lost in the by-election.
The DAP and Gerakan belong to different political camps and had fought a hard fight in the Teluk Intan by-election on May 17,but there is no reason why DAP and Gerakan should be political enemies and cannot co-operate for the common good of the people of Teluk Intan as well as Malaysians as a whole.
Gerakan can play a constructive political role in Teluk Intan in two ways: firstly, using the words of Keng Yaik, "keeping the DAP on its toes" to ensure that the DAP does it utmost to fulfil its by-election pledges, which are best represented in the Teluk Intan by-election 20-Points on the peopleís fundamental demands and aspirations.
If the Gerakan wants to "keep the DAP on its toes" on these Teluk Intan by-election 20-Points, it must be sincere and humble enough to endorse these 20-Points and explain how Gerakan proposes to help DAP promote these 20-Points in the Cabinet and Parliament.
One of the key issues in the Teluk Intan by-election 20-Points is the call to the government and the nation to declare an all-out war against corruption, and I hope Keng Yaik could be the spokesman of the people of Teluk Intan in the Cabinet in asking the government to adopt "zero corruption" as a national objective.
The second manner in which the Gerakan can play a constructive political role in Teluk Intan is for the Gerakan to ensure that the Barisan Nasional keeps all its promises in the by-election with regard to the various development projects for the constituency.
Keng Yaik announced last week that the defeated Gerakan candidate in the by-election, Dr. Chee See Choke would be Gerakanís "key player" in Teluk Intan.
As the Perak Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah, had graciously announced after the Teluk Intan by-election that despite the by-election loss, the Barisan Nasional government would still keep to its various promises on developments for the constituency, Dr. Chee should give a half-yearly report of the progress of the Barisan Nasional in fulfilling its variouls development promises made during the by-election.
I hope Dr. Chee would make public the first report latest by November 17 this year and the DAP would defintely remind him of this responsibility.
The DAP fought three by-elections last month, the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election on May 17, the Kemena state assembly by-election in Sarawak on May 25 and the Repah state assembly by-election in Negri Sembilan on May 29.
Although the DAP won one and lost in two, all the three by-elections had far-reaching political significance and were important political tests for the DAP.
In the Teluk Intan by-election, the people of Teluk Intan "wrote history and created miracle" in generating a Richter 6 "political earthquake" by standing tall in the defence of the fundamental constitutional rights of Malaysians for justice, fair play, freedom and equitable development as to earn the name of "Defend Constitution Town".
In the Kemena by-election in Sarawak, as a political observer of Sarawak politics had noted, the significance of the result is not that the 22-year incumbent Iban Minister won but that DAP did not lose deposit in a constituency with nearly 90 per cent Iban electorate and faced with the entire might of the Sarawak State Government - underlining the important breakthrough the DAP had made into the Iban heartland, which will have great political implications for the medium and long term in Sarawak politics.
In the Repah by-election in Negri Sembilan, which is a Class One Barisan Nasional stronghold, the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Mohamed Isa was fighting for his political life and lost when he failed to fulfil his boast to make the DAP candidate lose his deposit. The Repah by-election showed that despite its victory, Barisan Nasional in Negri Sembilan was past its prime in the state when with both the Mentri Besar and the entire MCA national leadership (minus MCA National President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik) fighting for their political life, they could not achieve better results than in the 1995 general elections.
The MCA is already paying the price of putting "all their eggs" in the Repah by-election basket, instructing all MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and elected representatives apart from those in Selangor to campaign in Repah the last few days of the by-election - neglecting in the process the by-election campaign of the Selangor Mentri Besar-designate Datuk Abu Hassan in Permatang by-election in Selangor. One consequence is the appointment of a Gerakan State Exco member in the new and enlarged Selangor State Government line-up, leading to public complaints by the MCA Youth Leader, Datuk Chan Kong Choy that Datuk Abu Hassan had "overlooked" MCAís contributions in Selangor!
The MCA leadership has only itself to blame for the loss of its political weight and influence in the Barisan Nasional when it decided to give greater priority to a "sunset" Mentri Besar in Negri Sembilan rather than to a "sun-rise" Mentri Besar in Selangor.
After fighting the three by-elections last month, the DAP must take stock of the mixed results as well as the long-term political significance of the by-elections.
We must not allow ourselves to be carried away by the Richter 6 "political earthquake" in the Teluk Intan by-election into thinking that all we have to do now is just to sit under the tree to wait for the durians to fall - which is a recipe for an even greater defeat for the DAP in the next general elections as compared to the 1995 general elections.
Neither should the DAP be discouraged by our failure to create "political miracles" in Kemena or Repah, for politics is rarely about "miracles" but sheer devotion, hard work, commitment and dedication to our political principles and the service of the people - or to use the famous Churchillian phrase, through "blood, toil, tears and sweat"!
I dare say that after the three by-elections fought by the DAP last month, we can begin to see "light at the end of the tunnel" after the disastrous defeats we suffered in the 1995 general elections - provided we realise that times have changed, that the DAP of yesteryear cannot meet the aspirations of the new young generation and that the DAP must make itself relevant again to the needs and dreams of Malaysians by remaking ourselves into a New DAP.
This is the challenge to the party leadership and membership - whether we can collectively create a New DAP to meet the challenges of the new millennium, to make the DAP the automatic hope of the new generation of Malaysians for a better tomorrow as the DAP had been such a beacon to the young generation in the first three decades of our life.