(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): I find the statement by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub yesterday on the allegation that some political parties had been circulating pamphlets claiming that the MCA candidate did not need Malay votes to win the Repah state assembly by-election on Thursday most disappointing.
Megat said the Special Branch would initiate investigations into the matter although it would be "difficult to nail the culprit" and expressed the belief that the DAP was responsible.
If Megat was speaking as an UMNO politician out to woo the voters of Repah, careless of the truth or otherwise of his statement, his comment yesterday was understandable. But if he had reacted as Deputy Home Minister, he must be mindful of his paramount duty as an important official with the responsibility to be the custodian of law and order, then he had acted most irresponsibly in acting on hearsay.
Had Megat seen the pamphlets in question? I have not seen them. Can Megat show me copies of these pamphlets - to prove that these are not figments of the imagination of the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Mohamad Isa Abdul Samah, who was the first to make the baseless and preposterous allegation that he DAP was repeating its Teluk Intan by-election campaign tactics in telling the Malay voters not to come out to vote, on the ground that the MCA candidate can win without Malay votes.
Mohd Isa had been challenged to produce evidence to back his allegation, but he has not been able to do so up to now.
Can Megat prove what Mohd Isa has not been able to do - to produce proof that there are pamphlets asking the Malay voters in Repah not to vote and that they are the work of the DAP?
If Megat is unable to produce such proofs, he is going against the advice he had given yesterday in urging all parties and candidates to fight a clean election campaign and not to use the "dirty tactic" of hitting below the belt in the by-elections.
Megat should know better than anyone else in the Barisan Nasional that Mohamad Isa was manufacturing "false news" when he alleged that the DAP had asked the Malay voters in the Teluk Intan by-election not to come out and vote on the ground that the Gerakan candidate could win without Malay votes.
In fact, Megat showed himself to be a very professional political leader immediately after the Teluk Intan by-election when he analysed the reasons for the Barisan Nasionalís shock defeat.
Megat told the press a day after the Teluk Intan by-election result that he had been informed by the police on Nomination Day on May 7 that the by-election would be used by certain sections of the people to show their dissatisfaction with the Barisan Nasional Government, which was one important cause of the low voter-turnout.
He said many Malay voters in Teluk Intan did not turn out to cast their votes to protest against the attitude of the previous Gerakan Member of Parliament who did not take their problems seriously, and also because of their dissatisfaction over unfair alienation of land which led to a demonstration at the Teluk Intan district council during a visit of the Perak Mentri Besar before nomination.
These were indeed some of the reasons for the Barisan Nasional defeat in the Teluk Intan by-election. How come there is now suddenly a new version given by the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar that one cause was because of the DAPís call to the Malay voters in Teluk Intan not to come out to vote as the Gerakan candidate could win without Malay votes?
Megat should know that Mohd Isa was publishing "false news" in making such an allegation, which is an offence under the Printing Presses and Publications Act. The DAP is seriously considering lodging a police report against Mohd Isa for the offence of publishing "false news" which on conviction, entails a fine of RM20,000, three yearsí jail or both.
Be that as it may, the issue in Repah by-election is becoming clearer and clearer. It is not about whether Garry Gan would be elected as State Assemblyman for Repah, but as to whether the time has come for Negri Sembilan to have a new Mentri Besar.
It is open secret that Negri Sembilan is one of the states which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad wanted to have a new head of government after the 1995 general elections, but he was only able to implement his intention for the state of Kedah (and this after more than a yearís resistance from the former Kedah Mentri Besar) and had not been able to have his way in other states, one of which is Negri Sembilan.
This is also why Mohamad Isa is campaigning so hard in the Repah by-election, harder than any MCA national or state leader or even the MCA candidate himself - for Mohamad Isa is campaigning for an even greater victory in the Repah by-election than during the 1995 general elections so that he could leverage this result with the Prime Minister to allow him to continue as Mentri Besar of Negri Sembilan until the end of the current term.
There had been a lot of abuses of power under Mohamad Isa as Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, particularly in arbitrary and inequitable compulsory land acquisition abuses.
The voters of Repah, whether Malays, Chinese or Indians, have therefore the unique opportunity to speak up on behalf of the people of the whole state of Negri Sembilan to decide whether the time has come for Negri Sembilan to have a new Mentri Besar, who is less arrogant, more humble, more people-oriented, more accountable and more prepared to right the injustices done to the people in the previous five years in arbitrary and inequitable acquisition of the peopleís land for private development and profit by a handful of people in the State.