(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): After a week of campaigning in the Repah by-election, it is legitimate to ask who is the Barisan Nasional candidate for Repah - Garry Gan of MCA or Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad, the Mentri Besar of Negri Sembilan?
The person who work the hardest in an election campaign should be the candidate of the party, and going by this criteria, it is Mohamad Isa and not Garry Gan who seems to be the Barisan Nasional candidate in the Repah by-election as the Mentri Besar is not only working harder than Garry Gan, but all MCA leaders put together! MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik has not even bothered to appear at the Repah constituency after nomination day - comfortably abroad for his so-called "official duties".
The Repah by-election is more important to Mohamed Isa than to Garry Gan, for the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar wants to use the Repah by-election to preserve his political kingdom in the state and fight off attempts to replace him as the head of government in the state.
Mohamed Isa wants to use Repah by-election to show that he is better than the Perak Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah who suffered an embarrassing political setback with the ignominous Barisan Nasional defeat in the Teluk Intan by-election on May 17. He also wants to show that he does not lose to the Selangor Mentri Besar-designate, Datuk Abu Hassan who is fighting the Permatang state constituency in Selangor. To do this, Mohamed Isa must not only win the Repah by-election but with an even bigger majority than the 2791 votes won by the Barisan Nasional in the 1995 general elections.
It is open secret that Negri Sembilan is one of the states that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, wanted to have a new Mentri Besar after the 1995 general elections - the others being Kedah and Trengganu.
Although Mahathir was recently ranked as the second most powerful man in Asia-Pacific after the Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, Mahathir took more than a year to impose his political will in Kedah, replacing Datuk Osman Aroff with Datuk Sanusi Junid.
The Prime Minister however has not been able to make any headway yet to change the heads of governments for the states of Negri Sembilan and Trengganu.
Mohamed Isa has seen the writing on the wall and wants to succeed where Osman Aroff failed - and this is why a Barisan Nasional win even bigger than the 1995 general election in the Repah by-election is so important and why Mohamed Isa has made Repah his personal fight for political survival to keep the Mentri Besar post.
The question is why should Mohamed Isa’s personal political agenda become the political agenda of the people of Repah and Negri Sembilan.
The new Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abu Zahar Isnin said in his maiden speech yesterday that he would not condone the presence of leaders and Government officers who had personal and hidden agendas in the administration of the state.
He said: "Those who think that their personal interests are more important than the Government’s agenda and their work should resign so that there will be no conflict of interest."
I commend the new Malacca Chief Minister for his promise to form a "clean, efficient and honest Government" although time will tell whether he could honour his pledge.
For Mohamed Isa, however, the time has come for the people to pass judgment as to whether he had run a "clean, efficient and honest Government" for over a decade. Many questions and doubts are raised in this regard, such as:
1. How could Mohamed Isa have a personal and hidden agenda of his own in the Repah by-election, which is to gain the political leverage to send a clear message to Mahathir that he should not be replaced as Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar on the ground of a great win in Repah by-election?
2. Can Mohamed Isa claim to be running a "clean, efficient and honest Government" when he could be so unethical and dishonest as to tell untruths as falsely alleging that the DAP is repeating our so-called Teluk Intan by-election tactics in telling the Malay voters not to come out and vote, on the ground the MCA candidate could win without Malay votes - which is a double lie, as the DAP had never done such a thing either in Teluk Intan or in Repah.
In fact, the DAP has decided to formally lodge a police report against Mohamed Isa tomorrow for committing the offence of "publishing false news" under the Printing Presses and Publications Act which, on conviction, is liable to the maximum penalty of RM3,000 fine, three years’ jail, or both, and his disqualification as Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar and Assemblyman.
The DAP police report against Mohamed Isa will be an acid test whether the offence of "publishing false news" in the Printing Presses and Publications Act is only to be used against the Opposition and NGOs, like DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, and Tenaganita director, Irene Fernandez while Barisan Nasional leaders are immune from prosecution under this law, regardless of the severity and frequency of the "false news" they publish.
The DAP police report against Mohammed Isa will also be an acid test as to whether the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah will stop abusing his discretionary powers of prosecution and is now exercising his discretionary powers impartially, without fear or favour.
3. Coming back to the question as to whether Mohamed Isa had run a "clean, efficient and honest Government", he has also failed up to now to respond to my call for him to account for all the land acquisition abuses in Negri Sembilan between 1991-1996.
The Minister for Land and Co-operative Development, Datuk Osu Sukam charged yesterday that state governments had "short-changed" landowners in enforcing the Land Acquisition Act, and as a result, one state government is facing about 100 legal suits.
The Minister admitted that abuse of power by State Governments in the acquisition of land for development purposes was rampant, forcing landowners to seek legal redress.
He said there were state governments which acquired land from private landowners and gave them to a third party to develop, and later, the third party sold the land to another party for a higher price.
Negri Sembilan is one of the states where there had been the most rampant abuses of land acquisition powers by the state government.
Although the Federal Government had last year directed state governments to freeze land acquisitions until new amendments to the Land Acquisition Act is passed by Parliament and become law, this does not resolve the injustices caused to landowners as a result of arbitrary and inequitable compulsory land acquisitions in Negri Sembilan between 1991-1996.
This is why the DAP is demanding that the Negri Sembilan State Executive Council should cancel all arbitrary and inequitable land acquisitions in the state between 1991-1996 which were made allegedly for economic development by the private sector.
Furthermore, the people must hold Mohamed Isa to full account for all the abuses of power in arbitrary and inequitable land acquisition for private development from 1991-1996, by subjecting all land acquisitions in this period to full public scrutiny - including why the Nilai new township has virtually fallen into the hands of one Negeri Sembilan MCA state leader!
4. In the Star today, 27.5.97, on corruption, Mohamed Isa said: "Does corruption not happen in DAP as well? It is not that we do not know of it but we do not want to talk about it."
I find this remark by Mohamed Isa most unbecoming and unbefitting for a Mentri Besar. This is another sign that Mohamed Isa has been the Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar for too long, and that the time has come for another UMNO leader to surface to take over the state government.
First, he made the serious insinuation that there is corruption in DAP. I challenge Mohamed Isa to formally lodge a police report if he has knowledge of corruption in the DAP, or he would be failing in his basic duty as a citizen - which makes him completely unqualified to continue in the high office of Mentri Besar.
Mohamed Isa should publicly lodge the report of corruption against the DAP so that if there is no basis whatsoever in his report, he could be charged in court for the offence of false report.
The remark by Mohamed Isa is also offensive and unacceptable, because it implied admission that there is corruption in the Negri Sembilan state government. What is the Mentri Besar doing about such corruption in Negri Sembilan?
On polling day on 29th May, the voters of Repah should vote for a new politics, for a new Mentri Besar in Negri Sembilan, smash the one-party Barisan Nasional monopoly in the State and restore the voice of the DAP in Negri Sembilan State Assembly, which is a restoration of the people’s voice for justice and fairplay and the correction of all the injustices committed by the Mohamed Isa State Government, whether on land acquisition or in other fields.