(Penang, Saturday): The 16,589 voters of Sungai Bakap have suddenly found that they are the most powerful people in the country, more powerful than all the other 21 million Malaysians put together as they have the power to determine the political future of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister of Malaysia.
Or this is what the Gerakan leaders are trying to make the Sungai Bakap voters to believe - that their votes would decide whether Mahathir continues or steps down as Prime Minister.
It would appear that the 16,589 voters in Sungai Bakap are more powerful than all the Cabinet Ministers added together and even more powerful than Parliament, which under the Malaysian Constitution is the place to decide who should be the Prime Minister depending on his ability to command the support of the majority of MPs.
Gerakan State Exco member, Dr. Kang Chin Seng, for instance, said that there is a powerful international conspiracy which is trying to force Mahathir to step down as Prime Minister and that the role of the Sungai Bakap voters in the by-election is that of "saviours" to give full support to Mahathir so that he could continue as Prime Minister.
Frankly speaking, I do not know what Keng Yaik, Chin Seng and Gerakan are talking about when they claim that there is a powerful international conspiracy which is trying to force Mahathir to step down as Prime Minister. Can Keng Yaik and the Gerakan name names so that Malaysians can see the faces behind the powerful international conspiracy out to topple Mahathir as Prime Minister.
Is it President Clinton of United States, Prime Minister Tony Blair of United Kingdom, is it financier George Soros or is it an international Jewish conspiracy?
May be, Keng Yaik and the Gerakan can also enlighten the people as to who this powerful international conspiracy seeks to promote to become Prime Minister if they succeed in toppling Mahathir.
Keng Yaik, Chin Seng and the Gerakan want the people of Sungai Bakap to believe that Malaysia has powerful external enemies who want to topple Mahathir as Prime Minister, but I am sure none of them is able to tell the people the identities of these "powerful external enemies".
How are Keng Yaik, Chin Seng and the Gerakan going to help Mahathir to fight this war against these "powerful external enemies" when they don't know who are these enemies and unable to identify them? They don't even pass Sun Tzu's maxim in The Art of War: "Know your enemy, know yourself; hundred battles, hundred victories".
Here Keng Yaik, Chin Seng and the Gerakan clearly do not know the "powerful external enemies".
All Chin Seng can say when he talked about "powerful external enemies" are the financial speculators. As we can see, the financial crisis involving the currency and the stockmarket had snowballed to many countries, starting from Thailand and spreading to Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and even the United States. Is anybody seriously suggesting that there is an international financial conspiracy to topple the heads of governments of all these countries?
In 1992, Bank Negara was involved in the currency speculation of the British pound, but we got our fingers badly burnt, losing a colossal sum of RM30 billion in foreign exchange, which was twelve times bigger than the Bumiputra Malaysia Finance scandal a decade ago.
Was Malaysia in 1992, when involved in the currency of the British pound, trying to topple the then British Prime Minister?
Although neither Keng Yaik, Gerakan nor any other Barisan Nasional party could enlighten Malaysians as to whether there is, and the identities of the key players of such, an international conspiracy to topple Mahathir as Prime Minister, the DAP had unstintingly and unreservedly declared our support for Mahathir as Prime Minister against any attempt by any foreign powers to interfere in the domestic political affairs of Malaysia.
But this DAP support is not a blind support nor will it deter us from continuing to speak up to uphold and advance the rights and interests of Malaysians of all races to justice, equality, freedom and fairplay.
I sincerely advise Keng Yaik and Gerakan to stop playing politics with the issue of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister just to get votes for the Gerakan candidate in the by-election.
If Keng Yaik really believes that the Sungai Bakap would have a great bearing on the future of Mahathir as Prime Minister, then he should camp in Sungai Bakap from nomination to polling day to win over every possible voter to show his love and loyalty to Mahathir. But he has not come to Sungai Bakap at all since Nomination Day. The reason why Keng Yaik is not campaigning in Sungai Bakap everyday is because he does not believe in his own and his party's propaganda in the by-election!
In any event, I would like to advise Keng Yaik and the other Gerakan leaders that the Sungai Bakap by-election is only a Penang State Assembly by-election and not even a Parliamentary by-election. Let us conduct ourselves in a serious, responsible and mature fashion where Mahathir is not forced into a "no-win" situation by turning the by-election into a vote of confidence for Mahathir as Prime Minister.
Although Gerakan is bound to win in Sungai Bakap, its 5,327-vote majority in the last general elections is bound to be slashed. Let us not put Mahathir in the invidious situation where a single-vote reduction in the Barisan Nasional's 5,327-vote majority in 1995 general elections could be taken as proof that Mahathir had lost the confidence of the people.
For this reason, DAP proposes a joint declaration by all four candidates in the Sungai Bakap by-election declaring that the by-election is not a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister so as not to place Mahathir in an embarrassing no-win situation.
However, if Keng Yaik and the Gerakan insist on turning the Sungai Bakap by-election into a vote of confidence on Mahathir as Prime Minister, then they should be prepared to explain, not only to the country and the world, but also to Mahathir himself, why they insist on creating a "no-win" situation where Mahathir is sure to lose, although the DAP has now given them a way out with the proposal of a joint declaration by all the four candidates that the Sungai Bakap by-election has nothing to do with the question of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister.