(Petaling Jaya, Monday): Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik said in Bruas yesterday that it was unbecoming of an opposition party in the country for the DAP to call for a debate on the key issue of the Barisan Nasional's Sungai Bakap by-election campaign to make it a test of confidence in Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister. (New Straits Times 3.11.97)
Keng Yaik said he questioned the sincerity of the DAP in calling for the debate. He said as the country was going through an economic and currency crisis as a result of foreign market manipulation, the people must be united and support the measures taken by the Government to help restore the situation.
It is Keng Yaik who has been making statements which is most unbecoming of a Cabinet Minister, as in his allegation at the Gerakan Deepavali Open House last Thursday "at the time of national crisis, DAP had joined hands with external enemies to destroy the people's confidence in the government".
This is tantamount to a charge of economic sabotage, and many Malaysians had been detained under the Internal Security Act for undermining the economy of the country.
I challenge Keng Yaik to a public debate, among other things, to give him an opportunity to produce proof to substantiate his grave charge that "at the time of national crisis, DAP had joined hands with external enemies to destroy the people's confidence in the government".
Can Keng Yaik also name these "external enemies" with whom DAP had joined hands to "destroy the people's confidence in the government"?
Keng Yaik dare not accept the debate challenge because he knows he would be exposed as highly opportunistic, irresponsible and unpatriotic in playing the "Mahathir card" in the Sungai Bakap by-election just to get votes for Gerakan candidate
If Keng Yaik is unable to produce any iota of proof for his serious allegation which tantamout to alleging DAP leaders as anti-national, disloyal and traitors to the country, is Keng Yaik preparing the conditions where the Gerakan leadership could apply pressure for the mass detention of DAP leaders, as happened ten years ago during Operation Lalang?
Keng Yaik seems to have become a "political desperado" to be making such a baseless and preposterous allegation against DAP leaders.
But this is not the only desperate thing Keng Yaik is doing in the Sungai Bakap by-election.
Another reason why Keng Yaik dare not accept the debate challenge by the DAP is because he knows he would be exposed as highly opportunistic, irresponsible and unpatriotic in playing the "Mahathir card" in the Sungai Bakap by-election just to get votes for Gerakan candidate, putting Mahahtir in an embarrassing "no-win" situation.
Firstly, if Keng Yaik really believes that the Sungai Bakap by-election is a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister not only for the country but for the world, then he should be camping and campaigning in Sungai Bakap from nomination to polling day to win over every possible voter to show his love and loyalty to Mahathir. But he had not dared to step into the Sungai Bakap constituency at all since Nomination Day, for he knows that his pronouncements have made him highly popular, and his presence can only undermine rather than increase voter-support for the Gerakan candidate.
Secondly, Keng Yaik cannot be so "foolish" as not to know that he is creating a "no-win" situation for Mahathir by turning the Sungai Bakap by-election into a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister, as a single-vote reduction in the Gerakan majority in the by-election as compared to the Gerakan majority in the 1995 general election would be construed as a setback for Mahathir.
I concede that Gerakan is going to win in Sungai Bakap, but I dare to assert that its 5,327-vote majority in the last general elections is bound to be slashed. The question is whether the Gerakan majority is going to be slashed to below 3,000 votes, 2,000 votes, 1,000 votes or even below 500 votes.
If Keng Yaik really loves and respects Mahathir as Prime Minister, why is he doing such a foolish and disloyal thing which could only cause national and international embarrassment to Mahathir in putting the Prime Minister in the invidious situation where a single-vote reduction in the Barisan Nasional's 5,327-vote majority in 1995 general elections could be exploited as proof that Mahathir had lost the confidence of the people?
Keng Yaik could have no answer to the question, and this is why he dared not accept the DAP challenge to a public debate whether the Gerakan strategy in the Sungai Bakap by-election is a service or a disservice to Mahathir and Malaysia by trying to turn it into a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister.
The DAP has declared full support to Mahathir if there is any international conspiracy to topple him as Prime Minister as although we are an opposition party, we cannot countenance any foreign interference in the domestic political affairs of Malaysia.
The DAP has also declared full support for Mahathir to take all necessary measures to overcome the national economic crisis, which had started with the twin crisis of currency and stockmarket and which may spread to the property market; but unlike Keng Yaik and Gerakan, the DAP support is not blind or uncritical support, as we reserve the right to criticise and even oppose policies and measures which are wrong, misguided or counter-productive to the primary objective of restoring national and international confidence in the economy.
Keng Yaik should rise above petty party politics and stop playing the "Mahathir card" in the Sungai Bakap by-election, which is only a State Assembly seat and not even an election to Parliament.
Keng Yaik should be more statesmanlike for a change, and I invite the Gerakan candidate, together with the DAP candidate and the other two Independent candidates, to issue a joint declaration to the nation and the world 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 on polling day.
Is Keng Yaik responsible, patriotic and nationalistic enough to give a positive response to this proposal for the good of Mahathir and Malaysia?