(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): On Sunday, I said that the voters of Sungai Bakap have a tryst with history on November 8, and I called on them to use the Sungai Bakap by-election to speak up and be the conscience and voice of the Penang state and the Malaysian nation to demand for a better government, whether at state or federal level, not only for themselves, but for all Penangites, Malaysians and future generations.
Whatever the final outcome of the Sungai Bakap by-election result on November 8, let the voters of Sungai Bakap stand on the side of history by speaking loud and clear on behalf of all Malaysians regardless of race, language, culture or religion their fundamental demands, aspirations and stands.
The State Assembly by-election of Sungai Bakap is the focus of both state and national attention because the significance of the by-election transcends the question of who is to be elected as the new State Assemblyman for Sungai Bakap, but is a mid-term verdict on the Barisan Nasional government after its unprecedented landslide victory in the 1995 general elections, virtually crushing the Opposition with the DAP suffering its worst general elections debacle in our 30-year history.
In less than five months after the April 1995 general elections, the people of Bagan created history when they spoke out loud and clear in the Bagan parliamentary by-election on September 9, 1995 that the Barisan Nasional government had made a great error in interpreting its unprecedented landslide general elections victory as a rejection of the DAP as well as democracy in favour of development.
History continued to be made in the Malaysian political arena when in September last year, for the first time in 18 years, the DAP succeeded in making a breakthrough in the Sarawak state general elections when it won three state assembly seats.
In May this year, the people of Teluk Intan joined in the great process of "writing history, creating miracle" when they created the Richter 6 political earthquake and elected a DAP Member of Parliament in a constituency which nobody expected the Gerakan to lose or the DAP to win.
I invite the people of Sungai Bakap to join the people of Bagan, the Sarawak voters and the people of Teluk Intan to "write history, create miracle" by taking the historic process of political change in Penang and Malaysia to a new milestone, by creating another political earthquake, whether Richter 7 or Richter 6.
I had put forward Ten Fundamental Positions, Demands and Aspirations to be the Political Declaration of the People of Sungai Bakap as to why they want to "write history, create miracle". I now propose a Further Ten Fundamental Positions, Demands and Aspirations for adoption by the voters of Sungai Bakap in the by-election on November 8:
11. CONDEMN AND DEPLORE dirty, unethical and unprincipled politics during elections, especially money politics, abuse of government funds and resources, personal attacks and character-assassination, whether of the living or the dead, whether to malign the reputation of the opposing candidate or as a "self-torture trickery" to win votes for oneself.
12. DECLARE that development is the fundamental right of the people of Sungai Bakap, Penang and Malaysia, and should not be used as a "government bribe" to get votes, as all citizens pay taxes to contribute to the government coffers and there should be no discrimination against the people in development on grounds of who is elected Assemblyman for the area.
13. DEMAND the amendment of the election laws to provide that threats to voters that they would be left out of the mainstream of development if they vote opposition should be regarded as a form of "corruption" and an election offence leading to the disqualification of the candidate on whose behalf they were issued.
14. EXPRESS grave disappointment that the all-out war against corruption which was announced by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when he was Acting Prime Minister in the mid-year, and his pledge that "Now is the time to act…we will catch the big ones and we will catch the small ones" has fizzled into nothing; DEMAND that the Government fulfil the commitment given by Anwar Ibrahim that action would be taken not only against those for taking RM20 bribes but also against those guilty of RM20 million corruption; and that there should be speedy investigation and public accounting of the "6-2-1-8" Corruption Cases, involving six Ministers, two Deputy Ministers, one parliamentary secretary and eight state executive councillors.
15. DEMAND that the whole nation should make the war against corruption as the first item of national agenda with the national target to be among the 10 cleanest and least corrupt nations in the world - instead of being placed in the 32nd position in the Transparency International's international corruption perception index for 1997, which was even lower than the 23rd placing in 1995 and 26th placing in 1996.
16. CALL on all political parties, whether government or opposition, to commit themselves to give full support to the national objective of creating a new culture of integrity in political life and public service with zero tolerance for corruption, and as a first step, the amendment of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1997 to make it a model legislation for both developed and developing nations by introducing the "sunshine" provision requiring elected representatives to publicly declare their assets, incomes and liabilities and to make unexplained possession of property a corruption offence.
17. EXPRESS grave concern at the whole series of price increases immediately after the 1995 general elections, to the extent that BN is more often associated with "Barang Naik" rather than "Barisan Nasional", whether it be ferry fares, quit rent and assessment rates increases in Penang or electricity or telephone charges or the general rise of prices of essential commodities and goods in the country reducing the purchasing power of the people;
18. CALL for the formation of a Privatisation Watchdog Commission to receive and investigate complaints about privatised entities, whether excessive charges (North-South Expressway toll, IWK levies), poor services (the 10-day Penang Island power breakdown in June 1995, the nation-wide power black-out on August 3, 1996 or the constant power disruptions still going on in Penang and throughout the country despite Tenaga Nasional assurances of improved efficiency) or corrupt practices.
19. DEPLORE the manner the Rent Control Act 1966 had been repealed without taking into consideration the DAP's proposed Charter of Three Principles for tenants of rent-controlled premises, namely:
CALLS on the Penang State Government to request the Federal Government to introduce legislation in Parliament to provide a five-month transition period for the repeal so as to incorporate the above-mentioned three principles, so that the deadline for protection for tenants in pre-war premises is extended till 1.9.2002.
20. DEMAND that the Penang Government and people should live up to the motto "Penang Leads" and set the national precedent by restoring local council elections so as to promote grass-roots democracy which enables the people to be directly responsible for their own local government.