(Penang, Thursday): I challenge Gerakan President and the Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik to a public debate three days before the by-election polling on Nov. 8 whether the Gerakan was doing Malaysia and Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad a service or a disservice in turning the Sungai Bakap by-election into a single-issue vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister.
The public debate, which should be in Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin and English, should be held latest by Nov. 5, preferably in the Sungai Bakap constituency but it could be held elsewhere in Penang, even in Komtar.
Keng Yaik and the Gerakan may be quite nervous about the Sungai Bakap by-election - although I do not see why as it had always been an impregnable Gerakan stronghold - but it is the height of irresponsibility on his part and that of Gerakan to turn the Sungai Bakap by-election into a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister.
This was the reason why Keng Yaik had asked the DAP not to contest in Sungai Bakap to prove that the DAP was sincere and serious in its support for Mahathir if there is any international conspiracy involving foreign countries, whether the United States or any Western nation, trying to force Mahathir to step down as Prime Minister. Although the DAP is an opposition party, we can stand on a united platform with the Barisan Nasional to oppose any foreign interference in the domestic politics in Malaysia as it is Malaysians themselves and not any foreign powers who must decide whether Mahathir should continue as Prime Minister.
This was also why at the Sungai Bakap nomination yesterday, the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon played the "Mahathir card" when he called on the Sungai Bakap voters to vote Barisan Nasional to show their support for Mahathir!
Let me advise Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon that in trying to play the "Mahathir card" in the Sungai Bakap by-election and turning it into a vote of confidence for Mahathir, they are being most irresponsible and unfair, both to Malaysia and Mahathir. In fact, they are not showing their love for Mahathir and are acting in a most unpatriotic manner, for they are prepared to undermine the international standing of Mahathir and Malaysia just for the sake of getting votes for the Gerakan candidate in the Sungai Bakap state assembly by-election.
Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon can only turn the Sungai Bakap by-election into a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister if they are absolutely confident and sure that on Nov. 8, Gerakan is not only going to win in the by-election, but win with an even bigger majority than before.
However, Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon should know that although Gerakan is going to win in the Sungai Bakap by-election, the Gerakan majority of 5,327 votes in the 1995 general elections is going to be reduced.
This would be most unfortunate, both for the international standing of Mahathir and Malaysia, as the world would see a reduced Gerakan majority in the Sungai Bakap by-election result as proof that Mahathir had lost an important vote of confidence in his own country.
If Keng Yaik and Tsu Koon really love Mahathir and Malaysia, they should not put Mahathir and Malaysia in such a "no-win" situation. They should see the error of their trying to play the "Mahathir card" in the Sungai Bakap by-election by turning it into a single-issue vote of confidence on Mahathir as Prime Minister, publicly admit and apologise for their mistake and drop such "Mahathir card" as their "ace" by-election strategy altogether.