(Penang, Friday): It is most irresponsible, mischievous and unpatriotic on the part of the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and the Gerakan to try to turn the Sungai Bakap by-election into a vote of confidence in Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister - especially in forcing Mahathir into a "no-win" situation, as Barisan Nasional's 5327-vote majority in the constituency in the 1995 general elections is bound to be reduced in the by-election although the Gerakan would retain the seat.
The voters of Sungai Bakap must be most surprised that the Gerakan leaders are suddenly telling them that the entire future of Mahathir as Prime Minister is now in their hands - that it is now up to the people of Sungai Bakap to save Mahathir as Prime Minister of Malaysia.
I do not think any sensible person would believe such political nonsense, that a vote for Gerakan is a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister while a vote for the DAP is a vote wanting Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister.
In Parliament, for instance, DAP MPs have spoken and voted against specific government proposals and bills, but that does not mean that we want Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister.
This is why in my speech in Parliament last Monday during the debate on the 1998 budget, I could criticise Mahathir for the mistakes he had made in handling the twin economic and stock market crisis, and yet declare full support for Mahathir if there is any international conspiracy involving any foreign power seeking to unseat him as Prime Minister, as it must be Malaysians themselves who must decide whether Mahathir continue as Prime Minister.
DAP MPs, for instance, can only be said to want Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister if in a Parliamentary motion on a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister, we voted against the motion expressing our lack of confidence in Mahathir.
However, there had not been any Parliamentary motion on a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister, although I had suggested this if the Barisan Nasional leaders think there is a real problem as to whether Mahathir commands the confidence of the majority of Malaysians.
The Barisan Nasional commands nearly nine-tenth majority of the seats in the present Parliament and there should be no problem whatsoever for such a motion of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister to be passed with overwhelming support.
Similarly, it is nonsensical to claim that voters who voted for the Opposition in general elections or by-elections want Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister when all they want is to exercise their democratic constitutional right to let the Barisan Nasional Government know about their unhappiness, discontents, frustrations and disappointments over certain government policies or measures.
Unless, the Opposition had made confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister the key or the sole issue in the by-election, which the DAP has not done in Sungai Bakap - in fact, we have been at pains to declare again and again that the Sungai Bakap is not a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister to decide whether he should continue or step down as Prime Minister.
Strangely enough, it is Keng Yaik and the Gerakan which are insisting that the key issue in the Sungai Bakap by-election is a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister - as if they have suddenly become politically bankrupt!
I believe Keng Yaik and Gerakan have underestimated the political intelligence of the people of Sungai Bakap, thinking they could "psycho" them into thinking that the by-election is a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister, that the future of Mahathir as Prime Minister is now solely in the hands of the people of Sungai Bakap who must save Mahathir; and therefore a vote for Gerakan is a vote for Mahathir to continue as Prime Minister while a vote for DAP is a vote wanting Mahathir to resign as Prime Minister.
I call on the voters of Sungai Bakap to give Keng Yaik and Gerakan a free lesson in politics - that the people are not so gullible as to believe the political nonsense that the by-election is to decide the future of Mahathir as Prime Minister.
Let the voters of Sungai Bakap send out a clear message that they do not buy such political nonsense and that national political leaders even though veteran Cabinet Ministers should not think that the people are so politically naive as to swallow any rubbish they choose to spout!
The Sungai Bakap by-election is not a vote of confidence in Mahathir as Prime Minister. However, it is definitely a leadership test for Keng Yaik as Gerakan President.
Keng Yaik knows that his political future is at stake in the Sungai Bakap by-election, after losing the Teluk Intan parliamentary constituency - which was regarded as a Gerakan fortress, where it was unthinkable for the Gerakan to lose and equally unthinkable for the DAP to win.
Should the Gerakan do badly in Sungai Bakap by-election, the days for Keng Yaik as Gerakan President will be numbered, as he would be leading Gerakan towards its worst days in Gerakan history, and he would be ending his political career under a cloud.
There is no need for Gerakan to lose Sungai Bakap for it to lose badly in the by-election. I had said that a DAP victory in Sungai Bakap would be equivalent to a Richter 7 political earthquake. However, I do not expect a Richter 7 political earthquake to happen on Nov. 8.
However, I do not rule out - although the possibility is very slim - of a Richter 6 political earthquake - like the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election result in May this year.
The voters of Sungai Bakap would have created a Richter 6 political earthquake if the Barisan Nasional majority is slashed to below 500 votes in the by-election.
If the voters of Sungai Bakap can reduce the Barisan Nasional majority to below 500 votes, then they can stand as tall as the voters of Bagan who on Sept. 9, 1995, returned the historic result of a DAP majority which was 100 times the majority four months earlier in general elections, where Lim Hock Seng's winning majority was 11,802 votes as compared to the previous 118-vote majority by the late P. Patto.
They can also stand as tall as the voters of Teluk Intan who responded to the DAP call to "write history, create miracle" on 17th May 1997 when the Barisan Nasional's 13,968-vote majority in the April 1995 general elections was wiped out with the DAP winning instead with a 2,916-vote majority - an awesome turnaround of 16,884 votes - and voted in M. Kulasegaran as DAP MP for Teluk Intan.
The voters of Sungai Bakap would be "writing history, creating miracle" if they could slash the Barisan Nasional majority in the by-election to below 500 votes.
Of course, the people Sungai Bakap can stand even taller than the people of Bagan and the people of Teluk Intan if they create a Richter 7 political earthquake and Goh Kheng Huat could be elected State Assemblyman for Sungai Bakap as the first step in the long hard road to restore democracy in the Penang State Assembly - but I am not expecting such a result.
Keng Yaik knows that it is not Mahathir, but he himself, who is facing a vote of confidence, and this is why he wants to protect himself by dragging Mahathir into the forefront - trying to coerce the Sungai Bakap voters to vote Gerakan purportedly on the ground that they would be deciding the future of Mahathir as Prime Minister!
I have a lot of political differences with Mahathir, but I think it is wrong, shameful and unpatriotic for Barisan Nasional leaders like Keng Yaik to use Mahathir to protect themselves, heedless of the damage such dishonourable political ploy can cause to the international standing and credibility of Mahathir as well as Malaysia.