I prefer to lose my 10-sen wager with Mahathir as this is the time for the country to focus all its energies on economic recovery rather than politicking for general elections


Media Conference Statement  (2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Barisan Nasional  Secretary-General Datuk Mohamed Rahmat has raised the curtain for the periodic attack of a disease in Malaysia - electionitis  - when he said yesterday that there would be  an early election to seek a fresh mandate for the Barisan Nasional in its bid to press ahead with wide-ranging economic measures to pull the country out of its worst crisis since Merdeka  in 1957.

Although Mohamed Rahmat did not give any date,  he said the polls could be "called any time".

He said: "During economically difficult times, the people have to retain the present government and give it stronger support so that it could tackle increasingly serious external threats."

There is no doubt that the  Barisan Nasional would be returned as the government in the next general elections, whether polls are  held this year or next year.  The question is whether the  people could deny the Barisan Nasional its  two-third majority in Parliament in the next general elections so as to provide a more effective check-and-balance to ensure justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the country.

The Barisan Nasional at present commands five-sixth majority in Parliament, and it is such unprecedented parliamentary majority which is the cause of widespread misgovernance in the country, resulting in the country facing multiple crisis of confidence - including a four-month-long water crisis in a country abundant with rainfall!

Although Mohamad Rahmat claims that during economically difficult times, the people should give stronger support to the to the Barisan Nasional to "tackle increasingly serious external threats",  this is a most fallacious contention as it is the Opposition which should be strengthened so that the government will not be so arrogant and insensitive to the rights, interests and aspirations of Malaysians of all races.

In any event, what does Mohamad mean by "increasingly serious external threats"?  Is he referring to George Soros, an internaltional Jewish conspiracy, the Western powers or the Singapore Government? Is the country going to face a military threat or information warfare?  Or are these scenarios of   "increasingly serious external threats" have still to be  invented by the Barisan Nasionalís Propaganda Department to create a scare atmosphere to benefit the ruling parties in the general elections?

From Mohamedís remarks, it would appear that the next general elections is probably going to be one of the most unclean, unfair and unfree general elections in the countryís history.

I have a 10-sen wager with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as to whether general elections would be held this year.

After Mahathirís TV3ís Malaysia Hari Ini interview in early January, when he acknowledged for the first time that there was an economic crisis in the country and said that economic recovery could take place from six months to a year, I responded with the comment that Mahathir was thinking of the possibility of holding general elections this year.  I said that whether general elections would be held this year or not would depend on Mahathirís assessment as to whether the economic situation in the country had reached its worst, when things can only become better next year (which would mean no general elections this year) or that the worst is still to come (which would make general elections this year very likely).

Mahathir responded in March saying that he is prepared to have a 10-sen wager with me that there would be no general elections in the next six months.

I accepted Mahathirís 10-sen wager, pointing out that I had referred to the whole of this year and not just the six-month span from March to September.

I would prefer to lose my 10-sen wager with Mahathir as this is the time for the country to focus all its energies on economic recovery rather than politicking for general elections - but finally, what will decide the date for the next polls is not my 10-sen wager with Mahathir but his assessment as to whether the worst of the economic crisis is still to come or whether the country has achieved the economic turnaround and  on the way towards economic recovery.

(31/7/98)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong