(Bentong, Sunday): Earlier this week, the MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik talked nonsense when he said in Kota Bahru that I had said in Parliament that in the next general elections, the Opposition can win 90 parliamentary seats and topple the Barisan Nasional government.
In the first place, I had never made any forecast about the Opposition winning 90 seats in the next general elections. Secondly, Liong Sik is twelve years behind time when winning 90 Parliamentary seats is enough majority to form the government, but not now, when the total number of Parliamentary seats is 193.
However, what is noteworthy about Liong Sik’s Kota Bahru statement is that it is a reflection of how jittery Barisan Nasional leaders feel about their prospects in the next general elections.
From the results of the Bagan, Teluk Intan and Arau parliamentary by-elections after the 1995 general elections, Barisan Nasional leaders know that they are in trouble as far as the next general election is concerned, for public confidence in the Barisan Nasional government and policies had undergone great erosion in the past three years.
Until early September, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was seriously considering the option of holding early general elections, even when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was summarily sacked from government and drummed out of UMNO - as UMNO history has shown that no UMNO leader has another political life outside UMNO.
Anwar, however, refused to be eliminated politically, and in the events leading to his arrest under the Internal Security Act and being charged in court and after, Anwar has demonstrated he is a major political factor which Mahathir must reckon with - which means I would be losing the ten sen wager with Mahathir as to the holding of general elections this year.
UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders had hoped that the trial of Anwar which started last Monday would finally finish off Anwar politically, but the proceedings of the first week of Anwar’s trial, in particular the testimony of the Special Branch director, is producing an opposite political effect!
The nation-wide political ferment and demand for change to ensure that there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia pre-dated Anwar’s sacking from government and UMNO - and even if Anwar had remained as Deputy Prime Minister and the No. 2 in Barisan Nasional, it is unlikely that he would be able to stem the tidal political wave in the next general elections which might sweep away the Barisan Nasional’s traditional two-third parliamentary majority.
The manifest injustice in the handling of the Anwar case has triggered off a political sea-change in Malay society, adding greater depth and velocity to the ferment for change, and we are seeing the emergence of a new political generation which is not prepared to take lying down arbitrary abuses of executive power.
The political sea-change in Malay society wrought by the Anwar phenomenon has made the possibility of denying the Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in the next general elections even more real and likely.
I want to make it very clear that I am talking about removing the two-third parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional in the next general elections, of the Opposition winning 65 to 75 seats, and that I had never talked about the Opposition winning the majority of some 100 seats in the next elections to topple the Barisan Nasional government.
In Malaysia, the removal of the Barisan Nasional’s traditional parliamentary two-thirds majority would have cataclysmic consequences, raising for instance issues like the legitimacy of Mahathir continuing as Prime Minister in the face of such an electoral rout and a major realignment of forces in the ruling coalition.
If there is a great tidal wave for change, then Pahang DAP can look forward to a new breakthrough in the state in the next general elections, both at the Parliamentary and State Assembly level.