Barisan Alternative challenges Barisan Nasional to make a mutual compact to ensure that  the general election is  the "cleanest" rather than the "dirtiest" in the nationís history

Barisan Alternative Leadersí Meeting
Lim Kit Siang 

(Kuala Lumpur,  Saturday):  There are six factors which will make the 1999 general election the "dirtiest" in the nationís history, as forewarned by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad a few months ago.

The Election Commission was responsible for the  first two factors.
New Zealanders will go to polls two days earlier than Malaysians on November 27, but they could enrol as voters as late as Nov. 26 to be able to vote on Nov. 27.  This is a great shame to the Election Commission in Malaysia which had  disenfranchised 650,000 new voters although they had registered six months ago in April/May this year.  The 650,000 disenfranchised voters should come forward to organise themselves to  support the Barisan Alternative to teach the Barisan Nasional a lesson in democracy!

Secondly, with  nomination on Nov. 20 and polling on Nov. 29, the effective campaign period is eight days.  This  makes the 1999 general election the shortest and the most undemocratic in the nationís election history, sharing the dubious honour with the 1986 general election.  The eight-day snap general election gives the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition grossly  unfair advantage, rendering the 1999 general election devoid of the attributes of being  "free, fair and clean".

The third factor is the timing of the general election, holding it during the rainy season which had always been  avoided by responsible Prime Ministers in the past.  The meteorological services department had warned that the 10th general election would be a very wet one, with heavy rain forecast for the west coast and northern states until November 20, with "rain or thunderstorms, occasionally heavy, is expected over 40% to 60% of these states, including Johor and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur in the late afternoon, dusk and early at night ÖÖIn Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu, occasional rain or thunderstorms are expected over 20% to 50% of the area". I believe the same situation will not only persist from Nomination to Polling Day, there is a possibility that it could get worse with serious floods all over the country!

 In supporting the short campaign period, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy
Vellu  said the Election Commission had made a wise decision after  considering various factors such as the fasting month and weather conditions.

Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders have a most peculiar and extraordinary mind-set, as the rainy season should argue for a longer campaign period as it would  hamper  the Opposition from reaching out to the voters through ceramahs or house-to-house visits after being shut off from the Barisan Nasional-controlled mass media.

The other three factors which will make the tenth general election the "dirtiest" in the nationís history are the Barisan Nasionalís monopoly of the 3Ms - money, mass media and government machinery which would be abused to serve the Barisan Nasionalís political ends.

The Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Omar Hashim yesterday  asked the print and electronic media to give fair coverage and equal  opportunity to all political parties contesting in the 10th general election as  "this would be in line with the  principles of democracy practised in the country".

This is an empty call, for it is clear that the Election Commission is not  prepared to discharge its Constitutional  responsibility to conduct free and fair elections by supervising and ensuring fair mass media coverage in the general election.

Several mass media have blatantly shown their bias and venom against the Opposition once Parliament was dissolved, blacking out Opposition news and reporting lies and falsehoods against the Opposition.

There should be an independent Media Watch set up by  justice-loving Malaysians to provide a daily monitor of the mass media coverage during the general election and give a daily expose of  how certain  mass media had violated all canons of journalistic ethics and principles of fairness in their daily barrages against the Opposition.

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Thursday that political parties should not turn the general election into a "hate campaign" in their effort to win votes.  I fully agree and endorse his statement that we must do away with the "politics of hatred" in Malaysia.

But is he and the Barisan Nasional prepared to equally agree with the Barisan Alternative that we should also do away with the "politics of fear", as threatening the voters that if the Barisan Nasional is not returned with a two-thirds parliamentary majority, there would be another May 13 and that the Malaysian economy would go down in ruins?

The Barisan Alternative challenges the Barisan Nasional to make a mutual compact - to ensure that the 10th general election is the "cleanest" and not the "dirtiest" general election in history, by taking the following initial measures:

For a start, let all political parties and leaders forsake the politics of hatred and the politics of fear, and let us all agree that the term "May 13" be banned from the vocabulary of electioneering for the entire 10th general election campaign until November 29, 1999.

Secondly, let all Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative leaders and supporters make a solemn commitment to peacefully and democratically accept the verdict of the people in the ballot box on November 29, whatever the outcome.

Thirdly, let Barisan Nasional and Barisan Alternative set up a high-powered council to ensure that the 10th general election is the "cleanest" rather than the "dirtiest" in the nationís history, making it completely "trouble free".

The Barisan Alternative is prepared to be fully committed in words and deeds to the peace, harmony and welfare of the people and nation.  Is the Barisan Nasional prepared to be equally loyal and patriotic to the Malaysian people and nation?


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