I am not desperate but  I feel very sad and even ashamed that 42 years after nationhood and  so much chest-thumping about "Malaysia Boleh",  we have to directly involve foreign leaders in our  own election campaign


Media Conference Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday):  Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar said it could only be out of desperation that I accused the Government of using Chinese premier Zhu Rongji's visit to Malaysia scheduled from Nov. 23-25 to drum up support for the Barisan Nasional for the general election.

He said the Barisan Nasional government did not need to rely on foreign help to win the elections and that Zhu's visit was planned several months ago.


MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said that when Zhu's visit was decided, no one knew then that a general election would be held.

Liong Sik may or may not be right, for he could speak for himself but definitely not for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.

In any event, the point at issue is that when Mahathir decided to dissolve Parliament in mid-session, wasting four weeks'  of parliamentary meetings and the public expenses involved, he knew of Zhu's scheduled visit to Malaysia on Nov. 23-25 and that it would fall during the snap general election campaign period.

If Filipino President Estrada or former president Cory Aquino should visit Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail during the election campaign period, what would be the reaction of the Barisan Nasional leaders, including Hamid Albar and Ling Liong Sik?

Syed Hamid's claim that the Barisan Nasional did not need to rely on foreign help to win the election is not supported by deeds, for it is an incontrovertible fact that at the end of September, Mahathir went to the American Council of Foreign Relations in New York to plead for  foreign support for the ruling political parties in the Barisan Nasional as against the Barisan Alternative.

Is Hamid Albar prepared to give a report on how successful had been Mahathir's plea to the foreign powers, governments and institutions and to disclose how much foreign funds the Barisan Nasional has received from foreign sources to finance its general election campaign and to make the tenth general election the "dirtiest" in the nationís history?

In the 1974 general election, the Barisan Nasional played the Chinese card of Tun Razak's visit and hand-shake with Mao Tse Tung.  On its 25h anniversary, the Barisan  Nasional has again to play the Chinese card not by using the photographs of Mahathir's visit and handshake with Chinese leaders but by timing the general election to coincide with Zhu Rongji's visit to Malaysia.

This is the first time in ten general elections in 42 years that a foreign leader will be involved, directly or indirectly, in one of the most important and sensitive exercises of independent nationhood and national sovereignty - for Malaysians to elect the leaders of their choice without any interference whatsoever from foreigners.

Can Hamid Albar or Liong Sik give a single instance in the previous nine general elections where foreign leaders had visited Malaysia in the midst of election campaign to help to swing votes to the Barisan Nasional?

Let me state that I am not desperate when I express my concern yesterday at the gross impropriety of involving a foreign leader, directly or indirectly, in the tenth general election. But I feel very sad and even ashamed that 42 years after nationhood and so much chest-thumping about "Malaysia Boleh" we have to directly involve foreign leaders in our own election campaign.
 
I do not feel  any sense of desperation in  approaching the Nov. 29 polls  although the DAP may achieve  unprecedented victory of 25-35 seats or suffer unprecedented loss as to be wiped out from Malaysian politics.

This is my eight general election, having been elected as Member of Parliament for over 30 years.  What is important to me in this general election is not so much my electoral prospect or even that of the DAP, but whether the 9.6 million Malaysian voters can make full use of the golden political opportunity for the first time in the 42-year history of the nation to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony, end its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority and lay the basis for the establishment of a new Malaysia in the new millennium by restoring justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.

May be, Hamid gained the impression that I am getting "desperate" from the one-sided, biased and unfair reporting in the Barisan Nasional-controlled mass media, which are even twisting and distorting agency reports to put the DAP and the Barisan Alternative in the worst possible light.

Utusan Malaysia for instance today carried a front page report under the heading "DAP mulai bimbang kerjasama makan diri", which reported:
 

I have referred to the Reuters report by its reporter Jahabar Sadiq under the heading "Malaysian opposition realistic on polls", and I am surprised that the Utusan Malaysia can be dishonest as to twist and slant a report which is so straightforward.

The quote in the third  paragraph had been distorted, which is something anathema to responsible journalism where facts are sacred while opinions are free.

This is the quotation used by Reuters on my interview with the news agency: 
 

which is completely different from the distorted quotation in Utusan Malaysia:
 

No responsible journalist or newspaper would have ever thought of distorting  a quotation, and this must be the first time that such dishonest journalism has occurred in this general election, which appears set to be the "dirtiest" general election in the nationís history.  Johardy Ibrahim and the Utusan Malaysia should explain how they could distort a quotation and publicly apologise for such a journalistic sin.

The second and fourth paragraphs in the Utusan Malaysia report are also  distortions of the Reuters story.

The question of "DAP mulai bimbang kerjasama makan diri" as appeared in the Utusan Malaysia headline  does not arise, as the DAP leadership had been very conscious from the very beginning that the coming general election is a  "do or die" battle for the DAP as well as for democracy and justice in Malaysia.

Fighting on our own, without being   part of Barisann Alternative,  DAP can confidently look forward to winning 20 to 25 parliamentary seats as the Barisan Nasional would not be able to use the four "trump cards" of an Islamic state;  another May 13;   no economic recovery, development and prosperity; the toppling of Mahathir as Prime Minister to confuse, scare  and mislead the voters.

In teaming up with PAS, KeADILan and PRM to form Barisan Alternative, the best results the DAP can look forward to is  30 to 35 seats but DAP  also incurs the high political risks of suffering the worst electoral results in party history, faring even worse than the 1995 general election result of nine parliamentary and eleven state assembly seats, if the Barisan Nasional succeeds in their  use of the four "trump cards".

But DAP has decided to subordinate party interests to the higher national interest of a political breakthrough to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance to establish a new Malaysia by breaking the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and ending its two-thirds parliamentary majority.

What all Malaysians should focus on in the general election is whether Barisan Alternative can win 70-75 parliamentary seats, with  DAP,  PAS and Keadilan each winning about  25 seats to achieve the great political breakthrough of ending the Barisanís political hegemony and two-thirds majority.

(16/11/99)


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