1999 General Election a double referendum: on Mahathirís
18-year premiership and on the failure of Barisan Nasional to improve the
quality of life of the people of Penang, both state and local government
(Penang, Saturday): The 1999 General
Election is a double referendum: firstly, on the 18-year premiership
of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and secondly, on the failure of the
Barisan Nasional to improve the quality of life of the people of Penang,
both state and local government levels.
- 1999 Election Nomination Day
by Lim Kit Siang
I agree with Mahathir when he said on Nov. 10 when announcing his decision
to dissolve Parliament and call for polls that a general election is not
a test of popularity, but it should certainly be a referendum on Mahathirís
18-year premiership - and in particular on his policies and actions
in the past five years after the landslide Barisan Nasional victory in
the 1995 general election.
The Nov. 29 poll is not about the toppling of Mahathir as Prime
Minister, but to provide firm and effective checks and balances against
gross abuses of power which had become very rampant and even personalised
in the past few years as a result of the unhealthy political hegemony of
the Barisan Nasional in Malaysian politics.
Every five years, the Barisan Nasional had been returned to power without
fail with a commanding two-thirds majority, sometimes even with five-sixth
majority as in the 1995 general election. Every time, this popular
mandate is regarded by the Barisan Nasional government as a blank cheque
empowering it to do what it likes, whether it be cronyism, corruption and
nepotism; gross abuses of power as destroying the doctrine of separation
of powers resulting in a multiple crisis of confidence in the judiciary,
Attorney-Generalís Chambers, the Anti-Corruption Agency, the police, the
Election Commission, Bank Negara and other important institutions
of government; violation of human rights or sheer arrogance of power as
in denying 680,000 new voters their right to vote in the tenth general
election just to protect its two-thirds parliamentary majority.
Some of the most recent and blatant examples of the bane of such Barisan
Nasional political hegemony are:
The selective prosecution of Lim Guan Eng, his one-year jail in Kajang
Prison, disqualification as Member of Parliament and disenfranchisement
of his civil rights to stand as a candidate in the current general election.
The media trial, selective prosecution and political persecution
of Anwar Ibrahim.
Government double-standards in refusing to act on Anwarís five police reports
on corruption and abuses of power against the topmost political leaders
in government, who are named and the allegations supported by documentary
proof, while the statutory declaration by former Bank Negara assistant
governor Abdul Murad Khalid making allegations of corruption against Anwar
are regarded as "gospel truth" when they are not backed by one iota
The worsening corruption in Malaysia, slipping further in the latest
Transparency Internationalís 1999 Corruption Perception Index (CPI)
from 29th to 32nd placing among 99 countries.
Utter contempt for Parliament and the taxpayers in dissolving Parliament
in mid-session when there is no constitutional or political crisis - wasting
four weeks of parliamentary meeting and public expenses incurred, making
a charade of the 2000 election budget, allowing Ministers
to avoid accountability after two weeks of debate.
Making the tenth general election the "dirtiest" election in the
nationís history not only by disenfranchising 680,000 young voters and
a snap eight-day campaign period, but purveying lies and falsehoods through
the Barisan-controlled media as well as generating an atmosphere of fear
and insecurity by daily harping on May 13, riots and trouble during the
In this general election, the 9.6 million voters should stop giving
Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional another blank cheque for five years.
Return the Barisan Nasional to power in Parliament on Nov. 29, but this
time, the cheque must be spelt out clearly and specifically that the Barisan
Nasional must introduce political and economic reforms to respond
to the peopleís demands for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
Let the people give a last warning to the Barisan Nasional that unless
it respects the peopleís wishes for political and economic reforms to restore
justice, freedom, democracy and good governance then in the next general
election, whether in 2,004 or 2,005, the people would withdraw its mandate
to Barisan Nasional to rule the country.
As an earnest of the peopleís seriousness in giving a last warning to
the Barisan Nasional, the 9.6 million votes must deny the Barisan Nasional
two-thirds parliamentary majority, end its political hegemony and to let
the Barisan Nasional leaders know that the voters mean business this time!
*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary
Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member
of Parliament for Tanjong