In fact, by the first two days of the snap eight-day election campaign, the present general election had already become the "dirtiest" in the nationís history - with the disenfranchisement of 680,000 new voters, the fixing of a snap eight-day campaign period, phantom votes, one-sided media coverage and the barrage of Barisan Nasional political advertisements of "fear and scare" in the newspapers, radio and television.
Since then, every day of the election campaign has seen the 1999 general election getting dirtier and dirtier with the Barisan Nasional "dirty tricks" department working full-time to plumb new depths of dirty electoral tricks - whether in its daily political advertisements over radio, television and the newspapers to malign and defame Opposition leaders or its campaign to slant, distort and even concoct news report about the Opposition.
One of the "coups" of the Barisan Nasional "dirty tricks" department was to be the "killer" announcement by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) pledging full support to Barisan Nasional by endorsing the fraudulent propaganda line of MCA, Gerakan and MIC that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and Islamic State.
The Council pledge to support the Barisan Nasional was made by the Councilís general secretary R. Thiagaraja and was given full backing by the Council President, A. Vaithilingam, who even wanted the DAP to break from the Barisan Alternative. The Sun of Nov. 25, 1999 reported Thiagaraja as saying that the Council had "unanimously resolved to support the BN after careful consideration of the recent political developments in the country".
Yesterday, the DAP requested an urgent meeting with the MCCBCHS as we want to know when it took the decision to pledge its support for the Barisan Nasional, who were the representatives of the various religions represented at the meeting which took the fateful decision and why such a decision was taken without consultation with the Barisan Alternative parties or at least with the DAP when we had worked closely in the past to defend and uphold the constitutional freedom of religion in Malaysia.
Later in the day, the Council Vice President Bishop Datuk Dr Lim Cheng Ean and Council Committee Member Bishop Anthony Selvanayagam issued a joint statement regretting Thiagarajaís statement as "not correct".
They said: "There has been no agreement among the religious groups represented in the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) to endorse any political party or Coalition in the forthcoming elections."
The MCCBCHS had not met at all to discuss the issue of the Councilís pledge to support the Barisan Nasional before Thiagaraja and Vaithilingamís statements.
I am most shocked that the President and the General Secretary of the MCCBCHS could tell a lie, claiming that the various religious groups represented in the MCCBCHS had "unanimously" decided to support the Barisan Nasional "after careful consideration of the recent political developments in the country".
Thiagaraja and Vaithilingam had done a great disservice to the non-Muslim religions in Malaysia in hijacking the name of the Council to give support to Barisan Nasional but they have brought the non-Muslim religions into disrepute when they could tell untruths in their capacity as leaders of non-Muslim religions in the country!
Thiagaraja and Vathilingam should declare their political credentials, whether they are members of the Barisan Nasional component parties, and what political agendas are they serving in their acts of political dishonesty and duplicity.
The Barisan Nasional "dirty tricks" department must have hoped that their coup of purported MCCBCHS support for Barisan Nasional would have the same "killer" effect as the Kadazan tengkolok scam of the Barisan Nasional in the last few days of the 1990 general election campaign, when Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, then Semangat 46 President, was attacked as having sold out the Malay race and betrayed the Islamic religion for purportedly wearing a Christian cross on his Kadazan tengkolok.
Its game-plan must be to saturate the air waves, television time and newspaper space in the last two days of the campaign with the MCCBCHSís purported support for Barisan Nasional to convince non-Malay and non-Muslim Malaysians that the DAP had betrayed them as stated by MCA, Gerakan and MIC and is now supporting PAS and its Islamic state objective.
By the time Malaysians realised that they had been duped, that MCCBCHS had never met and resolved to pledge support for the Barisan Nasional, the damage had been done, as votes would have been cast - just like the Tengku Razaleigh Kadazan tengkolok scam, when it was too late for the Malays to realise that it was a most dirty election trick as votes had already been cast against Semangat 46.
The 1999 general election is one where the Malaysian press will forever hold their heads in shame at the most unbelievably unethical and irresponsible journalism.
There is a deliberate policy to distort and concoct news reports about the Opposition, so that they could be used as ammunition by the Barisan Nasional leaders to attack the Barisan Alternative leaders although the original news reports were pure lies and falsehood.
A good example is the Utusan Malaysia front-page report on Thursday quoting DAP Deputy Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng as saying that DAP would abolish Malay special rights if the Barisan Alternative wins the general election.
Although Guan Eng immediately lodged a police report against Utusan Malaysia for false news, as he had never made such a statement, UMNO leaders like Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and UMNO Youth leader, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein disregarded such a denial and police report and continued to treat the Utusan Malaysiaís false news as gospel truth so that they could continue to attack the DAP.
There are many other such instances in this election campaign, where newspapers do not report but create false news, even distorting quotations of Opposition leaders, which are then used by UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders to launch baseless attacks against the Opposition. The worst culprit in this new type of "dirtiest" form of journalism is undoubtedly Utusan Malaysia!
This morning, I received a call from a DAP veteran, Sdr. Lee Kaw, former DAP Kluang Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman. He said he could not sleep for the whole night as he was so upset by a Star report yesterday which gave the impression that he was attacking the DAP for its selection of candidates.
Lee Kaw said he had never made such statements, as he was approached to talk about his political experiences, and his family and friends were equally upset at the news report which came out in the central and southern editions of Star yesterday.
I comforted Lee Kaw that he was merely the latest victim of a most vicious and irresponsible press in the election campaign.
In this general election, the Barisan Nasionalís unlimited use of money
politics is another cause of its being the "dirtiest" in the nationís history.
I call on the Police to investigate the funding of the Barisan Nasional election campaign as to how it could spend RM50 million in eight days just for its "fear and scare" political advertising on radio, television and newspapers and RM500 million for the whole campaign.
The Barisan Nasional believes that it could use the three Ms - money politics, its monopoly of the mass media and misuse of government machinery - to spread fear and scare and steal the general election on Nov. 29 from the 9.6 million voters where they cannot freely and fairly exercise their right to vote.
It is up to the voters to prove the Barisan Nasional wrong on Monday.