What happened in the last 13 months to transform the gloom and pessimism of MCA and Gerakan 13 months ago to one of euphoria and optimism about their prospects for the next election?
In the April 1995 general elections, the DAP suffered its worst electoral debacle in its 29-year party history, winning only nine parliamentary seats and 11 State Assembly seats. In Penang, DAPís six Parliamentary seats and 14 State Assembly seats were slashed to three Parliamentary and one lone State Assembly win.
The national results of the DAP in the seven general elections contested by the DAP are as follows:
General Parliamentary State
Elections seats won seats won
1974 9 23
1978 16 25
1982 9 12
1986 24 37
1990 20 44
1995 9 11
The 1995 general election result raised the question whether the DAP was on its last leg.
However, in less than five months after the 1995 general election, on Sept. 9, 1995, the people of Bagan created a Richter 3 "political earthquake" where Sdr. Lim Hock Seng, the DAP candidate in the Bagan by-election caused by the untimely death of Sdr. P. Patto, retained the seat with a 11,802-vote majority, which is 100 times the general election majority of 118 votes.
The people of Bagan gave both DAP and democracy in Malaysia a new lease of life.
Twenty months later, on May 17, 1997, the people of Teluk Intan by-election created a Richter 6 "political earthquake" when in a constituency regarded by the Barisan Nasional as a stronghold it could not lose and the DAP could not win, the voters of Teluk Intan responded to the DAP call to "write history, create miracle" and the Barisan Nasionalís 13,968-vote majority in the April 1995 general election was wiped out with the DAP winning instead with a 2,916-vote majority - an awesome turnaround of 16,884 votes.
Compared to the April 1995 general election results, Teluk Intanís turnaround of 16,884 votes was even greater than Baganís turnaround of 11,684 votes in the respective by-elections, which was a mid-term judgment on the Barisan Nasional government in the two years since the 1995 general elections, representing the fundamental demands and aspirations of the people of Malaysia for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
The Barisan Nasional, in particular MCA, Gerakan and MIC, were very worried by the Teluk Intan by-election result, as a total of 27 Barisan Nasional MPs, including five Ministers and four Deputy Ministers would fall in the next general election if there is a Teluk Intan by-election Richter 6 "political earthquake" effect in the next general election.
Among the five Ministers who would be knocked out in next election if there is a Teluk Intan by-election Richter 6 "political earthquake" effect are MCA Ministers Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, Gerakan President Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
Politically, the conditions got worse for the Barisan Nasional, particularly the MCA and Gerakan, in the following year. For instance, on April 1, 1998, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeals by DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng and sentenced him to two 18-month jail terms for trying to defend the honour, womenís rights and human rights of a 15-year-old girl victim of statutory rape and on August 25, 1998 the Federal Court confirmed the convictions and sentences and Guan Eng started his jail sentence in Kajang Prison.
The Lim Guan Eng case created nation-wide shock, anger and outrage for it was illustration of the gross injustice in our system of governance, and the need for the Peopleís Court in the next general election to show their disapproval at Guan Engís incarceration.
But Guan Eng was not the only instance of public disenchantment with the justice, fairness, competence and integrity of the Barisan Nasional government, as it was accompanied by a host of others, like the Nipah virus catastrophe causing the unnecessary death of 105 lives, the destruction of the RM3 billion pig-rearing industry and the unfair and inadequate compensation for over a million pigs destroyed; trigger-happy police which recently claimed another victim when Dr. Tai Eng Teck was killed after three shots to the head and body by a police constable; rampant corruption and gross abuses of power.
These public disenchantments with the Barisan Nasional style of governance should make the MCA and Gerakan very worried about their prospects in the next general election, but what happened in September last year created the conditions which made MCA and Gerakan feel very confident about the next election - the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim from government and UMNO and their political after-effects.
It is not that the Malaysian Chinese did not feel outraged at the injustices and unfairness meted out to Anwar Ibrahim, whether in the arbitrary manner of his sacking from government and UMNO, his arrest and beating by the former Inspector-General of Police within a inch of his life or his persecution and trial.
But the political turmoils resulting from the Anwar affair gave the
MCA and Gerakan hope that they could turn the political situation around
to their favour, by using three "trump cards" to play on the
anxieties and fears of the Malaysian Chinese in the country, namely that
a vote against the Barisan Nasional and in support of the DAP and the Opposition
would result in three catastrophes:
The MCA and Gerakan will only unleash the full fury of these three trump cards in the last few days before polling day, for they cannot allow time for a full debate and examination of these trump cards, which would expose them to be cheap and unscrupulous tactics of fraud and deception. What MCA and Gerakan seek to achieve is to create fear or doubt among the people on the eve of polling day that there could be a possibility that any one or all of these three catastrophic scenarios could happen if they vote for the DAP and the Opposition. In this way, to be on the safe side, the voters would vote for the Barisan Nasional candidate.
The MCA and Gerakan will have a fourth trump card - that the Malaysian Chinese voters must "save" Mahathir.
The DAPís objective in the next election is not to topple the Barisan Nasional government and unseat Mahathir as Prime Minister. Our objective is to deny the Barisan Nasional its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority and in the process destroy the Barisan Nasional political hegemony in the country.
The question of the Malaysian Chinese "saving" Mahathir as Prime Minister therefore does not arise. The Barisan Nasional will continue to form the government after the next election, but we want to ensure that it is a government without two-thirds parliamentary majority.
The Malaysian Chinese voters should not allow themselves to be duped by these MCA and Gerakan trump cards in the next general election, and the best way not to fall victim to them is to look out and expose them whenever they are used - so that the people can see clearly that these "trump cards" are actually fraudulent cards.