DAP is taking  great political risks in co-operating with PAS to achieve a  paradigm shift  in Malaysian politics in the next election  to  break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by denying and ending  its unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority

- Penang DAP forum on "Peopleís Election Appeal"
Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday):  Many DAP supporters have warned that the DAP is taking too great a  political risk in co-operating with PAS in  the coming general election, and there are even traditional DAP voters who had consistently given their vote to the DAP in every general election in the past who have said that they would not vote the Rocket  this time because of DAPís co-operation with PAS although they will not vote for the Barisan Nasional.

DAPís co-operation with PAS is one of the "trump cards" which the Barisan Nasional, and in particular MCA and Gerakan, are using to influence and mislead the voters to reject DAP and vote Barisan Nasional, on the ground that the DAP had compromised our principle and stand for a secular state and that I have become an agent of Nik Aziz and a spokesman of PAS for the establishment of an Islamic State.

If DAP is a selfish political party, concerned only with what is best for the DAP, there is a very strong case for the DAP to go it alone and not enter into an understanding with the other Opposition parties in the coming election.

Although the DAP suffered our worst electoral defeat in the 1995 general election, securing only nine parliamentary and eleven state assembly seats as compared to the previous 20 Parliamentary and 44 State Assembly seats, the DAP results in the Bagan and Teluk Intan by-elections show that the DAPís prospects in the next general election are good, with the chance of DAP achieving our best electoral result in party history.

In the Bagan by-election on Sept. 9, 1995,  DAP not only retained the seat, but won with a thumping 11,802-vote majority which was 100 times the 118-vote majority DAP secured in the general election less than five months earlier.

Twenty months later, on May 17, 1997, DAP created another political earthquake in the Teluk Intan by-election.  Teluk Intan was an invincible Barisan Nasional seat - a seat which Barisan Nasional leaders were convinced that the Barisan could not lose and the DAP could not win. In the 1995 general election, the Gerakan candidate romped home with a majority of 13,968 votes.

However, in the by-election, the people of Teluk Intan rose to the DAPís call to "write history, create miracle" to send a clear message to the Barisan Nasional government, and the DAP not only wiped out the 13,968-vote majority of the Barisan, but won with a 2,916-vote majority - a stunning turnaround of 16,884 votes.

If the Teluk Intan by-election "wind" blows throughout the country in the next general election, at least  27 Barisan Nasional MPs, including five Ministers and four Deputy Ministers will fall, and these five Ministers are MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, the MIC President and Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, the Housing Minister Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh and the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng.

The Barisan Nasional leaders, particularly from MCA and Gerakan, had cause to be very worried about their partyís election prospects, especially as the ensuing months created even greater public outrage and alienation, whether at the gross injustice of the Lim Guan Eng case; the government incompetence and negligence in the mishandling of the Nipah virus calamity causing 105 unnecessary and avoidable deaths, ruin of the RM3 billion pig-rearing industry as well as the refusal of the government to give fair compensation to the one million pigs destroyed; the abuses of power, lack of accountability and transparency whether in the police trigger-happy killing of the innocent, misuse of public funds for the bail-out of selected banks and companies, and most notably of all, the Anwar Ibrahim case.

There is no doubt that until 13 months ago in August last year, MCA and Gerakan leaders were very worried - for they expected to be taught a very harsh lesson by the electorate in the next election.

Today, however, MCA and Gerakan leaders are brimming with confidence, and Liong Sik could even publicly declare in Bukit Mertajam last month that 99 per cent of the Chinese would vote for the Barisan Nasional in the next election!

What happened in the past 13 months to create such a dramatic reversal of the expectations  of the MCA and Gerakan leaders about their prospects in the next election?

Paradoxically, it is because of the Anwar phenomenon which has fuelled a groundswell of political awakening in the country, and most significantly in the Malay society,  of the need for political change to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.

The subsequent political developments, including the opposition co-operation of DAP, PAS, Keadilan and PRM, gave the Barisan Nasional, and in particular the MCA and Gerakan, the opportunity to use four "trump cards" to influence, mislead and even panic the Chinese voters to support the Barisan Nasional.

The Islamic State is probably the most potent of these four MCA/Gerakan "trump cards" - the other three being the threat of May 13 and racial unrest;  the end of economic recovery, development and prosperity; and the need to save Mahathir in the next general election.

If a general election is free, fair and clean, the DAPís co-operation with PAS should not become a major issue, for the following reasons:

But general elections in Malaysia are not free, fair and clean; and what is worse, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has already served notice that the next election will be the "dirtiest" in history.

Bearing in mind the 1990 general election dirty election scam where Malay voters were convinced at least on polling day that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, who was then President of Semangat 46, had sold out  the Malay race and betrayed Islam on the spurious ground that he had worn a Kadazan tengkolok bearing a Christian cross, the MCA and Gerakan would be doing their utmost to exploit  their top "trump card"  to mislead the people into believing that the DAP had teamed up with PAS to bring about an Islamic state.

If the people fall for the  MCA and Gerakanís "trump cards", as believing that the DAP is now supporting the Islamic state objective of PAS, the DAP will not only fail to achieve the best electoral result in the partyís 33-year history, the DAP may suffer an even worse defeat than in the 1995 general election.

DAP standing on its own, based on the Bagan and Teluk Intan by-election results and the subsequent political scenario, the DAP has hopes of winning 20 to 25 parliamentary seats.

In co-operating with PAS, Keadilan and PRM, the optimum results the DAP can look forward to is 25-30 parliamentary seats.

If the DAP is unable to defuse and demolish the four "trump cards" of the MCA and Gerakan, then the DAP may end up worse off than in 1995 - less than nine parliamentary seats!

Why then is the DAP taking on such great political risks with so  little extra political gain? Why hope to win another five parliamentary seats if this involves the risk of doing worse than the 1995 general election result, or even being wiped out altogether?

If DAP is only interested in our own selfish party interests, the DAP will probably go it alone.  But the DAP is prepared to take great political risks in co-operating with PAS and other Opposition parties  to achieve a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics in the next election, to break the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by denying and ending the Barisanís unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority in the past 42 years.

In the present political scenario, no single opposition party can break the Barisan political hegemony and deny its two-thirds parliamentary majority, not   DAP, PAS or Keadilan.

It is only when all the Opposition parties work together in an united front that the possibility of breaking the Barisan Nasional political hegemony  by ending its two-thirds parliamentary majority becomes distinct and achievable.

The breaking of the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and the ending of its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority will create a new political culture to allow the restoration of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance - providing the basis for all Malaysians, regardless of race or religion, to come together to create  a new Malaysia.

Most important of all,  the ending of the Barisan Nasionalís unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority would serve as a notice by the voters of Malaysia that if there is no change for the better in the Barisan Nasional system of governance, then in the subsequent general election, whether in 2,004 or 2,005, they reserve the right to vote the Barisan Nasional out of power.


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