The candlelight vigil was held for a week from the very first day Guan Eng was imprisoned on August 26th 1998 under two concurrent 18-month jail sentences, and the crowds that gathered every night to show their "Support, Sympathy and Solidarity" with Guan Eng ranged from several scores to a few hundreds of Malaysians.
At that time, there was very little support or understanding from the Malay community.
One year later, when Guan Eng walked out of Kajang Prison, he was welcomed by several thousands of Malaysians, coming from all races, religions, political beliefs, age and gender.
Guan Eng’s year-long incarceration had proved to be a catalyst for the sea change in Malaysian consciousness in the past 12 months, where Malaysians have begun to realise that they share a common goal with like-minded Malaysians in the quest for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance - regardless of race, religion, age or gender.
This new phenomenon in the Malaysian nation-building is something which Barisan Nasional leaders, from the Prime Minister onwards, have failed to understand or grasp.
This is why we have Barisan Nasional leaders making foolish statements like the one made by the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn who said that the MCA would explain to the Kota Melaka electorate that Lim Guan Eng’s jail sentence was his own doing or the statement by the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Abu Zahar Isnin that Malacca MCA members would go to the ground to explain that "Guan Eng’s imprisonment does not affect the entire Chinese community but one individual only".
The Barisan Nasional leaders are not only behind-time, but are lagging behind significant segments of the Malaysian people in Malaysian consciousness and civic-mindedness.
Guan Eng’s case is not one which only affects one individual, one parliamentary constituency, one state or one community. It is a travesty of justice which outrages all justice-loving Malaysians to be found in all communities and throughout the country - and even the whole wide world.
It is most unfortunate and sad that while more and more Malaysians, regardless of race and religion, are coming together in a common endeavour to uphold the standards of justice and fair play in Malaysia, and in the process, breaking down racial and religious barriers and prejudicies to become even more Malaysian-minded and conscious, Barisan Nasional leaders are going against this national current by harping on its traditional tactics of "divide and rule" to keep the different races and religions in separate compartments.