I am very touched by the people of Bukit Bendera/Kebun Bunga, the Penang state and the Malaysian nation regardless of race, religion, gender or age (including 12-year-olds) who had by their avalanche of emails, faxes, letters and phone calls, expressed support and encouragement to me to keep on the fight for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
If the Chinese had not succumbed to the MCA/Gerakanís politics of fear and falsehoods in making them believe that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State - and that they would not be able to eat pork, take alcohol and go to temples - the opposition benches in Parliament would be filled by not only a stronger PAS, but also a stronger DAP, a stronger Keadilan and with MPs from PRM - laying the basis for a new Malaysian politics less dominated by race and religion but by issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
This is because the Barisan Nasional would then have to respond to the political challenge of a multi-ethnic and multi-religious opposition front instead of at present, where the sole concern of UMNO for the next five years is how to beat off the political challenge of PAS by a spiral of Islamisation and Malayisation policies - without having to bother about the political challenge from DAP.
My personal defeat and setback is a secondary issue. What is of the greatest concern is the far-reaching political repercussions of the 1999 general election result.
Malaysians have not only lost a golden political opportunity to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony by denying its two-thirds parliamentary majority, but set the nation on a very uncertain and perilous future with the marginalisation of DAP in Parliament and Malaysian politics.
By conducting the dirtiest general election in the nationís history, starting with the disenfranchisement of 680,000 new voters, the Barisan Nasional had robbed Malaysians of the historic opportunity for a political and nation-building breakthrough.
Instead, we have now the new bi-polar Parliament where both poles of power are Muslim-based, with on the one side an opposition dominated by PAS, whose ideology is Islamic, and on the other, a ruling Barisan Nasional dominated by UMNO, whose ideology is racial.
Barisan Nasionalís defeat on Monday was basically UMNOís defeat, as UMNO lost 16 Parliamentary and 55 State Assembly seats as compared to 1995, losing the two state governments of Kelantan and Trengganu and nearly losing another two other states, Perlis and Kedah.
The danger of the historic electoral setback for UMNO in the 1999 general election and the emergence of PAS as the dominant Opposition in Parliament with 27 seats and a very marginalised DAP with ten seats is that Parliament in the next five years will principally become the battleground between UMNO and PAS for the hearts and minds of the Malays in the Malay heartland, resulting in a spiral of Islamisation and Malay-isation policies - threatening not only a democratic secular Malaysia but even Vision 2020 and the concept of Bangsa Malaysia.
With DAP marginalised in Parliament and in Malaysian politics, can Gerakan, MCA and MIC stop UMNO from lurching towards Islamisation and Malay-isation policies to compete with PAS? If history is any guide, the answer must be in the negative because of the historic and ingrained subservience of MCA, Gerakan and MIC to UMNO hegemony.
The marginalisation of the DAP in Parliament and UMNOís primary concern in the next five years to respond to PASí political challenge by a spiral of Islamisation and Malay-isation policies is also bad for Malaysiaís economic recovery and prosperity.
This is why the 1999 general election, which Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad incorrectly claimed as an even greater victory for Barisan Nasional than the 1995 general election, had failed to restore market confidence, both national and international.
The Kuala Lumpur stock market, for instance, nosedived for four consecutive days after Mondayís general election, falling by 11.25 points to 734.66 points as compared to the close of trading the previous Friday at 745.91. In the next three days, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index (KLCI) fell another 10.03 points to 724.63 points at the close of trading this week.
The brutal fact Malaysians must face is that foreign investments and funds are not going to rush into Malaysia to power economic recovery and prosperity if there is going to be a spiral of Islamisation and Malay-isation policies in the next five years.
Malaysia faces an uncertain and perilous future as a result of the marginalisation of the DAP in Parliament and in Malaysian politics on Mondayís polls - thanks to the campaign of fear and falsehoods of the Gerakan and MCA.
Gerakan and MCA successfully smeared me as an advocate and champion of PAS and an Islamic state in the recent general election, when I had never swerved from the DAPís founding principle that Malaysia shall remain forever a democratic secular state.
I have no regrets over my defeat in Bukit Bendera if this can help the people in Penang and Malaysia to see through the irresponsible politics of fear and falsehoods of MCA and Gerakan and realise that a vote for DAP cannot be a vote for PAS and an Islamic State where there can be no pork, alcohol or temples.
In fact, in the past three decades, the DAP was the only political party in Malaysia which stood up courageously and unequivocally for a democratic secular Malaysia, for which I was detained twice under the Internal Security Act and other DAP leaders also lost their personal liberties for the same cause.
I am prepared to pay this costly political price of being thrown out of Parliament for the first time in three decades if it can once and for all liberate Malaysians from the irresponsible campaign of lies and fear of the Gerakan and MCA.
Lim Kit Siang
5th December 1999