I thanked Tun Zahir for all the guidance and help he had given me during his four terms as Speaker of Parliament.
I am very touched by the avalanche of emails, faxes, letters and phone calls, by Malaysians regardless of race, religion, gender or age (ranging from 12 to 68 years), inside and outside the country, who expressed support and encouragement to me to keep on the fight for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
This is from one Penangite:
Another email from Lim, KC addressed to Karpal and me, said:
"Malaysia still need both of you who can and dare to speak up for the silent masses. The days if two of you leave the political scene without proper replacements will be the Black Days for DAP and the country!
"Give another try but this time in Kuala Lumpur - win or lose, you may retire knowing that you have completed your national service - people will appreciate."
One Azmi Aman in his email said:
Yesterday, I received the following letter from the President of National
Human Rights Society (HAKAM), Ramdas Tikamdas, who wrote:
We are deeply saddened by the recent turn of events in your not being returned to Parliament as civil society has regrettably lost its most eloquent and fearless voice.
The outcome of the 10th general elections will prove to be a turning point in the evolution of our system of parliamentary democracy in more ways than one, and many Malaysians are only now slowly coming to grips with what they have wrought.
The massive deluge of the campaign of fear and divide and rule shamelessly engineered by the powers that be through the blitz of the mainstream and electronic media have unfortunately found their quarry - and the Chinese swing, which have shut out the halls of parliament to the leaders of the DAP and eminent persons from the civil society, could sadly slow the march of human rights, justice and the rule of law in the context of our multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
HAKAM would like to put on record its tribute and appreciation to you for your selfless and fearless long-public service in the quest for a more just and equitable society and commitment to the principles of parliamentary democracy and good governance.
We have no doubt that the cherished ideals and principles that you have steadfastly championed through the long years of trials and tribulations and personal sacrifices will not be in vain and your precept and example will surely be a source of inspiration and an example for the young generation of Malaysians to emulate.
We sincerely urge you to continue to be the voice of ‘liberty and justice’ and for the ‘welfare and happiness’ of all Malaysians as promised in the Proclamation of Independence."
I thank Ramdas Tikamdas for his kind words as well as his invitation
as guest at the HAKAM book launch on "Human Rights and the National Commission"
in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day on Saturday 11th
December 1999, which unfortuanately I could not attend as I have another
pre-arranged function in the Bukit Bendera constituency.
I assure Malaysians that although I have been booted out of Parliament for the first time in 30 years, I will not lose heart and give up my fight for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
My only regret is that I failed to convince the voters of Bukit Bendera/Kebun Bunga to be in the forefront of the movement to bring about a paradigm shift in Malaysian politics in the new millennium.
If the Chinese had not succumbed to the MCA/Gerakan’s politics of fear and falsehoods in making them believe that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State - and Gerakan/MCA campaigners even went to the extent of frightening the voters of Bukit Bendera that if I am elected, the Chinese cannot eat pork, take alcohol, go to temples and beautiful women cannot find jobs - 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 policies - without having to bother about the political challenge from DAP.
Gerakan and MCA had 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 DAP’s 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, no alcohol, no temples and no jobs for beautiful women.
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.
Malaysia faces an uncertain and perilous future as a result of the marginalisation of the DAP in Parliament and in Malaysian politics after the Nov. 29, 1999 polls - thanks to the campaign of fear and falsehoods of the Gerakan and MCA.
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 nation’s 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.
I see three immediate dangers.
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 policies - threatening not only a democratic secular Malaysia but even Vision 2020 and the concept of Bangsa Malaysia.
The marginalisation of the DAP in Parliament and UMNO’s primary concern in the next five years to respond to PAS’ political challenge by a spiral of Islamisation policies will scare away foreign investors as foreign investments and funds are not going to rush into the country to power Malaysia’s economic recovery and prosperity if there is going to be a spiral of Islamisation policies in the next five years.
The failure to smash the Barisan Nasional political hegemony and two-thirds parliamentary majority will lead to a more arbitrary, high-handed and undemocratic rule in the next five years where there would be even less accountability, transparency, democracy and respect for human rights.
Two incidents after the Nov. 30, 1999 general election illustrate the danger of this trend: the first is the announcement by Works Minister, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu that the East Coast Highway would end in Pahang because of the PAS capture of the Terengganu state government.
The second is the disturbing fact that more than a week after the polls, Mahathir had not been sworn in as Prime Minister by the Yang di Pertuan Agong. Mahathir can only start forming his Cabinet after he had been sworn in as Prime Minister - but he is now turning the process upside down. This was what Mahathir did when he sacked Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister on Sept. 2, 1998. The dismissal of Anwar as a Minister should, under the Constitution, be made by the Yang di Pertuan Agong but Mahathir sacked Anwar in a letter which was copied to the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
There are those who would say that these are just constitutional or legal niceties as the real power is now in the hands of Mahathir as Prime Minister but I see the latest incident as ominous signs that the next five years could see Malaysian democracy slip from its present half-light to an even darker period.
I do not rule out the most unprecedented assaults of what is left of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the next few years which might make the Operation Lalang mass arrests 1987-1988 mere child’s play.
With the Barisan Nasional returned with its parliamentary two-thirds majority although deprived of two-thirds of the national votes cast ( BN secured only 53.38 per cent of the parliamentary votes), the greatest onus is on the Barisan Nasional not to continue to abuse its political hegemony or to spurn the aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
In his fifth and final term as Prime Minister, Mahathir should leave a legacy which all future generations of Malaysians can be proud - not in having the tallest building in the world, the highest flag-post in the world, the world’s most grandiose Prime Minister’s office and residence, but in building a vibrant civil society, with sustainable economic growth and prosperity where all Malaysians enjoy the attributes of a civilized society, namely justice, freedom and good governance.
For a start, let Barisan Nasional make two solemn commitments, that it would not turn Parliament into a battleground with PAS in the next five years to win back the Malay heartland in a spiral of Islamisation policies and that it would not make Parliament the rubber-stamp for greater repression of human rights and democracy in Malaysia.
The Barisan Nasional should carry out its solemn commitment to promote democracy and human rights by immediately establishing the National Commission of Human Rights, constituted by Malaysians of indisputable credibility and authority on human rights, and whose first task is to conduct a full-scale inquiry into the human right violations in the tenth general election to ensure that there could be no recurrence of such dirtiest election in the nation’s history.
I hope the millennium Parliament can see the restoration of its role as the highest political forum in the country for the institutionalisation of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia.