I will give Mahathir 10 sen for the wager he has won over whether general election will be held last year when I visit him during the Hari Raya Open House tomorrow

- Opening of Selangor DAP State Convention
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): In announcing a meeting of the Secretaries-General of Barisan Nasional component parties after Hari Raya to discuss preparations for the general elections, the Barisan Nasional Secretary General and Information Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Rahmat spoke of a "big mandate" in the next general election  so that the government could resolve all problems and also be able to handle the challenges from outside.

One root cause of the unprecedented triple political, economic and moral crisis facing Malaysia is because of the landslide victory of the Barisan Nasional in the 1995 general election, with the government currently controlling not two-thirds but  over five-sixth majority in Parliament, undermining all check-and-balance mechanisms, aggravated the concentration of power in the Executive and in particular the Prime Minister, as well as breeding an arrogance of power inimical to the democratisation of the country and the development of a culture of accountability and integrity in public life.

If the Barisan Nasional wins as big a majority in the next general election as in 1995, despite the triple political, economic and moral crisis which the Barisan Nasional has plunged the people and country on the eve of the new millennium, Malaysia will be starting the 21st century in the worst possible footing.

The best way to assure that Malaysia can develop in a healthy  democratic manner allowing the genius of the diverse citizenry in Malaysia to flower to their full potentials is to salvage the Malaysian system of parliamentary democracy by denying the traditional two-thirds majority of the Barisan Nasional government, to make the government realise that they must respect the views and sensitivities of the governed not once in five years during the polls but throughout the five-year period in a system which entrenches the processs of consultation and consensus between the government and the people.

I believe the conditions are ripe for the first time in Malaysian electoral history for the denial of the two-thirds traditional parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional government in the next general elections.

Mohamed Rahmat seems to be completely out of tune with the widespread demands of the people  wanting wide-ranging reforms in the system of governance in the country when he speaks about the Barisan Nasional being returned with an even bigger majority in the next general election.

In actual fact, the events of the past two weeks in the first month of the new year has caused an even greater erosion of the electoral support for  the Barisan Nasional government, as there does not seem to an end to a catalogue of injustices in the country - in particular the injustices in the treatment of former Deputy Prime Minister, from his "black eye" to denial of bail to allow him to be with his family during  the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or even the last-minute amendment of charges by the prosecution and the expunging of nearly half of the proceedings of the 46-day trial after  Anwar’s reputation had been  stained and sullied - nationally and internationally.

There is speculation that general election may be held in the next few months to coincide with the Sabah state general election. I believe, however, that it is more likely that the general election will be held in the second rather than the first half of this year.

I have lost the 10-sen wager with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on whether general election would be held last year.

Last March, Mahathir responded to a statement I  had made in January that general election might be called  last year and said  that he was prepared to have a 10-sen wager with me that there would be no general election in the next six  months.

As I have lost the 10-sen wager that general election would be held last year, I will give Mahathir 10 sen for the wager he had won when I visit him for the Hari Raya Open House tomorrow.

Mahathir must thank the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for winning the 10-sen wager, for if not for the Anwar "earthquake", Mahathir could have called general election in the second half of last year.


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