(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad told the CNBC’s "Asia Tonight" that Malaysian voters are generally conservative and do not like sudden changes that may disrupt their lives. Given that scenario, he said he was fairly confident the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition would retain power in the next general election.
If Mahathir is so confident that the Barisan Nasional would be returned to power in the next general election, why then are Barisan Nasional leaders raising the spectre of violence at every possible opportunity to frigthen the voters?
Even in his speech launching the Amanah Saham Nasional 2 yesterday, the Prime Minister did not miss the opportunity to raise the spectre of violence in his latest attack on "foreign powers and forces", claiming that "foreigners wished to see the various races in the country become enemies, resort to violence and damage the country".
Is this part of the larger Barisan Nasional game-plan to create a culture of fear in the run-up to the general election, so as to intimidate the voters from freely exercising their constitutional right to vote the candidate or party of their choice?
Furthermore, if Mahathir is so confident that the Barisan Nasional would be returned to power, why is the Barisan Nasional so reluctant to respond to the DAP proposal for an all-party code of conduct to ensure that the next election will not be the dirtiest in history, laying down the ground rules to forbid the politics of fear and blackmail (as by raising the spectre of violence and May 13), the politics of money and corruption as well as the politics of lies and falsehoods, and the establishment of a Clean and Ethical Election Commission to supervise and monitor the adherence to this electoral code of conduct by all political parties?
In Indonesia, while the glacial vote count continues agonisingly with only some five per cent of the votes counted after two days, President B.J. Habibie has said that his Golkar Party would abide by the verdict of the people and was ready to enter opposition.
Is Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional leaders prepared to declare publicly that the Barisan Nasional would be prepared to peacefully accept whatever the verdict of the Malaysian electorate in the next election, whether it be denial of its two-thirds majority or even change of government - to demonstrate their full commitment to the electoral process?
It is most regrettable that the government had refused to consult the Opposition on the appointment of the new Election Commission Chairman in keeping with the spirit of the constitution of having an Election Commission which commands public confidence.
However, DAP will fully co-operate with the new Election Commission Chairman, Datuk Omar Hashim, to ensure that the next election will not be the dirtiest in history but a model of clean, free and fair elections.
Omar’s first challenge is to convene an all-party meeting to ensure that the next election will not be the dirtiest in history, starting with a commitment by all political leaders to denounce violence from whatever quarter as well as giving firm undertakings not to raise the spectre of violence and May 13 in their speeches, beginning from now till the end of the general election campaign.