(Alor Setar, Thursday): Tonight is a new experience for Malaysians, where thousands of people, regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation, come together, not because of the inducement of money, feasts or promises of government development projects, but simply because of their common quest as Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has been going around warning that the next general election will be the "dirtiest" in history, even suggesting that there could be violence from the Opposition parties.
In Malaysia, only the government parties have the resources to make the next election the "dirtiest" in history. The past 42 years and nine general elections had shown that the Opposition were always prepared to accept the verdict of the voters during elections, however unfair the electoral process, and those who wanted to create troubles were invariably from the ruling parties and not the Opposition.
This is why the DAP and other Opposition parties can challenge UMNO and the Barisan Nasional to jointly make a full commitment to ensure that the next general election is "trouble-free", and far from being the "dirtiest" in history, become the most fair, free and clean since Independence in 1957.
I am not surprised that there has been no positive response from UMNO and Barisan Nasional to this challenge, for no one apart from them could be capable of making the next election the "dirtiest" in history.
The four Opposition parties, KeADILan, PAS, PRM and DAP have agreed to co-operate on the common objectives of restoring justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in Malaysia and a common alternative manifesto is in the final stage of preparation to give the Barisan Nasional its most serious electoral challenge in history.
Apart from a common alternative manifesto, the four Opposition parties are also working to reach understanding to ensure a "one-to-one" contest between the Opposition and the Barisan Nasional in the next general election - two ingredients which could result in far-reaching political change to break the mould of Barisan Nasional political hegemony of the past four decades.
This mould of Barisan Nasional political hegemony, which is the result of the ruling coalition never losing two-thirds parliamentary majority in the past 42 years, and which is the cause of the increasingly authoritarian form of democracy in Malaysia, must be broken if there is going to be a new political era where there would be greater accountability, openness and transparency of governance as well as greater democratisation and respect for human rights in Malaysia.