Four opposition parties may be able to reach agreement  next month on a common alternative manifesto for coming general election

-  "Justice For All" Dinner

by Lim Kit Siang  

(Paya Terubong, Friday):  The four opposition parties, KeADILan, PAS, PRM and DAP may be able to reach agreement next month on a common alternative manifesto for the coming general election.

At the Barisan Nasional supreme council meeting yesterday,  the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad directed all Barisan component parties to immediately activate their election machinery. Asked  by reporters when would be the general election, he said: "It could be held this year,  next year, one month from now or  two months, three months, four months, five months or six months."

Although Parliament has been summoned to meet from July 12, there is nothing to stop Mahathir from dissolving Parliament before the Dewan Rakyat meets next month.

This was in fact what happened in the 1995 general election.    Even as late as April 1, 1995, Mahathir said that Parliament would convene as scheduled on April 10, 1995, when it would be officially opened by the Yang di Pertuan Agong, as notice for the summoning of the meeting of Parliament had been sent out to all Members of Parliament.

However, four  days later, on 5th April 1995 - five days before the new Parliament meeting was to be officially opened by the Yang di Pertuan Agong - Mahathir announced his decision on the dissolution of Parliament the next day, resulting in the holding of the ninth general election in the country on April 25, 1995.

There is nothing therefore to rule out the possibility of the dissolution of Parliament before it convenes on July 12, although indications point to a later date in the third or fourth quarter of the year.

The next election, however, is going to be the greatest test for Barisan Nasional and Mahathir personally in his 18 years as Prime Minister - greater than the 1990 general election when the Barisan Nasional  managed to secure only 53.38 per cent of the national votes cast after resorting to the dirty Tengku Razaleigh Sabah ‘tengkolok" tactics.

Two days before the polling day in the 1990 general election,  radio, television and the Malay  press were mobilised to saturate the Malay heartland with the accusation that  Tengku Razaleigh had sold out the Malay race and honour and betrayed Islam, giving as proof his wearing of a Kadazan headgear purportedly bearing the Christian cross.

This was of course a lie, for otherwise, Tengku Razaleigh would not be back in UMNO, and just appointed as Kelantan UMNO chief  by Mahathir  with the task of recapturing Kelantan for UMNO from PAS - which is the condition for Tengku Razaleigh to keep alive his Prime Ministerial dream.

However, the damage was done in those two days before the 1990 general election polling day, when Malays in the rural heartland were misled to believe that Tengku Razaleigh’s wearing  a Kadazan headgear purportedly with the Christian cross was proof that he had sold out Malay race and honour and betrayed Islam. Mahathir  had himself wore a Kadazan headgear with  a similar motif  when he visited Sabah  during the election campaign but the Opposition had no access to the mass media to effectively counter the mischievous and malicious  last-minute Barisan propaganda.

As the next election is going to be an even greater test for Mahathir than the 1990 general election, Malaysian voters should expect even dirtier electoral tactics than the Tengku Razaleigh Kadazan tengkolok trick with the so-called Christian cross - and this probably explains Mahathir’s warning that the next election will be the "dirtiest" in history.

In Malaysia, only the ruling parties can make the next election the dirtiest in history,  as the Opposition are incapable as well as do not want the next election to be the dirtiest in history.  In fact, what the Opposition want is the most "free, fair and clean" general election in history, so that  Malaysians of all races and religions can freely through their votes express their demand for political change and an end to the Barisan Nasional abuses of power and misgovernance as well as the restoration of justice,  equality, freedom and   democracy for all Malaysians.

The Barisan Nasional parties have in fact already started their campaign to make the next election the dirtiest in history, with all sorts of lies and falsehoods levelled against the Opposition parties, including hundreds of "phantom" members purportedly leaving the Opposition to join the Barisan Nasional - with such charade presided over  by Deputy Ministers and even Ministers!

Mahathir  has accused the opposition parties of teaming up to  cheat each other. Nothing could be further from the truth.  Opposition parties have their basic differences, as for instance on the issue of Islamic state between the DAP and PAS.

 However, DAP is prepared to co-operate with PAS, not  to support the establishment of an Islamic state, but to stop injustices, corruption, abuses of power, unaccountability, violation of democratic freedoms and human rights of  the Barisan Nasional government.

Although UMNO leaders are going round saying that Opposition co-operation cannot succeed because DAP cannot agree with PAS on the question of an Islamic State, MCA and Gerakan are going round trying to frighten the non-Malay voters by claiming that DAP is supporting PAS on the establishment of an Islamic state.

MCA and Gerakan leaders hope that they can create an Islamic state "scare" in the next election to frighten the voters from supporting the DAP, although they know that the  Islamic state is not an issue in the next election.

If PAS wants to create an Islamic state, it must have two-thirds parliamentary majority to amend the Constitution, which means having at least 128 Members of Parliament out of 193 MPs.   It is completely impossible for PAS to have 128 MPs in the next election. In fact, PAS cannot even get the simple majority necessary to form a government of its own, i.e. at least 97 out of 193 MPs, for PAS will not  be fielding more than 70 Parliamentary seats if the Opposition parties agree on a "one-to-one" understanding to contest against the Barisan Nasional in the next election.

MCA and Gerakan leaders, however, will not shrink from trying to create an  Islamic state "scare" in the next election, although they fully understand that Islamic state is not an issue at all, so that they could succeed in frightening the voters from supporting the Opposition and  allow the injustices, corruption, abuses of power, unaccountability, violation of democratic freedoms and human rights of  the Barisan Nasional government to continue unchecked.


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