A recent Barisan Nasional pre-election analysis forecast that although the number of Chinese majority seats in Parliament are not many (about two dozen or 12 per cent of Parliamentary seats), the Chinese voters will have a decisive role in determining the outcomes of many mixed constituencies and even in some Malay majority seats in the event the Malay voters are divided, leaving the Chinese to decide on the winner.
This analysis said: "In the coming elections, the Chinese
votes will become decisive. If the Malay votes are divided between
UMNO and the Malay Opposition, it is the Chinese votes that will
deliver the marginal seats to the Barisan Nasional. This is particularly
crucial in the over 30-odd mixed
parliamentary constituencies where Chinese votes constitute over 30 per cent of the electorate. At the present moment, the Chinese sentiments tend to be with Dr Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional. Chinese votes will even be decisive in Malay majority constituencies in Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Trengganu where the 500-1,000 Chinese votes could determine the electoral outcome in closely contested seats. In the last elections there were a number of seats won with narrow majorities of between 200 and 500 votes. In these marginal seats, the Chinese votes are pivotal. It is because Chinese votes account for between 20 and 30 per cent in many of the constituencies in Kedah that the possibility of PAS winning control of Kedah state is unlikely. It is also because Chinese voters account for 30 to 40 per cent of most constituencies in Johor that the Opposition has not made much headway in Johor state."
Recently, the MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik felt so confident about the Chinese voter-support that he boasted that 99% of the Chinese will support the Barisan Nasional in the next general election.
Why has Mahathir suddenly become "more popular with the Chinese than the Malay community" and Liong Sik so supremely confident that 99% of the Chinese voters will support the Barisan Nasional in the next election?
Basically, it is because the Barisan Nasional leaders believe that they
have three "trump cards" which they could use to
persuade, mislead or even stampede the Chinese voters to support the Barisan
Nasional in the next election, namely fear that support for Barisan
Alternative could result in three catastrophes:
However, if the Malaysian Chinese can be persuaded, misled or stampeded into believing that the only way to prevent all or anyone of these three catastrophic scenarios, namely another May 13 or racial unrest, end of economic recovery and the establishment of an Islamic state, from coming into being, is to support the Barisan Nasional and to vote against the Barisan Alternative, then Liong Sik may be right that 99 per cent of the Malaysian Chinese voters would vote for the Barisan Nasional in the next election.
If the Malaysian Chinese succumb to the insidious Barisan Nasional propaganda campaign and believe that these three scenarios, or anyone of them, is possible, then the goals of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance - whether it be to end draconian laws like the Internal Security Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Police Act, restore rule of law and independence of the judiciary or wipe out corruption - would be shunted to a lowly place in the votersí priority of things.
In such a situation, the 17-Point Hua Tuan Election Appeals, the "People are the Boss" Declaration or "Restore Governance to the People" Declaration would lose out to the anxieties and fears about a possible another May 13, no economic recovery or the establishment of an Islamic State.
With these three concerns foremost in the minds of the Chinese voters, the demands and expectations of the Chinese voters placed on the MCA and other Barisan Nasional component parties on the issues of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance would not be very high or stringent.
This is why it had been so easy for the MCA, Gerakan and SUPP leadership to "defuse" the 17-Point Hua Tuan Election Appeals, making it into a "non-issue" in a matter of a month since its first announcement - even before all the Chinese organisations had fully endorsed it and before its formal presentation to the political parties, whether in government or opposition.
Recently, MCA President Datuk Ling Liong Sik made great fanfare that he had raised the 17-point Hua Tuan Election Appeals in the Cabinet, that the Election Appeals were in line with Vision 2020 and would benefit all Malaysians and not any particular race, that the Prime Minister had agreed to the setting up of a Cabinet Committee comprising MCA, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers on the Election Appeals and that various sub-committees and avenues would be used to study the Election Appeals.
What we see is actually the MCA Ministersí formal support in principle of the 17-point Hua Tuan Election Appeals, but actual opposition in their implementation.
The senseless and tragic death of Dr. Tai Eng Teck as a result of trigger-happy police shooting on 20th September 1999 is a very good illustration.
Point 14 of the Hua Tuan Election Appeals on "Restore confidence in the police force" said: "In recent years, the way in which the Malaysian police have conducted themselves has been a cause for concern and has shaken the confidence of the public in the police force." It proposed the establishment of "commissions of enquiry to investigate all cases of police abuse of power and torture under police detention, release these reports for public scrutiny and punish those police personnel found to have abused their power".
Did Liong Sik raise in Cabinet the senseless and tragic killing of Dr. Tai by the trigger-happy police and asked for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry, as proposed by the Hua Tuan Election Appeals, to ensure that Dr. Tai will be the last case of senseless killing by trigger-happy police in Malaysia?
I do not subscribe to the view that the Chinese in Malaysia are all materialistic, money-minded and are well behind the Malays in their aspiration for change to ensure that there is justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
In fact, the Malaysian Chinese had in the sixties, seventies and eighties been in the very forefront in the battle for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance, or the DAP would not have survived and stood tall in Malaysian political arena in the past three decades.
The Chinese in Malaysia are no less concerned than the Malays in wanting justice, freedom, democracy and good governance but they have greater fears as a result of the Barisan Nasional playing the three "trump cards" of another May 13, no economic recovery and the establishment of an Islamic state.
The DAP had been trying to explain that these three fears are baseless and unfounded. For instance, we pointed out that the Islamic state is not the issue in the next general election; that the DAPís opposition to an Islamic state is clear and consistent; that to establish an Islamic State, the Constitution must be amended which requires two-thirds majority in the 193-seat Parliament; and that in the next election, there is no way PAS can win one -third majority of at least 65 parliamentary seats let alone two-third majority of 129 seats. But these rational explanations have not gone very far to defuse the Barisan Nasional card on "Islamic state" and allay the fears of the general Chinese voter public on the issue.
For the first time in the history of Malaysia, there is a golden political opportunity to shake off the Barisan Nasional straightjacket of "racial divide and rule" and for Malaysians of all races and religions to come together on the common platform of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance to usher in a New Malaysia in the new millennium, but this historic opportunity will be lost if the Barisan Nasional succeeds in playing its three trump cards of making the Chinese voters putting greater store in their fears about an another May 13, no economic recovery and the establishment of an Islamic state.
These three "trump cards" of deception of the Barisan Nasional must be exposed and rendered ineffective if we are to succeed in creating the national unity necessary to bring about a new world of justice in a New Malaysia.