At the time, Malaysian democracy was at its lowest ebb as a result of the unprecedented landslide victory of the Barisan Nasional in the earlier general election, giving Bagan the appellation of "Fort of Democracy".
In the past four years, the people have seen how the perpetuation of the Barisan Nasional political hegemony as a result of unbroken two-thirds parliamentary majority since Independence and the uninterrupted 18-year premiership of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad created a host of political and socio-economic injustices and wrongs, whether it be corruption, cronyism, nepotism, abuses of power or violation of human rights.
The past 12 months have seen an unprecedented concentration of such cases of abuses of power and manifest injustices, whether it be the case of Lim Guan Eng, Anwar Ibrahim, Dr. Tai Eng Teck, Murray Hiebert, Irene Fernandez, and a host of others.
Just now, we heard a veteran Chinese educationist Loot Ting Yee, explaining the 17-point Malaysian Chinese Organisationsí Election Appeals as to the aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance for all Malaysians.
Four years after the Bagan by-election, there are even more reasons for the people to be unhappy with the Barisan Nasional government. But can the DAP expect the degree of support which we received from the people in the Bagan by-election?
Last week, MCA President Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said in Penang that he was confident that 99 per cent of the Chinese voters would support the Barisan Nasional in the next general election. In fact, the Barisan Nasional believes that Mahathir is now "more popular with the Chinese than the Malay community".
This seems to be a paradox - the Barisan Nasional responsible for a host of political and socio-economic ills in the country after its landslide victory in the 1995 general election, and grave injustices which make Malaysia the laughing-stock of the world whether in the cases of Lim Guan Eng, Anwar Ibrahim or Murray Hiebert, and yet Liong Sik can declare publicly that 99 per cent of the Chinese voters would support the Barisan Nasional in the next general 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
The Barisan Nasional has a very powerful election weapon in these three "trump cards", which would play a central role in what Mahathir has warned would be the "dirtiest" election in history.
If the Malaysian Chinese succumb to the insidious Barisan Nasional
propaganda on these three "trump cards" that any one or all three of the
scenarios of another May 13, no economic recovery and establishment of an Islamic State is possible, then this would be the chief pre-occupation of the Chinese voters in the next election and all other issues, whether to restore and establish justice, freedom, democracy and good governance; the the 17-Point Hua Tuan Election Appeals, the "People are the Boss" Declaration
or "Restore Governance to the People" Declaration would all take a lowly second place.
There is no rational basis whatsoever for the Chinese voters or for anyone to worry about these three Barisan Nasional "trump cards" as they are merely being used by the Barisan Nasional as part of its politics of fear and intimidation to force Chinese voters to vote for the Barisan Nasional.
But politics is not always about the rational - but what electoral tactics, however unprincipled and baseless, can work to influence, mislead or stampede the voters to vote for the Barisan Nasional.
The greatest challenge of the DAP and all who want to see a major
political breakthrough in the next general election is how to counter and
expose these three "trump cards" of the Barisan so that they do not succeed
in denying Malaysians the unprecedented opportunity to break the Barisan
Nasional political hegemony by ending its two-thirds parliamentary majority
to bring about a New Malaysia - where justice, freedom, democracy and good
governance can take root in the Malaysian soil.