(Penang, Thursday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Barisan Nasional Government have failed their first-year report card after the last general election when the people of Lunas, on behalf of Malaysians, rejected the Barisan Nasional and elected the Barisan Alternative candidate Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in yesterdayís Lunas by-election.
The Lunas by-election was doubly significant as it fell on the first anniversary of the 1999 general election and the Barisan Alternative victory is a strong message of the peopleís disapproval of Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional governmentís continuing undemocratic, oppressive, corrupt and unjust policies and rule.
Mahathir had shed tears at the recent UMNO special general assembly about money politics in UMNO, but he did not shed tears over the blatant money politics practised by the Barisan Nasional in the by-election which only highlighted the Barisan Nasional governmentís lack of seriousness and commitment to fight corruption and money politics to initiate fundamental reforms in the system of governance in Malaysia.
Is the Auditor-General prepared to audit the propriety and even legality of the public expenditures in the by-election where the Public Works Department and tens of millions of ringgit of public funds were dragooned and hijacked as part of the Barisan Nasional by-election machinery - and the inability of the Cabinet Ministers to differentiate between their public duties and party responsibilities by campaigning in the by-election? In fact, an independent and impartial Auditor-Generalís audit on the misuse of public funds in the by-election should order the Barisan Nasional or the MIC to reimburse the Federal Treasury all public expenditures improperly and illegally expended in the by-election.
Is the Anti-Corruption Agency prepared to launch a full-scale investigation into the Barisan Nasionalís money politics in the Lunas by-election, especially on the blatant misuse of public funds, resources and manpower?
Will MIC President Datuk Seri Samy Vellu keep his promise that he would not return to Kuala Lumpur without a Barisan Nasional victory in the by-election?
The Barisan Nasionalís tactics of fear and intimidation in the Lunas by-election was most deplorable, in particular his "May 13 riots" special message on the polling eve which was published in all the printed media on polling day yesterday - violating election laws and conventions of no campaigning on polling day.
The Chinese voters, although they form 37 per cent of the mixed electorate in Lunas, must be specially commended for their critical swing in support of the Barisan Alternative candidate.
As I said at the Barisan Alternative Lunas by-election ceramah at Taman Selasih on Monday, the 9,896 Chinese voters out of an electorate of 26,746 voters hold the key to victory in the by-election.
I had called on the Chinese voters not only to vote for themselves and Lunas, but also to speak up on behalf of more than five million Malaysian Chinese in the country to send a clear and unmistakable message to Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional government of their opposition to the Vision Schools concept and the unwarranted slurs on the Chinese community as "extremists", "chauvinists", "terrorists" and "ingrates" for their support for Suqiu and Chinese education.
Mahathirís attack on the Chinese as "ungrateful" three days before the by-election was most unacceptable, as it was Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional which were guilty of the politics of ingratitude - when the Malaysian Chinese voters had supported and saved the Barisan Nasionalís two-thirds parliamentary majority in the last general election.
Mahathir should heed the voice of Lunas by-election, drop Vision Schools plan, end politics of ingratitude and apologise for the many unwarranted slurs on the Chinese community in describing them as "extremists", "terrorists" and "ingrates" for their support for Suqiu and Chinese education
The Cabinet should also immediately address the legacy of MIC in Barisan Nasional - the marginalisation of the Malaysian Indians in the country to the extent of becoming a new underclass in the country with the increasing hosts of socio-economic, educational and cultural grievances of the community.
Although the Barisan Nasional had not been able to take advantage
of the differences in the Barisan Alternative in the run-up to the Lunas
by-election, it is urgent that these differences should be addressed