For the record, I wish to clarify that I had never predicted general election next year as I have always been of the view that the next general election would most likely be held in about 18 months’ time in 2003.
This was why at the Penang DAP State Convention in October, I had called on the DAP, following its withdrawal from the Barisan Alternative, to “go back to the drawing board to formulate and implement a 18-month action plan to prepare for the next general election in mid-2003”.
I had said then that it was very certain that Mahathir would be leading the Barisan Nasional and UMNO into the next general election for the sixth time, but it was most unlikely that the next general election would fall in 2004 for the full five-year term to be completed.
All along since then, I had held to the view that the next general election should be in 2003 although I conceded, as I said at the Wanita DAP Deepavali reception on November 26, 2001 that there was “increasing speculation” that it could be held next year.
However, Mahathir was playing semantics when he said that the Barisan Nasional government would not call for a snap general election just because it was in a good position to win.
A “snap” general election could have two meanings: firstly, meaning the dissolution of Parliament and holding a general election well before the completion of its five-year term, i.e. any time before the start of the fifth year of the Parliamentary session or before November 2003; and secondly, referring to the lack of adequate time for the conduct of a free, fair and clean election campaign.
If Mahathir is serious about not calling for a snap general election, he should stop playing semantics with the term “snap election” and give two undertakings - that he would not dissolve the present Parliament and call for general election until its fifth year of term, i.e. after November 2003; and secondly, that the next general election would be free, fair and clean and not the dirtiest general election in the nation’s history.
There is a likelihood that the 11th general election next round would be the dirtiest in the nation’s history not merely because of the shortness of time to prevent the holding of a meaningful election campaign but also because the Barisan Nasional would be playing the “terror” card to fully exploit the horrors of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington as happened in the recent Sarawak state general election, virtually threatening the voters that the only way to prevent the September 11 horrors which brought down the World Trade Centre and killed over 3,000 innocent people from occurring in Malaysia would be to vote the Barisan Nasional solidly back to power.