PBS return to BN - another sign of the sea-change which the September 11 events are wreaking on the Malaysian political landscape

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Wednesday)The decision by the PBS supreme council immediately after its 16th annual congress  to re-apply to return to the Barisan Nasional 11 years after its sudden departure on the eve of the 1990 general election is another sign of the sea-change which the September 11 events are wreaking on the Malaysian political landscape.

Although talks of PBS returning to Barisan Nasional have been making the political rounds in the past six months, it would appear that the far-reaching political aftermath of the September 11 events played a critical role in precipitating a final decision in that direction.

Opposition parties whether   the DAP or  Barisan Alternative  ignore at their own peril the   far-reaching implications and potency of the September 11 events to international and domestic  politics  - which is illustrated by the PBS’ decision and Saturday’s Australian general elections.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad hates the guts of John
Howard and would love to see a new Prime Minister “down under”, as he had labelled Howard a “racist” and “regional bully”.

However, Mahathir would definitely  have rejoiced in the Australian Liberal/National coalition’s thumping victory in the Australian  general elections  for it provides hope that UMNO and Barisan Nasional are also capable of achieving a turnaround of their  political fortunes in the next general elections thanks to Osama bin Laden and the September 11 horror events in New York and Washington.

Until mid-August, Howard's coalition appeared headed for certain defeat.

A nationwide swing of just 0.8 percent would be enough for Kim Beazley’s Labour  to topple Howard's coalition and at one time, Australian Labour had a 10 per cent lead over the ruling coalition, which would be translated into a parliamentary majority of 30-40 seats in the general election.

But Howard was able to achieve a dramatic recovery and turnaround, with a majority up from eight to between 10 and 14,  thanks to the aftermath of the September 11 events and his hard line on the Afghan boat people which drowned out the key issues which had figured heavily in Australian public debate in recent years, such as reconciliation with Australia's indigenous Aborigines, the move to become a republic and relations with Asia.

Malaysian politics  is similarly liable to be greatly affected by the events of September 11,  not only in September’s Sarawak state general elections but even in the next general elections most likely to be held in 2003.

If Lunas by-election, for instance,  is held at the  end of this month and not November 29 last year, Barisan Nasional will win with a thumping majority because of  the September 11 events and its aftermath, including  Mahathir’s declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state to counter PAS’  Islamic state concept  and PAS’ jihad call.

It is most unfortunate that there is not sufficient awareness of the far-reaching impact of the September 11 events on the Malaysian political landscape not only among Malaysians but even  among political leaders and parties in the Opposition.

At the DAP Teluk Intan dinner on Saturday night, I had publicly  advised PRM leaders, including the PRM President, Dr. Syed Husin Ali, to stop DAP-bashing, blaming the DAP for weakening the BA by our pull-out and strengthening the Barisan Nasional, when they know that it was PAS’ violation of the BA common manifesto to uphold the fundamental features of the Malaysian Constitution - which would mean no Islamic State - which was the cause of  the BA rupture.

But Syed Husin had  continued this DAP-bashing the next day.

If Barisan Alternative leaders do not realise that in the aftermath of September 11 events, Malaysians are more wary of extremist and narrow-minded actions and policies, as in abandoning the 44-year fundamental constitutional principle and nation-building principle of Malaysia as a democratic, secular and multi-religious state, the Barisan Alternative is only making itself more irrelevant to the aspirations of Malaysians in the new era.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman