Will Ketari be Lunas 2 or Indera Kayangan 2?

Media Statement 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday):  The Ketari by-election in Pahang will be an important and significant  political barometer for the country.

Will it be Lunas 2, a repeat of the Lunas by-election result  in November 2000 which turned a Barisan Nasional 4,700-vote majority victory in the 1999 general elections a year earlier into a stunning 530-vote Barisan Alternative win or will it be an Indera Kayangan 2, where the Barisan Nasional won with a  totally-unexpected bigger majority of 2,593 votes in the by-election in January this year  as compared to a 1,974-vote majority in the 1999 general elections.  

The vast difference in the Lunas and Indera Kayangan by-election results in a matter of slightly a year is a measure of the sea-change in  global and Malaysian politics as a result of the traumatic September 11 events.

There is no doubt that if the Indera Kayangan by-election had been held before September 11, its outcome would have been very different from the actual by-election result on January 19 this year.  Similarly,  the Ketari by-election  is a very different ball-game,  before and after the September 11 events.  

UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders have been very uplifted by the political sea-change caused by the September 11 events, and many are  using the Barisan Nasional  victory in the  Indera Kayangan by-election to claim that  they have regained  their political strength before  the Anwar Ibrahim turmoils in 1998 and that the political wind has changed direction, blowing in their favour instead  of against them. 

The Ketari by-election, which may be the last by-election before the next general elections, in demonstrating whether it is a Lunas 2 or an Indera Kayangan 2, will therefore be an important test-case as to whether the high hopes of the people for far-reaching political change and reform, and in particular the breaking of the uninterrupted political hegemony of the Barisan Nasional in Malaysian politics which had seemed so possible and near in the last general elections, is still within reach or has escaped the immediate grasp of Malaysians.  

This will be the most important message from the Ketari by-election.  

Although the DAP has withdrawn from the Barisan Alternative because of fundamental differences over the Islamic state issue, both the DAP and the Barisan Alternative share the common aspirations in wanting to see the restoration of justice, freedom, democracy and good governance in the country and in particular the crushing of the unbroken Barisan Nasional political hegemony which is a precondition for the realisation of these aspirations. 

The far-reaching political and electoral  implications and the sea-change wrought by the September 11 events on the political landscape as testified by the very different results in the Lunas and Indera Kayangan by-elections  should be  the common concern of all Opposition parties and it would be in the national interest of all  opposition parties to discuss the  new post-September 11 political scenario and how to ensure that the Barisan Nasional is not allowed to exploit the September 11 events to give it a new lease of political life and even  to camouflage an anti-democracy campaign behind an anti-terrorism campaign.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman