Three objectives of the Ketari by-election

- DAP Ketari by-election ceramah at Sungei Dua
by Lim Kit Siang

(Bentong,  Sunday): For 44 years after Merdeka, very few Malaysians know where is Ketari, but now it is the focus of national and even international attention. 

Today, the Australian newpaper, the Melbourne Age,  even carried a news report about the Ketari by-election, which described the by-election as “a test of Mahathir’s popularity”. 

The Melbourne Age reported: 

“The result of the byelection will have no impact on the ability of the Mahathir-backed state government to rule, because it already holds 30 of the 38 seats in Pahang's legislature.  

“But the poll is an important test for Mahathir's federal coalition government, which is on the rebound after losing ground to opponents at 1999 general elections.” 

This shows that what the voters of Ketari decide on polling day on March 31 is being closely followed not only by the country but also by the world - as their decision will decide not only who will be their new  State Assemblyman, but will have far-reaching influence on the future of nation-building policies in  Malaysia after the traumatic events of September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. 

The Barisan Nasional and Gerakan election propaganda machinery have started playing the 911 “terror” card,  in the way that they had exploited  May 13 “fear” card for the past three decades, to manipulate  the people’s fears of terrorism and extremism and desire for peace, law and order, to arm-twist the voters to give a blank-cheque of support for the Barisan Nasional government policies - including the declaration by the  Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the Gerakan general assembly on September 29 that Malaysia is already an Islamic state and Mahathir’s interview with seven Chinese newspapers on March 14 reaffirming the “ultimate objective” of the national education policy. 

Tonight’s China Press for instance carried the Gerakan Ketari by-election propaganda diet of falsehoods and distortions of its 911 “terror card” where  Gerakan vice chairman Dr. Kang Chin Seng made the serious accusation linking PAS with Kumpulan Militant Malaysia (KMM) and the crimes of bank robbery, arms heists, bombings of Christian churches and Hindu temples and even the assassination of the Lunas State Assemblyman Dr. Joe Fernandez. 

It is not for me to defend PAS, as PAS is capable of defending itself - but we have a right to demand that any allegation, let alone serious accusation linking a political party with terrorism and the crimes of bank robbery, arms heists, arson and even assassination, should be substantiated with facts. 

As far as I can recollect, even the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Inspector-General of Police have not linked PAS with the  terrorist and criminal acts of bank robbery, arms heists, bombings of Christian churches and Hindu temples or even the assassination of the former Lunas State Assemblyman, let alone with the KMM, but Gerakan leaders seem to be privy to information which even the government and the police do not have - and they should share such information with the public and in particular, the voters of Ketari. 

Kang said that with Nik Aziz as the head of the PAS Dewan Ulama and his son, Nik Adli as the “supreme leader” of the KMM, who could say that there is no link between PAS and KMM and the terrorist and the criminal acts of bank robbery, arms heists, arson and even assassination of Dr. Joe Fernandez. 

Up to now, the government has not only failed to produce a full report on the KMM, what is most inexplicable and indefensible  is why no one, including Nik Adli, had been charged and tried in court for the various serious offences alleged against them, whether armed robbery, arson, arms heists or murder. 

I cannot but view with great suspicion when the government has to resort to  the Internal Security Act to detain indefinitely persons  without trial, for this can only mean that the government has no evidence which could stand up to scrutiny in a public trial and that the allegations are more political than factual - and I can speak from experience as I had twice been detained under the Internal Security Act - just like many other DAP leaders -  when I had committed no offences whatsoever  under the law. 

The people of Ketari must set three objectives for the Ketari by-election on March 31:  

Firstly, to make clear that although the people support government efforts against terrorism to ensure that the September 11 events cannot happen in Malaysia, this is not a popular mandate of support for the declaration by Mahathir that Malaysia is an Islamic state as this is a violation of the 44-year “social contract” of our forefathers  from the three communities in the  1957 Merdeka Constitution, reaffirmed by the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah in 1963, of Malaysia  as a democratic, secular, multi-religious, tolerant and progressive nation  with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state. 

Secondly, also to make clear that the people’s concerns about 911 is also not a mandate for the “ultimate objective” of the Barisan Nasional national education policy reiterated by Mahahtir in his interview with seven Chinese newspapers on March 14. 

Thirdly, to manifest and promote  the spirit of Lim Fong Seng to spearhead a national movement for  21st Century Charter for comprehensive system of  mother-tongue education  from primary to tertiary level in Malaysia, which for Chinese education in Malaysia, would include the repeal of the “ultimate objective” of the national education policy; uninhibited building of new Chinese primary  schools;  the re-opening of the  original  Damansara Chinese primary school in Petaling Jaya as a “community school” for the pupils in the immediate locality; withdrawal of the  Vision School projects; allow new or re-establishment of   Chinese Independent Secondary Schools in Pahang and the country; government  recognition of Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) of Chinese Independent  Secondary Schools and the establishment of a  university  using Chinese as a medium of instruction.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman