Call on Mahathir to end over two decades of
unfair and undemocratic politicking so that all political parties can
compete on a level playing field as lifting the one-sided ban on public
rallies and ceramahs and stopping the political misuse of RTM channels
by Lim Kit Siang
The two-day visit to Kelantan by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad where he announced a major shake-up of Kelantan UMNO with the
dropping of deputy head Datuk Annuar Musa and three other key office-bearers
and launched a sustained attack on Kelantan PAS Government for its "decade
of decline" in the state marked the opening salvo of UMNO and Barisan
Nasional campaign for the 11th national general election to recapture the
Kelantan state government.
Mahathir's visit to Kelantan highlighted many grave issues about democracy,
accountability and good governance which concern all Malaysians and not just
I will refer to two such issues. Firstly, the continued unfair and undemocratic politicking by UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders, as evident
from the various public rallies held by Mahathir in his two-day visit to
Kelantan and the continued political abuses of RTM which carried biased and
one-sided attacks on the Opposition without any fair sense of electronic
journalism in allowing the right to reply or balanced presentation.
Last week, in the Israeli general election campaign, the Israeli Central
Election Committee head, Judge Mishael Cheshin, cut off the live television
broadcast of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, on the ground that he
was engaged in "political propaganda" in attacking his Opposition.
Could anyone imagine that there would be such a fair, independent and
courageous official in Malaysia, who would brook no nonsense or any
violation with the elementary notions of fair play and justice in political
party politicking, and who would not hesitate to pull the plug of a live
telecast by the Prime Minister for gross abuse of public resources? And if
the answer is, and must be, in the negative, dare Malaysians ask the next
questions: Why not?
As Mahathir was talking about "Kelantan's decade of decline", he should also
address and end Malaysia's over two decades of unfair and undemocratic
politicking so that all political parties can compete on a level playing
field as lifting the one-sided ban on public rallies and ceramahs and
stopping the political misuse of RTM channels and other public resources.
The second issue is about accountability and good governance. Speaking at a
public rally camouflaged as "meet-the-people session" at the Sultan Ismail
College's grounds in Kota Bahru on Wednesday, Mahathir said the world had
recognized Malaysia's development plans as the best, and that the country's
effective and careful approach in dealing with internal problems, including
the recent economic downturn, was admired by many.
He said Malaysia had emerged as the most developed among developing
countries in the world.
This is not correct and Malaysia must yield pride of place to a few other
countries, including South Korea. But is there democratic space and proper
regard for the principles of accountability and good governance to allow for
a public debate as to why Malaysia needs 40 years from 1981 until 2020 to
reach developed nation status when South Korea could achieve this in 15
years starting with lower per capita income.
When Mahathir became Prime Minister of Malaysia in July 1981, Malaysia had a
higher per capita income of US$1,840 than South Korea which lagged behind
with US$1,700. Two decades later, South Korea's per capita income had
increased by leaps and bounds at the annual rate of 9.36 per cent, while
Malaysia lagged behind with a slower growth at 3.96% per annum.
As a result, South Korea's per capita income in 2001 has not only overtaken
that of Malaysia, but is 2.5 times higher. South Korean's per capita income
for 2001 is US$9,400 as compared to Malaysia's per capita income of
From 1981 when Mahathir became Prime Minister, South Korea took 15 years to
become a fully developed nation in 1996 when it joined the OECD although it
had a lower per capita income than Malaysia.
How can Mahathir claim in Kelantan that "Malaysia has emerged as the most
developed among developing countries in the world" when Malaysia cannot
reach fully developed nation status in the 22 years under him as Prime
Minister, and still needs another 17 years until 2020 to achieve this goal
or a period of 40 years from 1981 when South Korea could do it in 15 years
from 1981 with a lower per capita income?
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National