Mahathir, Ong Ka Ting and Hadi the three greatest casualties of the 2004 general election
- at the DAP 2004 General Election Post-Election Conference of DAP MPs, State Assemblymen and candidates
by Lim Kit Siang
(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday): The three greatest casualties of the 2004 general election are none other than the former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and the PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
The unprecedented nine-tenth parliamentary majority victory of the Barisan Nasional was a clear repudiation of the 22-year legacy of the Mahathir administration and a vote for the promise by the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for meaningful and far-reaching changes in his pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, people-oriented, trustworthy administration, prepared to hear the truth from the people and which regards the people and not itself as the “boss”!
It was also a “black eye” for the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, who lost the MCA political supremacy in the Kinta Valley, losing the three parliamentary seats of Ipoh Timor, Ipoh Barat and Batu Gajah, and six of the seven Perak State Assembly seats won by the DAP. Worst of all, Ka Ting’s elder brother, Ong Ka Chuan, was delivered an ignominous defeat by DAP’s “cili padi”, Fong Po Kuan who won with a crushing 7927-vote majority.
Ka Ting and Ka Chuan thought that it was “easy meat” for the MCA National Organising Secretary, Perak MCA State Chairman and four-term Perak State Exco to bully the one-term DAP “cili padi”, claiming that he could win with at least 5,000-vote majority at the beginning of the electoral battle, which kept dwindling to 3,000, 2,500 and 1,500 in the short seven-day campaign – but nobody, including Ka Chuan and his MCA Prersident brother, believed that Ka Chuan could lose and lose so decisively when the ballot boxes were opened and the votes counted!
Making up the trio is Hadi Awang, who must bear the greatest responsibility for the worst electoral defeat ever suffered by PAS in its party history, losing the Terengganu state government; nearly surrendering the PAS Kelantan state power after a three-term 14-year rule although the verdict is not yet out as the PAS Kelantan state government could fall any time with the defection of two Assemblymen destroying its wafer-thin three-seat majority; and the decimation of its parliamentary representation from 27 MPs to 7 MPs.
Although PAS suffered an electoral debacle in terms of parliamentary and state assembly seats, it must be noted that it was able to retain some 15% of the total votes cast as in 1999 – i.e. a total of 1,051,480 parliamentary votes in 2004 or 15.2 per cent of the total votes cast as compared to 997,816 or 15% in 1999.
The DAP did not win big nationally in the 2004 general election as we only won two additional parliamentary seats from 10 in 1999 to 12. However, in the context of a general devastation of the other Opposition parties, as Parti Keadilan Rakyat Malaysia only managed to retain one of its previous five parliamentary seats, DAP’s ability not only to hold our ground but to add two parliamentary seats is most significant.
In the 2004 general election, the silver linings for the DAP’s electoral performance are:
The DAP however also suffered grave setbacks in the recent general election, in particular, one of the biggest blows in the 38-year DAP history - the loss of the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat, which had been held unbroken by the DAP for 35 years since 1969.
The result of the DAP’s defeat in Kota Melaka was met with incredulous belief, whether inside or outside the party, in Malacca or the country, by friends or foes alike – as there was no indication beforehand that the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat had become an indefensible seat and could be lost.
The moving out of the Malacca DAP State Chairman, Sdr. Sim Tong Hin from Kota Melaka from his Bandar Hilir state seat to contest in Ayer Keroh outside the constituency, and the highly-publicised consideration by DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock to contest in Lukut state assembly seat in Negri Sembilan just before nomination day reinforced general party and public perception that the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat was very safe and could not be lost, and the worst that could happen was a reduced majority from the 1999 majority of 9,389 votes.
Sim told me in Muar at the Bentayan and Bakri DAP election thanksgiving dinner in Muar on Friday night that it never occurred to him that the DAP could lose the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat.
This is why DAP leaders, members and supporters in Malacca and the country are devastated by Kerk’s defeat in Kota Melaka – and the party has still to recover from the shock loss to find out the real causes for the defeat and why the party had allowed the Barisan Nasional to mount a fierce, sustained and high-profile political onslaught for the past two to three years to capture the 35-year DAP fortress without any inkling on our part that the parliamentary seat was in danger, requiring an all-out defence not only by state but also by national leaders.
I have called for the fullest, thorough-going and most professional investigation into the causes for the shock loss of the 35-year DAP fortress, the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat, not for any finger-pointing or blame-fixing exercise, but for the party to learn a very expensive political lesson to prevent any such recurrence in future.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor