[ Contents | Post ]
Date: 22 Nov 1999
[the-malaysian] The MALAYSIAN 221199
No More Politics of Fear: BN Must Face Issues
On Sunday, 21 November, 1999, the Barisan Alternatif issued a challenge to the Barisan Nasional to join them in renouncing the negative politics of fear and to conduct a clean, principled campaign, based on the issues facing the country at this critical juncture on the eve of the new millennium.
These are the issues of democracy and justice, accountability and transparency, corruption and cronyism, the integrity and independence of the judiciary, press freedom and credibility, public participation and welfare -- and the development of an information and knowledge society able to take its place in the competitive world community of the 21st Century.
The Barisan Alternatif invited Dr Mahathir and the BN to a joint solemn undertaking before the Yang di Pertuan Agong that both sides will fully abide by the people's verdict and that neither side will engage in any violence or dirty politics, such as the abuse of the government machinery, especially public television and radio, or the distribution of doctored photographs.
The Barisan Alternatif invited the Barisan Nasional to jointly seek an audience with the Yang di Pertuan Agong for the purpose of making this solemn pledge. It gave the Barisan Nasional 24-hours to respond to this public invitation. Their failure to respond will be clear proof to the nation as to who desires peace and who, violence.
In the press conference, the Barisan Alternatif affirmed that should the Barisan Nasional chicken out of such a pledge, the Barisan Alternatif will still go ahead to seek an audience before the King to unilaterally make their pledge.
As this important reassurance to the people will not be given any play in the BN-controlled media, The Malaysian is proud to carry the statement in full.
A Challenge To The BN To Renounce The Politics Of Fear
The Barisan Alternatif categorically rejects the lies of the caretaker Prime Minister Dr Mahathir and challenges him and the Barisan Nasional to join us to renounce the politics of fear, to desist from all talk of riots and rioting, and to reassure the people that their verdict will be fully respected, whatever the outcome.
If Dr Mahathir and the BN wishes to win by hook or by crook, then let him so declare his real intentions to the Malaysian people and to the world.
The BA is prepared to stand down to protect the people from the BN's wrath; it would be pointless to contest if the BN intends to practice a scorched-earth policy if it loses -- and we note that Dr Mahathir has defined a loss as the loss of a two-thirds majority!
The Barisan Alternatif has every interest in a free, fair and peaceful election, one that is focused on the momentous issues facing the nation at this critical juncture of its history.
The Barisan Alternatif knows that an election conducted in a climate of fear cannot be a free and fair election. In a climate of fear, the people will not vote in accordance with their real wishes, but give in to blackmail in order to maintain peace, at the price of great suppressed frustration.
Dr Mahathir, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional also know this only too well and have not hesitated to exploit it to the full.
It is for this reason that he, UMNO and the Barisan Nasional have taken great pains to create a climate of fear. They have played up the non-issues of an Islamic state and a non-Malay Prime Minister, knowing all too well that the real issue is the existence of a just and democratic constitutional state, transparent and accountable to the electorate and subject to the rule of law.
In recent days, the whipping up of this climate of fear has reached a fever pitch, with the connivance of the BN-controlled media.
Three times in five days, Mahathir has wickedly alleged that the Barisan Alternatif will riot a few days before polling when the Barisan Alternatif realises it will lose the elections.
This is a revolting lie.
First of all, the Barisan Alternatif fully realises how difficult it will be to win this, or any, elections because of the Barisan Nasional's unfair advantages and dirty tricks. They include the gerrymandering of electoral constituencies, the state of the voter rolls, the use of postal votes, the totally lopsided and downright biased coverage of the BN-owned and controlled media, the completely illegitimate use of the government machinery by a caretaker government to serve party interests, money politics, and so on.
Thus, the BA entered the electoral process fully prepared to fight the good fight, but also fully prepared to lose.
The fact is that opposition parties have lost every general election, but have never ever resorted to violence.
It is the Barisan Nasional that cannot and will not countenance a loss. This is clear from the fact that even a BN win without a two-thirds majority is seen by the BN as a loss.
Secondly, the Barisan Alternatif agrees with Dr Mahathir that the elections are not a popularity contest between the Barisan Alternatif and the BN. Instead, it is a contest between the BN and the people over the issues of corruption and cronyism, of good governance and accountability, of justice and democracy. The people are fed-up to the teeth with the BN's abuse of its power.
The BA is only the instrument for the people to deliver their verdict, either through the denial of the two-thirds majority or an outright win.
However, we realise only too well that the people's frustrations may not translate into votes. The climate of fear being whipped up will cause many to act contrary to their interests and wishes. The voters most likely to be affected by this climate of fear realise full well that the it is not the Barisan Alternatif that is likely to create trouble, but Dr Mahathir and the Barisan Nasional. They know the record. They know what a sore loser Dr Mahathir is, and they know he will go to great lengths to ensure he wins.
The people realise it is not the Barisan Alternatif that is out to create trouble because it is clear to everyone that the BA has nothing to gain, and everything to lose, if there were violence or instability of any kind.
This is clear if we stop to ask:
who controls the police and the army? who can order arrests under the ISA? who can declare an emergency? Yes, it is Dr Mahathir, in abuse of the Constitution and of his powers as the caretaker Prime Minister.
The Barisan Alternatif calls on the people not to give in to the politics of fear and to blackmail. For too long, we have allowed ourselves to be blackmailed, to be bullied into submission to the dictates of one man. Even UMNO has been bullied into submission as is clear from the manner in which the elections were called -- without any consultation with the UMNO Supreme Council.
To further reassure the people, the Barisan Alternatif guarantees that its supporters will neither engage in celebratory mass gatherings or congregate in mourning, win or lose.
Winning, for the BA, will be a most humbling experience. The people will have won and have put a great trust in and responsibility on the BA. We will turn to God in humility and for guidance.
Losing, for the BA, will only be a spur to further work to help the people overcome the politics of fear and blackmail. Ours is a long struggle. We will not give up.
We now issue a challenge to Dr Mahathir and the BN to desist from further attacks on our workers, to categorically declare that they will not make use of the KeADILan tee-shirts they have printed to riot and blame it on us, and to clearly state that they are prepared to accept the loss of the two-thirds majority without resorting to violence to create an emergency and rule by decree.
Consequently, we issue a challenge to Dr Mahathir and the BN to a joint solemn undertaking before the Yang di Pertuan Agong that both sides will fully abide by the people's verdict and that neither side will engage in any violence or dirty politics, such as the abuse of the government machinery, especially public television and radio, or the distribution of doctored photographs.
The Barisan Alternatif invites the Barisan Nasional to jointly seek an audience with the Yang di Pertuan Agong for the purpose of making this solemn pledge. We give the Barisan Nasional 24-hours to respond to this public invitation. Their failure to respond will be clear proof to the nation as to who desires peace and who, violence.