Mahathir wants to score the greatest Barisan Nasional popular vote and to crush the Opposition in the next general elections

Press Comments by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General at the DAP Chinese New Year Reception held at Wentworth Motel, Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 6th February 1995 at 8 pm

Mahathir wants to score the greatest Barisan Nasional popular vote and to crush the Opposition in the next general elections

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, hopes to score the greatest Barisan Nasional popular vote in the next general elections and to crush the Opposition.

In the 1990 general elections, the Barisan Nasional, under Mahathir, suffered the worst electoral defeat since its formation in 1973, when it received only 52 per cent of the popular vote, as compared to 60.7 per cent in 1974 general elections, 57.2 per cent in 1978, 60.5 per cent in 1982 and 57.6 per cent in 1986.

Mahathir is probably hoping to achieve a new record in Malaysian elections, by securing 65 to 70 per cent of the popular vote, which will establish a new Barisan Nasional record for the highest popular vote secured in a general elections, which was 60.7 per cent in the 1974 general elections – the first general elections fought by the Barisan Nasional.

Barisan Nasional component party leaders are suffused with euphoria for the next general elections, with leaders talking about the ‘unique’ nature of Malaysian democracy and that Malaysia does not need an Opposition.

This must remind Malaysians of the ‘heady’ days when Barisan Nasional was first formed in the early seventies, with Barisan Nasional leaders declaring that an Opposition in Malaysia is both ‘unnecessary’ and an ‘evil’.

The Barisan Nasional’s propaganda seemed to have worked as the Opposition ranks in Parliament were slashed from 47 MPs (16 of whom were from the DAP) in the 1969 general elections to 17 (with nine from the DAP) in the 1974 general elections although the number of parliamentary seats had increased from 144 to 154.

Interestingly enough, the Barisan Nasional general election results in 1974 general elections were aided by two factors: the redelineation of the electoral constituencies in 1974 and the playing of the China and Chinese card, where posters of Tun Razak shaking hands with Mao Tse Tung became the main Barisan Nasional election draw.

Both these factors would be present in the next general elections, and as the next general elections would be held under a new redelineation of electoral constituencies as well as the Barisan Nasional playing the China and Chinese card as in the 1974 general elections.

During the last Chinese New Year, the lion dance scene was banned from appearing on Chinese New Year television advertisements, but this year, there had never been more Chinese language television programmes.

Everybody know that this is all because of the coming general elections, but what will happen after the next general elections?

In the present Chinese New Year, UMNO leaders have outshone MCA and Gerakan leaders by competing with each other in Chinese calligraphy, leaving MCA and Gerakan leaders far behind as they are not even in the ‘running’ – probably because the Chinese calligraphy of MCA and Gerakan leaders may prove to foe even worse than those of UMNO leaders.

If in the next general elections, form is more important than substance, or form is all that is required without substance, then Barisan Nasional will create history as the MCA and Gerakan leaders and candidates will have to depend on UMNO leaders and their Chinese calligraphy to win Chinese votes -instead of vice versa.

I understand that the Barisan Nasional leaders have concluded that the land issue, in particular Land Acqusition Act abuses and injustices, have become a big issue among the people, and the Barisan Nasional leaders will be doing their utmost to neutralise this issue – either by promising to cancel or postpone land acquisitions or a review of the compensation terms.

I will not be surprised if Barisan Nasional leaders even publicly speak out against certain land acquisitions, to create the impression that Barisan Nasional leaders are also opposed to land acquisition abuses and injustices.

However, there is up to now no intention to review and repeal the 1991 Land Acquisition Amendment Act which is the only effective way to have a system of law to check such abuses and injustices.

For electoral purposes, the Barisan Nasional Government can in the next few months promise to cancel or postpone land acquisitions or even to review compensation terms, but after the next general elections, all these promises could be broken.

What is more, if the Opposition is crushed and suffers its biggest electoral debacle in Malaysian history as is planned by the Barisan Nasional – and this is why there are no government plans to lift the ban on public rallies or ensure that there is free and fair mass media access to the Opposition – then the five years after the next general elections are going to be very dark days. This is because there would then be no check whatsoever on land acquisition abuses and injustices or other forms of abuses of power – and whatever land acquisition schemes cancelled or postponed could be revived.

The next general elections could be held as early as next month, with dissolution of Parliament in early March – or it could be delayed until the third quarter of the year. If general elections are not held in March, then there will be another Parliamentary meeting beginning in early April. This April meeting of Parliament will be an official opening by the new Yang di Pertuan Agong.