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May 20 the most important general election in Sarawak history – to elect principled and committed DAP Assembly representatives to check the worst excesses of Taib Mahmud’s final five years after 25 years as Sarawak Chief Minister
at the DAP election ceramah in Pending constituency in Kuching
This is because Taib Mahmud will be serving his last five years as Sarawak Chief Minister after being at the helm of the state government for 25 years since 1981.
The history of mankind tells us that the last years of a powerful leader can be perilous times for the people unless there are effective checks and balances and Taib Mahmud’s last five years are no exception.
In Taib Mahmud’s last five years as Sarawak Chief Minister, he would brook even less dissent from his own party or component parties in Barisan Nasional. If he says black is white, which SUPP or Barisan Nasional Minister or Assembly representative would dare to contradict him? They will instead be joining in the chorus in declaring that “black is white” – just like the courtiers in the Hans Christian Andersen folklore “Emperor’s New Clothes” who dare not tell the Emperor that he was naked until a little child exclaimed that the Emperor wore nothing at all!
Only DAP Sarawak State Assembly representatives would dare to stand up and speak the truth, as borne by the record of the DAP in the Sarawak State Assembly and the Malaysian Parliament.
We don’t have to go back too long into the history of mankind or very far from Malaysia for an illustration of the perils of the last years of a powerful leader without effective check and balance, as we can find one such example in recent times at home – Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and his last five years as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia.
The scandal of the RM1.1 billion “crooked half-bridge” replacing Malaysia’s half of the Johore-Singapore causeway was one of the “fruits” of Mahathir’s last five years – which if built would have stood as a permanent symbol of shame of Malaysia-Singapore relations although it was proclaimed to be “one of the wonders of the world”.
The “crooked half-bridge” has been cancelled, and rightly for DAP had right from the beginning opposed it, but Mahathir’s grouses are valid - why the Cabinet unanimously agreed to its cancellation when under him, the almost-same Cabinet had agreed to its construction? The reason was simple – no one dared say “No” in Mahathir’s last five years as Prime Minister.
Let me give another example of the perils of a long-serving powerful leader’s last five years in office without proper check-and- balance.
Two days ago, a mob in Penang disrupted a lawful, peaceful and orderly forum to reaffirm the secular basis and supremacy of the Federal Constitution - with the police forcing the premature end of the forum in 20 minutes allowing mob rule to prevail over the rule of law. Instead of taking action against the mob and upholding the constitutional rights of the forum, the Police has rightly come under general condemnation for kowtowing to mob pressure to break up the forum.
What happened in Penang two days ago was the direct result of the “929 Declaration” by Mahathir as Prime Minister on Sept. 29, 2001 that Malaysia was an Islamic State, which was most arbitrary and unconstitutional in going against the secular basis of the Federal Constitution as a plural, democratic and secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic State.
SUPP, MCA and Gerakan Ministers, MPs and Assembly representatives knew at the time that Mahathir’s “929 Declaration” was contrary to the founding nation-building principles, repeatedly reaffirmed publicly by Bapa Malaysia and first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, second Prime Minister, Tun Razak and third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, that Malaysia was conceived as a secular nation and never as an Islamic State, but none of them dared to voice any objection when Mahathir made the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional “929 Declaration”!
During Mahathir’s final years, because of the culture of silence and subservience among the other BN Ministers and elected representatives, corruption, public confidence in the independence of the judiciary, the police and major institutions of the state, reached an all-time low.
This problem is now more serious with the recent outrageous Barisan Nasional directive in Parliament that Barisan Nasional MPs cannot support Opposition motions, whether right or wrong, and that they cannot vote according to conscience!
The voters of Sarawak should ensure that on May 20, they do not lock themselves into a situation where as a result of the “clean sweep” of the Barisan Nasional in the state general election, Taib Mahmud is placed in an all-powerful position in the next five years with the Sarawakians otally at his mercies.
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman