The elections should not be reduced to such
Voters hold the fate of the nation in their hands. They will decide which party
will lead the nation effectively and efficiently into the next millennium.
The next government must be able to
fully grasp the complexities of modern economics and finance.
Political rights alone have no meaning
if they do not include the right to
development, the right to employment and
the right to move around freely.
Malaysia, unlike some of our neighbours,
has been fortunate. We have come out of
the Asian economic turmoil relatively
But many of us have taken the economic
recovery for granted because there were
no painful experiences such as massive
job cuts, sharp increases in food prices and the closure of banks.
Steering the country out of the economic
turmoil was perhaps the Government's
biggest achievement. For that, we as
voters have to consider whether the Barisan
Nasional has done enough to deserve our
If voters seek a change, they must ask
themselves whether the opposition front
is capable of governing the country. Are
we sure that the component parties, which are diametrically opposed to one another like DAP and PAS, can work together in the government?
As for Parti Keadilan Nasional,
Malaysians must evaluate whether
there is a likelihood of its elected MPs
returning to Umno. If that happens,
where would it leave the non-Malay members if the party becomes defunct like Parti Melayu Semangat 46?
Some of us say that the Opposition will never come to power and that it is all right to vote for them to deny the Barisan its two thirds
majority in Parliament.
No one can dispute the fact that in a
democracy, opposition is needed to
ensure a check and balance of the
But there is a flip side. If every voter adopts this approach, it means that every vote will go to the Opposition.
This happened in Penang during the 1995 elections when Penangites, fearful of a
DAP state government, almost wiped
out the DAP. The reverse may happen if
every vote cast is presumed to check Barisan.
Barisan supporters must not come under
the illusion that the coalition is going
to win anyhow and that whether they turn
out to vote or not is immaterial.
On the contrary, they must turn out to
vote for their candidates to ensure victory.
For the Chinese, their responsibility in this general election is heavier because their votes are regarded as crucial.
They must understand that representation
in the government is vital. In the 1969 elections, the MCA lost ground because
of the community's anti establishment stand.
And because of its dalliance with the
Opposition, the community has lost many important Cabinet portfolios over the years including finance.
Now is certainly not the time to gamble.
Take the case of the Tunku Abdul Rahman
College. It did not come about by
The college has expanded to many states
through the commitment of the MCA and the community. Today, it is offering
degree courses through its twinning programmes with US universities despite its
A vote for an MCA candidate is an
endorsement for the party's work.
Chinese voters must ask whether the
Keadilan, PAS or PRM candidate can work
tirelessly for Chinese education and
They must realise the implications of an Islamic state. It means the end of civil liberties, which the middle-class greatly appreciates. It means the end of their liberal lifestyle.
The fact that Keadilan keeps emphasising
that it is contesting more seats than
PAS is an indication that it, too, is wary of PAS.
Election Commission records show 63
Keadilan parliamentary candidates
against 59 from PAS while at state
level, PAS has 235 contenders and
The opposition threat is very real
because Barisan candidates cannot depend
on the Malay vote this time round. If
the non-Malays, too, wish to vote for change,
talk of a new government is no
For the silent majority, it is time to
speak up through the ballot and decide whether they want to see scenes of violent street protests again.
The criteria for deciding who to vote
for should be whether the party they
pick can ensure continuity, peace and harmony for the nation. In the end, it is not about a picture, an advertisement or a personality but you and your family's future.