By Dr Mahathir Mohamad
1. Sunday’s Bersih 3 demonstration is no doubt the biggest and the most violent in the series. It is likely that future Bersih will be even bigger and more violent.
2. The stated objective is to demand that elections be cleaner and fairer. But is this the real objective? I think not. Malaysian elections have been more clean than those in the authoritarian countries where results have always been obviously fixed. There would always be 99.9% of the votes going to the Government party or the President. If at all the opposition were to win, it would get at best 10% of the seats contested. After that the opposition would be prevented from taking their places in the legislature.
3. But in Malaysia there has never been an election, whether at State or Federal levels when the opposition had not won a substantial number of seats. In fact whole states may be lost to the opposition. And no matter how the Government party tried, it just could not wrest Kelantan from the opposition.
4. At different elections throughout Independence different states were won by the opposition. Kelantan voted for the opposition in 1964 and 1969. In 1974 when PAS joined the Barisan Nasional, Kelantan was won by BN but continued to remain under PAS. It was lost to the BN only in 1978 but reverted to the opposition in subsequent elections.
5. Penang went to the opposition in 1969. In that election Perak and Selangor could not form Governments as neither the opposition nor the Government party had a clear majority.
6. Sabah was also lost to the opposition in one of the elections.
7. The worst result for the Government Party i.e. the party controlling the Federal Government was in 2008 when BN lost five States and one federal territory.
8. At the Federal level although the Government party never lost, but its majority was not constant. In 1969 it virtually lost, winning with an unworkable majority. In other elections the margin were sometimes above two-thirds and sometimes below two-thirds. In 2008 it won such a slim majority that there was real possibility that it would fall because a significant number of BN members of Parliament were expected to switch to the opposition.
9. The lack of consistency and absence of any pattern in the results of the elections showed that the elections were not fixed or manipulated. There were the usual accusations of foul play from both the Government party and the opposition and some of these went to the courts. The courts also did not show special favour for the Government party through their decision. There was no proven case of Government manipulation or hanky-panky in any of the cases.
10. All indicators point to reasonably fair conduct of the elections by the Election Commission. The Government could not rig or influence the EC.
11. Compare this with the advanced democracies and it would be very clear that the results are quite similar to them. The margins are never extreme one way or another.
12. It is absolutely certain that in the 13th General Election the opposition would win a fair number of seats in the State and Federal elections. Almost certainly Kelantan would go to PAS. There would be great difficulty for BN to win back the States it had lost.
13. So why the demonstrations and the demands for the elections to be clean and fair? Well should the opposition lose in the States or at the Federal levels, then one can safely assume that the opposition will claim that the Government had not conducted the elections fairly, that the Government cheated.
14. There would then be more demonstrations, perhaps bigger and more violent. Demands would be made for new elections to be held, or for the Election Commission to be disbanded and a new Commission set up.
15. Seeing how repeated anti-Government demonstrations have brought down Governments in the Arab countries, Nik Aziz of PAS now declares that over-throwing the Government through demonstration is ‘halal’. Obviously PAS is already contemplating Bersih-type violent demonstrations as a way of seizing power if it loses the 13th General Elections. The country will then suffer from violent demonstrations frequently. This will affect business and growth. Already Nik Aziz considers the present Government as oppressive and dictatorial and it is right to overthrow it.
16. The attention of the world would be sought and the Western Press would be co-opted to paint as black a picture as possible of the people’s opposition to the democratically elected Government. The support of foreign Governments and NGOs would come in as we see in the Arab countries. Their agenda would be different but they would see opportunities for pushing their regime change, for putting their candidate in power as Prime Minister.
17. This possibility is not far-fetched. The average Malaysian always think what happens in other countries will not happen here. But the Bersih 3 demonstration shows it can happen here. We know that almost every demonstration in Malaysia has been organised by Anwar. Now he is teaming up with Nik Aziz. Both see much to be gained by seizing power through unconstitutional means.
18. And when they are in power we can kiss goodbye to peace, stability and economic growth in this beloved country.