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PETALING JAYA: Like a scene from a Clint Eastwood western, two aging gunfighters are training their pistols on each other in what could be their last political duel.
Responding to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s call on the people of Johor to put Lim Kit Siang’s political career six feet underground, the latter has now thrown a dare to the former premier.
The DAP veteran challenged the patriarch of Umno to contest against him in the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency in the coming 13th general election.
“With Mahathir still so active in Malaysian and in particular Umno politics, I invite him to come to Gelang Patah to contest in the elections and let the people of Johor decide whose political life should be ended, and whether Gelang Patah should be the political ‘kubur’ [grave] for me or him.
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“I am prepared to submit my political life to the people of Gelang Patah, a microcosm of the Malaysian society, comprising some 53% Chinese voters, 33% Malay voters and over 12% Indian voters.
“Is Mahathir prepared to submit his political life to the voters of Gelang Patah?” asked Lim, who added: “I await Mahathir in Gelang Patah.”
After all, the opposition stalwart said, Gelang Patah has always been a fortress for Barisan Nasional with the ruling coalition winning with some 9,000-vote majority in the last polls and a whopping 31,665-vote majority in the 2004 general election.
“By leaving Ipoh Timor [in Perak] which I won with a majority of over 21,000 votes in the 2008 elections to contest in Gelang Patah, I am putting my head on the chopping block.
“With such a history of Gelang Patah election results, Mahathir should be very comfortable to win with a stunning majority in Gelang Patah,” he added.
Lim, who is the incumbent Ipoh Timor MP, decided to take his fight to Johor this time around. The state is regarded as a traditional BN stronghold.
‘Has Mahathir really quit?’
During his speech in Johor last night, Mahathir, who retired as prime minister in 2003, had also criticised his long-time political foe for making the switch with regard to seats.
“If he wants to contest in Penang, Malacca, we can understand but wanting to attack Umno’s fortress in Johor is stupid, doesn’t make sense,” he had said.
“Lim wants to come here (to contest). I urge the people of Johor, all communities should pool their energy to ensure that the state of Johor will be the ‘burial ground’ for Lim’s politics.
“We must ensure that he (Lim) loses in Johor. The state of Johor will continue to become the ‘fixed deposit’ for BN,” added the former premier.
Mahathir had also taken a swipe at Lim for remaining in active politics, saying: “We have changed six prime ministers since independence in 1957, but he has never changed. Give his children or grandchildren a chance.”
Responding to this, Lim asked if Mahathir himself has truly retired from politics.
“In fact, he is more powerful than ever from ‘behind the curtains of power’, with him as busy as when he was prime minister for 22 years, with daily statements or speeches laying the ‘law’ for the Umno/BN leadership.
“Mahathir toppled Abdullah [Ahmad Badawi] as the prime minister after the 2008 general election and has openly threatened to bring down Najib Tun Razak if the latter fails to secure a better general election win than Abdullah in the coming polls,” he said.
According to Lim, it would not be an exaggeration to describe Mahathir as the de facto prime minister.
He added that Mahathir is the person Najib feared the most as the former premier could still decide the latter’s fate.