Twenty five years ago, Malaysia witnessed what one person could do to sustain his lust for power. His unabated lust for power unleashed the worst traits in the Barisan Nasional to imprison 106 innocent Malaysians to keep the BN in power.

The man behind this dark episode in our history was none other than Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the fourth prime minister of Malaysia.

On 27 October 1987 the rule of law was discarded, natural justice was ignored, the role of the judiciary was overridden, parliamentary democracy was sidelined so that he could cling on to power at all costs and by all means.

As prime minister, home minister and justice minister, Mahathir rode roughshod so that his position would remain safe and sound and that there would be no one to challenge him.

Today, more than ever, we must remember this shameful part of our history and wonder whether this will be repeated when the results of the 13th general election are announced.

The BN is on a very weak wicket and the possibility of a change in government is very imminent and staring in the face of the BN. Will the sixth prime minister emulate the shameful conduct of Mahathir in order to cling on to power by all means?

When one is addicted to power it is difficult to give it up in the name of democracy. This is the problem with the BN.

As long as Najib refuses to solemnly pledge that there will be a peaceful transfer of power should the opposition secure a win following the 13th general election, Malaysians should remain vigilant and ensure that the victory of the opposition will be by a wide margin.

As long as the margin of victory is respectable, there is hope that democracy will prevail. But if the victory is by a very narrow, flimsy margin, then we must expect the worst to happen.

On this day, it is important for Malaysians to recall that dark episode in our history and pledge to ensure that we will never allow a repeat of that day of infamy. Democracy must never be derailed again.

Let’s remember that only a change in government will prevent this from happening.

P RAMAKRISHNAN is former president and current executive committee member of Aliran.