by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Java on Monday, February 13, 1995:
Lim Ah Lek’s outburst is because the DAP has exposed the MCA’s irresponsible tactics over the Tanah Putin land issue
The outburst of the MCA Deputy President, and Minister for Human Resources, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, in Bentong yesterday that I should quit politics does not deserve any comment.
What is interesting is why Lim Ah Lek, who is the most ‘subdued’ of the MCA Ministers, could have been driven to make such an outburst.
The reason is simple, for the DAP had just exposed the irresponsible tactic of the MCA leadership to use the Tanah Putih land issue not to help resolve the problems of the Tanah Putin members and farmers, but to tell lies about the DAP.
In the past few months, the MCA national leadership was very worried about the DAP’ s campaign against Land Acquisition Act abuses and injustices, and in particular the DAP National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices in Kuala Lumpur on January 8, for they also highlighted the failure of the MCA Ministers and the State Executive Councillors to protect the constitutional rights to property of landowners, as well as their right to the development of their own land and to fair compensation.
This was why the MCA national leadership tried to sabotage the National Conference Against Land Acquisition Abuses and Injustices on January 8, by publicly raising the Tanah Putih land issue – accusing the DAP of ‘double-standards’ in not opposing the Land Acquisition Act abuses and injustices of the Kelantan State Government while denouncing the same abuses committed by the Barisan Nasional Government.
The MCA leadership would have a very strong and valid case against the DAP if its allegation is true.
It ha& taken the DAP about one month to finally clear-up the lies of the MCA national leadership about the Tanah Putih land issue.
After my visit to Tanah Putih, Gua Musang on 5th February 1995 with a DAP delegation comprising also DAP MPs and Assemblymen, three matters have finally been established:
* Firstly, that the Tanah Putih land issue is not an issue of Land Acquisition Act abuses and injustices, as the farmers have no legal title to their land and the Kelantan State Government had not acted under the Land Acquisition Act;
* Secondly, that the Tanah Putih farmers had been cultivating the land for a considerable long time, some for as long as 25 years, and that even if they have no legal rights in terms of land title, they are entitled to justice and fair play as they have created socio-economic rights as a result of their long-standing opening and cultivation of Tanah Putih land which must be respected by any State Government; and
* Thirdly, l00 per cent of the Gua Musang Branch Committee of the National Smallholders Association and 98 per cent of the Tanah Putih farmers are MCA members.
I was amazed when during ray visit to Tanah Putih, the Secretary to the Gua Musang Branch of the National Smallholders Association Cheong Tai Onn not only admitted that he was an active MCA Youth leader, but that 100 per cent of his committee and 98 per cent of the Tanah Putih farmers are all in the MCA.
However, I did not hold their MCA membership against them, and when they formally requested my help to take up their case with the Kelantan State Government, I agreed to do so.
MCA leadership betraying the rights and interests of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers just to politicise their land issue without any genuine intention to resolve their problem
This was when I received a second shock. The MCA national leadership panicked when I agreed to fight for the socio-economic rights of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers, and decided to sabotage it by alleging that I was betraying the legal rights and claims of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers by fighting for their socio-economic rights.
The MCA national leadership is betraying the rights and interests of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers just to politicise their land issue without, any genuine intention to resolve their problem, for the MCA national leadership has taken three irresponsible positions:
* 1. Although it claims that the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers have legal rights and claims, the MCA national leadership is not prepared to do anything to vindicate these legal rights and claims, as going to court to uphold them;
* 2. Yet the MCA national leadership does not want the DAP to fight for the socio-economic rights of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers, proclaiming that by doing so, the DAP will be ‘selling-out’ the legal rights and claims of the Tanah Putih MCA member’s and farmers.
* 3. By freezing the land problems of the Tanah Putih MCA members and farmers without any solution, refusing to fight for their legal rights and not allowing the DAP to fight for their socio-economic rights, the MCA national leadership hopes to keep this issue alive as a political weapon against the DAP until the next general elections.
I would advise the MCA national leadership to act with greater responsibility in the Tanah Putih land issue, bearing in mind that 98 per cent of Tanah Putih farmers are MCA members.
If the DAP is prepared to give every assistance to the Tanah Putin farmers, without minding that 98 per cent of them are MCA members, surely the MCA national leadership owes the Tanah Putih farmers an even greater responsibility. Otherwise, what is the use of a MCA membership?