Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in DAP Hg on Tuesday, 27.11.1984 at 12 noon
Lim Kit Siang asks Tan Koon Swan whether he reads the statements issued in his name?
Reading Tan Koon Swan’s statement in today’s press, attacking Neo Yee Pan and Mak Hon Kam as well as myself for not daring to take up his challenge for a Bukit China public debate, I get the very sad feeling that Tan Koon Swan has not even read the statement which had been issued in his name.
This is equivalent to the August 8 confession by Tan Koon Swan that he does not read newspapers and did not know that the Malacca Chief Minister had announced more than two weeks earlier of the government’s plan to forcibly develop 80 per cent of Bukit China.
This is because reading the statement issued in Tan Koon Swan’s name, one gets the image of a person who is very unreasonable, who would stoop to the lowest to distort facts and arguments, as well as a person who is very malicious. It is a very different from Tan Koon Swan own claim that he is an honest politician who does not indulge in personal attacks or twist or distort facts and arguments.
I am not interested in tan Koon Swan statement’s attack on Neo Yee Pan and Mak Hon Kam as this is their MCA power struggle the continuation of but only where it affected me.
Firstly, how could Tan Koon Swan claim to have accepted my challenge to a public debate issued to him on Nov 7 on the subject: That the Tan Koon Swan faction has betrayed the historic, religious, cultural and political rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese over Bukit China for individual and group interests’, and yet insist on changing the topic to four issues which are none of my concern, but merely the playthings in the Neo Yee Pan – Tan Koo Swan MCA power struggle?
Secondly, the Tan Koon Swan statement today accused me of being ‘cunning’ by merely adding the word ‘faction’ after the words ‘Tan Koon Swan’. Now, who is being ‘cunning’? I set out the topic on Nov 7, but I am now accused of being ‘cunning’ by changing the subject matter to try to substitute ‘Tan Koon Swan faction’ to ‘Tan Koon Swan’ after Koon Swan’s public debate press conference on Nov 23!
The Tan Koon Swan statement is not only ‘cunning’, it is in fact telling a lie! It also thinks Malaysians, particular five million Malaysian Chinese are three-year-old children who cannot think for themselves.
I had been asking myself whether Tan Koon Swan is the type of man as reflected by his statement today. I still have my doubts. I don’t know, for he could have changed these few months. But I still give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that the statement put out in his name was issued without his reading and understanding the contents, and merely the work of his ‘cultural assassins’.
The third point made by the Tan Koon Swan statement was that I must have the debate with Koon Swan together with Neo Yee Pan and Mak Hon Kam. This is utter rubbish for as I have said, I do not want to be dragged into the Neo Yee Pan-Tan Koon Swan power struggle, and I would not even consider this proposition. If Neo Yee Pan and Mak Hon Kam want to participate in the public debate, I have no objection for I would have a lot of things to say about the Neo Yee Pan MCA faction, but if they do not want to take part in the public debate, it is none of my business and I am not interested at all.
Up to now, Tan Koon Swan is still shifting and equivocating about the debate, and I call on him to stop trying to distract public attention from the main issues and make his stand clearly to the Malaysian public on the following:
1. Whether he is prepared, as he claimed in his press conference of Nov 23, to accept my challenge to a public debate on “Tan Koon Swan faction has betrayed the historic, religious, cultural and political rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese over Bukit China issue for individual and group interests” which I issued to him on Nov 7.
If Tan Koon Swan claims that he accept my challenge and yet demand that it should be on the four issues which are the playthings of the Neo-Tan MCA power struggle, then Tan Koon Swan is guilty of cheap trick of giving the impression that he is accepting my challenge abort the debate.
Or could it be that when on Nov 23, Tan Koon Swan accepted my Nov 7 challenge to a public debate, he did not know, not having read newspapers, that I had also set out the topic of the public debate?
2. Tan Koon Swan has not been able to explain satisfactorily to the public why he could not devote three hours to debate Bukit China issue, which has such far-reaching consequences for the political, religious, cultural rights of Malaysian Chinese and future generation in a period of three months. Tan Koon Swan said he is free only in February. As my challenge was issued on Nov 7, this means that he is trying to convince the people that his ‘official and personal’ business are so important that he could not find three hours in three months on the public debate on Bukit China.
In his speech to the Selayang ‘Save the Party’ dinner on Sunday night, Tan Koon Swan said that “it is not an easy thing to debate this issue, not as simple as Lim Kit Siang said, as the plan to develop Bukit China is needed, even to harness professional people to collect materials, to plan and draft a concrete and comprehensive public debate materials.
I hope that Tan Koon Swan is not thinking of drafting and preparing a fourth development plan for Bukit China for submission to the Malacca Chief Minister.
When Lion Dance cannot be freely performed, Tan Koon Swan MCA faction wants to mislead the people into believing that the biggest Chinese cultural city could be built outside China on Bukit China.
I am still very surprised that for their own reasons, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction is still trying to mislead the people into supporting the development plans submitted by the faction to the State Government on the development of Bukit China.
At a time when even the lion dances could not be easily freely performed, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction wants to mislead the people into believing that the biggest Chinese cultural city could be built outside China on Bukit China.
I would advise Tan Koon Swan not to be a ‘political refugee’. If he said he accepted my public challenge on Nov 7, then be a gentleman and accept the topic without trying to create new issues to abort the debate. Secondly, have the courage and the sense of responsibility to have the debate before Dec 16, 1984, and not drag out the debate date until it is overtaken by events, as for instance, the return of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction into MCA where one of the conditions could be that there would be no such debate!
Or is Tan Koon Swan prepared to declare publicly that one of the non-negotiable positions of his Tan Koon Swan MCA faction in ‘peace talks’ with the Neo Yee Pan MCA faction is that the Neo MCA faction must accept in toto the Tan faction’s stand on Bukit China, without which the Tan Koon Swan faction would not agree to any compromise formula to resolve the MCA power struggle?
Call on Chinese Community to be vigilant about the re-organisation of the ‘Working Committee to Defend the Development Rights of Bukit China’ of Tan Koon Swan faction.
The press reported today that there has been a reshuffle of the key officials of the ‘Working Committee to Defend the Development Rights of Bukit China’ of the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction, which is headed by Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay.
I call on the entire Chinese community to pay special note to this development, for this signifies that the Tan Koon Swan faction as represented by Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay are prepared to further pursue their collaboration with the Malacca Chief Minister on the forcible development of Bukit China.
Although Chan Teck Chan and Ng Peng Huay have said that they would be making their last ‘public’ statements on Bukit China, it is clear that they would not be making their last ‘actions’, which would now henceforth go underground- at the secret talks and negotiations level.
Tan Koon Swan has said that he has allowed Chan Teck Chan, Ng Peng Huay and the ‘Working Committee to Defend the Development Rights of Bukit China’ to do what they had done because they felt that they were doing right.
By this logic, if Tan Koon Swan becomes MCA President, he would allow MCA MPs to agree to the conversion of Chinese primary schools into national pimary schools if there are MCA MPs who think this is right.
I call on Tan Koon Swan to make his position on the public debate on Bukit China, and to stop beating around the bushes. This is because if I find that Tan Koon Swan has deteriorated into becoming another Chan Teck Chan, I would not want to be involved with a public debate with him at all!