Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Penang DAP State Committee meeting in Penang on Sunday, 9.12.1984 at 10 am
Call on Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to clarify whether government ‘bagi pehak’ letters are lawful, and if not to issue a directive to all government servants to stop sending out such letters
On Thursday, the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, made the shocking statement that a clerk in 1968 in Malacca State government made a mistake when he replied to a query by the trustees of Bukit China, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple Committee, that as Bukit China was being used for burial purposes, it need not pay quit rent.
On this ground, the Malacca Chief Minister is justifying the State Government’s $2 million quit rent demand for 16 years and ultimatum that it be paid within a month or face forfeiture by the government.
This is the most scandalous explanation that could be given by the Malacca Chief Minister. Although everyone knows that the Malacca Chief Minister is using the $2 million quit rent demand and ultimatum to try to blackmail the Cheng Hoon Teng Trustees to surrender to the government’s Bukit China development plan, the DAP cannot allow the Chief Minister’s scandalous reason to go unchallenged.
At this press conference, the Malacca Chief Minister, when refusing to recognise the legality of the government letter of 1968 stating that the Bukit China need not pay quit rent, said that letter was not signed by the District Officer, but was sent out by a clerk signing on a ‘bagi pehak’ basis. The Chief Minister then made the shocking statement that anyone could sent out a letter claiming to be acting ‘bagi pehak’ for somebody.
With his explanation, the Malacca Chief Minister has created a very grave problem, not only for the people of Malacca but for the whole country. The people have now reason to worry whether letters they receive from government departments over a whole range of questions, like land matters, citizenship, tax, licences, etc. are valid if they are signed ‘bagi pihak’ of some top officer or Minister, or whether these documents could be declared invalid as the Malacca Chief Minister is now doing with regard to the 1968 Malacca State Government letter on Bukit China.
I call on the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to clarify whether the government ‘bagi pihak’ letters are lawful and valid, whether they could be questioned and challenged as to their legality at a later date as is being done by the Malacca Chief Minister. If such ‘bagi pihak’ letters are not legally binding or the government, then the Acting Prime Minister should immediately issue a directive to all Federal and State Government departments to stop issuing such ‘bagi pihak’ letters.
On land matters, for instance, the people must insist that the Chief Minister himself must sign the letters so that there would be no ‘bagi pihak’ letters which could be questioned subsequently.
At the same time, all Malaysians must go through all the government letters that they have received, and check whether they are signed by the lawful authority personally, or on a ‘bagi pihak’ basis by some delegated official. If it is a ‘bagi pihak’ letter, they should write to the government again to seek confirmation by the lawful authority that the ‘bagi pihak’ letter was legally authorised if they are not to be hit by another ‘Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik incident’ later i.e. subsequent government denial of the lawful authority of the ‘bagi pihak’ letter.
For the future, all letters the people receive from government departments which are ‘bagi pihak’ letters should be returned with the demand for confirmation by the lawful authority or Minister concerned that the ‘bagi pihak’ letter was lawfully issued and authorised.
Call on Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs to explain why they had betrayed the rights of the Malaysian Chinese in voting for the new Parliamentary and State Assembly constituencies
Last Thursday, on Dec. 6, Parliament with full support from the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs (with the DAP MPs being the sole opposition) voted to approve the new Parliamentary and State Assembly constituencies prepared by the Elections Commission.
When the Elections Commission earlier this year first made public its proposals on the redelineation of parliamentary and state assembly electoral boundaries, Gerakan and MCA instructed some of its state committees, branches and leaders to criticise the redelineation of constituencies as most unfair, a violation of the ‘one man-one vote’ principle, and even more important, as further diluting the political power of the Chinese and non-Malaysia, aggravating political inequality among the races.
But when the very same proposals on electoral constituency redelineations were presented to Parliament on Thursday for the Parliament’s decision, these same Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs gave full support for it, by voting for its adoption.
If this is not hyporisy, political opportunism and totally unprincipled action, I do not know what is. I call to the people why they had betrayed the political rights of the Malaysian Chinese, which they claim they would champion in Parliament?
What the Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs did on Dec. 6 in Parliament in adopting the new parliamentary and state assembly constituency boundaries would for the next two decades undermine the struggle to regain political equality, economic justice, religious and cultural freedom and educational opportunities for our children, for with political power concentrated more than ever in UMNO hands, the initial voice of the Malaysian Chinese in particular and non-Malays in general have become the weakest in Malaysian political history.
Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs must explain to the people, and in particular the Chinese, why they agreed to erode further the already very weak political power and influence of the Malaysian Chinese in the country for the rest of the 1980s and 1990s?
It is indeed ironic and tragic that during the 1982 general elections, the Gerakan and MCA campaigned on the platform that they are the only parties who could protect nobody has done more than the Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs influence in the rest of 1980s and 1990s.
May be, the Gerakan and MCA prefer to have more parliamentary and state assembly seats where Malay-majorities are increased while Chinese-majorities are reduced, for Gerakan and MCA candidates will then find it easier to win.
It is very sad to see in Parliament on Dec. 6 that not a single Gerakan or MCA Minister or MP dare to stand up to voice the the aspirations of the people for greater political equality and justice.
Before the debate on the new parliamentary and state assembly electoral constituencied, a few MCA and Gerakan MPs were expected to speak to make some mild criticism, although they would definitely vote for the new electoral constituencies as directed by UMNO Big Brother. But when during the debate, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, sat in the Dewan Rakyat after introducing the motion on the new constituencies to listen to the debate, the MCA and Gerakan MPs and nobody dared to stand up to speak. All they could do was to obediently vote in support when called to do so at the end of the debate.
Dec. 6 is a day of shame and disgrace for the Gerakan Ministers and MPs for it is proof taht when very important issues are involved – and in this case, it concerns the political rights and status or the Malaysian Chinese for the next 20 years – Gerakan and MCA cannot be trusted to live up to their election promise to champion the legitimate rights of the Malaysian Chinese. UMNO has full confidence that the Gerakan MCA Ministers and MPs would in the most critical moment, champion the rights of UMNO as evidence by the parliamentary adoption of the new parliamentary and state assembly constituencies.