DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to change the government stand on the three big issues of 1984, namely the BMF loans scandal, Bukit China and Papan radioactive waste dump issue especially over two former Prime Ministers’ stand

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the second political course at the DAP Political School held at DAP National Building at Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, on Friday, 28.12.1984 at 8 pm

DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to change the government stand on the three big issues of 1984, namely the BMF loans scandal, Bukit China and Papan radioactive waste dump issue especially over two former Prime Ministers’ stand

The year 1984 is coming to an end. But the three major issues of the year, the BMF loans scandal, the Bukit China issue and the Papan radioactive waste dump issue are still unresolved.

These three issues are of far-reaching consequences transcending the actual issues themselves, for they portend certain trends and developments for the future.

The BMF loans scandal involves not merely the loss of $2.5 billion public funds in Hong Kong, but the whole question as to whether the government is serious in its campaign against corruption, breach of trust and misuse of public funds; and for a open process to handle public scandals fully respecting the principle of accountability to the people.

The Bukit China issue will show whether Malaysia has reached a stage where the sensitivities and rights of the different races, cultures and religious would get lesser and lesser respect, leading to horrendous consequences of aggravation of racial polarisation in the rest of the 1980s and 1990s.

The Papan radioactive waste dump issue will ba a test as to whether the government is prepared to respect the views of the people before taking a decision having grave implications to the health of humans and environment or whether we are going to have a government of increasing bureaucratic arrogance to whom the people’s rights and aspirations count for nothing at all.

I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to be statesmanlike and to change either the Federal or State Government’s stand on these three major issues of 1984, especially as the two former Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn, had publicly added their voice to the people’s aspirations.

In the BMF loans scandal, Tun Hussein said less than three weeks ago that there is an urgent need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the biggest banking and financial scandal in Malaysian History. Tunku Abdul Rahman a week ago had advised the Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Thamby Cik, to leave Bukit China alone, and to respect the sensitivities and sentiments in particular of the Malaysian Chinese who have their ancestors’ graveyards on the hill for centuries. Tunku Abdul Rahman pointed out that there were adequate alternative land for development in Malacca. On Papan radioactive waste dump issue, Tunku Abdul Rahman stressed the need for public consultation and supported the removal of the dump site away from Papan to a site far from human habitation.

During the Constitutional crisis in Malaysia last year, top government Ministers, including the UMNO Youth Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, ahd alleged that there was an “unholy alliance between certain retired politicians and opposition members” which so hurt the Tunku Abdul Rahman, that he was moved to write this most strange paragraph for Bapa Malaysia on Feb. 2, 1984:

“There is no reason for anyone to doubt the honesty, integrity and loyalty of old leaders. We are truly democratic people and and loyal to this country and we consider ourselves privileged to express our opinions when the occasion for it arises. That’s all we did and we are accused of being the enemies of the Government.”

I hope that over the BMF loans scandal, the Bukit China and Papan radioactive waste dump issue, there would not be new allegations from government Ministers of another ‘unholy alliance’ between the DAP and the two former Prime Ministers.

Tunku’s advice should be heeded by the top government Ministers that they should not seek to doubt the ‘honesty, integrity and loyalty’ of those who voice dissent from the current stands and views of the government. Those who disagree from government views are in fact performing a greater act of ‘honesty, integrity and loyalty’ to Malaysia, for they have to pay a price for such stand.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahthir Mohamed, made a very disturbing speech to the Kinta UMNO Division on Christmas Eve, where he warned that the government would not hesitate to take action against those involved in ‘certain issues’ if they persist in stirring racial sentiments.

Although the Prime Minister did not himself spell out these ‘certain issues’, they could only refer to the BMF scandal, Bukit China and Papan radioactive waste dump issue.

Bearing in mind that it was the UMNO leaders themselves who are going round claiming that those who demand a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the BMF loans scandal are motivated by a desire to destroy the Malay political leadership, I do not know whether the Prime Minister has ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs and Special Branch to open up files against these UMNO leaders, which include Cabinet Ministers, for ‘stirring racial sentiments’.

I would caution the Prime Minister not to try to snuff out legitimate dissent of the people by whatever spurious ground or excuse, for such suppression and repression cannot be good for a healthy development for Malaysia, whether in the economic, political or nation-building field.

I would in fact call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to recognise the right of Malaysians to peaceful demonstration.

Malaysians are by and large an apathetic people, and when they are prepared to take the trouble to demonstrate, the government should ask itself what has forced the people to demonstrate. Is it because there is a breakdown of communication between the government and people, or government has become too arrogant to heed the people’s legitimate wishes, forcing the people to demonstrate peacefully in order to get the serious attention of the government? Or is it because the peace-loving Malaysians have suddenly become the new recruits of those who want to subvert and sabotage the progress and development of Malaysia?

The demonstrations at Bukit China and Papan, as well as over socio-economic issues, are in fact desperate pleas by the people to the highest government authorities to heed their rights and sensitivities, and not a challenge to constituted government authority. The government must be big-hearted enough to accept these demonstrations for what they are, instead of trying to exploit them to justify a resort to repressive and high-handed police actions.

It is most disturbing that in recent months, there seems to be a growing attitude of ‘confrontation’ of the government against the people. I would urge Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir to direct all Federal and State Government leaders to eschew such ‘confrontationist’ government, which is characteristised by ultimatums and inflexible government demands, which made governments into the masters of the people when they are in fact the ‘servants’ of the people.