Task of DAP leaders, including MPs and Assemblymen, to keep alive the flame of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia

Speech by Par1iamentry Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary—General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a lunch given by the Perak State Committee in Ipoh on Saturday, August 10, 1985 at 1pm

Task of DAP leaders, including MPs and Assemblymen, to keep alive the flame of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia

On July 14, 1985, the DAP joined 12 other organisations in adopting a resolution on Parliamentary Democracy in Malaysia which “noted with regret that democratic values and ideals, traditions and institutions, procedures and practices have not grown stronger in the last 25 years. In fact, the entire democratic system remains weak arid feeble.”

The 13 organisations, which were participating in the ALIRAN Dialague of Concern III, also resolved to launch a movement to protect and enhance freedom and justice in our society.

The next day, on July 15, 1985, I moved a motion in Parliament noting the eroasion of the principles practices of parliamentary democracy over the years and called for the establishment of a Parliamentary Select Committee to review the state of Parliamentary Democracy in Malaysia.

Although the Barisan Nasional leadership directed its Members of Parliament to use its overwhelming majority in Parliament to defeat the motion after a two—day debate, the fact remains that all Malaysians must be more concerned and play a more active role in the defence of our parliamentary democracy if we are to check the erosion of our fundamental rights and extend the frontiers of out freedom end rights to a just, equal and democratic society.

The task, of all DAP leaders, including DAP MPs and Assemblymen, is to dedicate themselves to help keep alive the flame of parliamentary democracy in the face of great odds and at the cost of great personal sacrifices

We cannot expect the Barisan Nasional MPs ad Assemblymen to perform this task. For instance, although the Barisan Nasional had a fourth—fifth majority in the Dewan Rakyat, its MPs often could not muster a quorum to allow parliamentary business to be transacted without interruption. This shows that the Barisan Nasional’s four—fifth parliamentary majority has resulted in a more irresponsible and unresponsive Parliament! A Government without too great a parliamentary majority is likely to be more respectful of public opinions and aspirations, for they would not then take their parliamentary majority for granted.

The irresponsibility of Barisan MPs is not confined to Parliament, but outside it as well. For instance, one MCA Mp is awaiting trial on three charges of threatening a deckhand of the Penang Port Commission with a firearm.

Another MCA Mp, Yew Foo Weng (Meng1mbu) made a name for himself in April when he alleged that he was humiliated, abused and manhandled by armed personal in Togo in Africa – where he attended as a member of the Malaysian delegation the Internationa1 Parliamentary Union conference being held there.

But Yew Foo Weng’s allegation became curiouser and curiouser when the leader of the Malaysian delegation, Deputy Education Minister Haji Bujang Ulis and another member Senator Paramjit Singh denied that the Malaysian delegation was neglected or ill—treated.

At last month’s Parliament, I asked the Foreign Minister, Tengku Rithaudeen, wheter the government had investigated into Yew Foo Weng’s complaints of humiliation and manlbandling in Togo and whether the government had protested to the Togo government against such conduct.

This is Tengku Rithaudeen’s reply which I have just received:

“Pada pengetahuan seya, Kementerian Luar Negeri tidak menerima apa—apa aduan mengenai kejadian yang dikatakan berlaku di Lome (Togo), kepada Ahli Parlimen Menglembu, YB Yew Foo Weng, apabila beliau menghadiri persidangan Kesatuan Antara Parlimen disana. Setahu saya, Sekeretariat Kesatuan Antara Parlimen di Kuala Lumpur juga tidak menerima apa—apa aduan.”

Why did Yew Foo Weng, after the sensational publicity in the press about his malteatment and being manhandled, backed out from formally lodging a complaint to the government for redress. If what he Said actually happened, his personal humiliation is a trifling matter compared to the dishonour against the counntry, Unless Yew Foo Weng had himself, by his own action, provoked such maltreatment and manhandling?

MCA crisis — is UMNO the final voice?

In any event, MCA MPs cannot be expected to uphold the dignity and integrity of Parliament or even the nation, when they could not even uphold their own party’s dignity, self—respect and autonomy.

We see MCA Ministers and MPs more interested is furthering internal party feud, to the extent that the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction appears to be egging and eagerly awaiting UMNO intervention. This explains why on the important question as to whether MCA would be asked by UMNO, through the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council , to leave the coalition Until it had sorted out its party crisis, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction is not protesting.

During the MCA party crisis, the Tan Koon Swan faction accused the Neo Yee Pan establishment faction of not standing up against UMNO for the rights, interests, self—respect and dignity of the Malaysian Chinese. Lee Kim Sai, in fact, made himself into a ‘race hero’ by proclamining that the Malaysian Chinese must ‘Restore our Race Pride’.

Based on the public pronouncements of Tan Koon Swan faction, one would have expected the Tan Koon Swan faction to protest louder than even the Neo Yee Pan faction at any hint or suggestion that UMNO intervene in the internal party affairs of the MCA as a great affront to the rase pride and dignity of the Malaysian Chinese. This is because if the MCA docs not have the freedom and right to manage, administer.or determine its own party affairs, what right does it have to decide and determine the future of the Malaysian Chinese?

The Tan Koon Swan MCA faction, is now talking about a ‘EGM 3’. They think they have a good thing going, and should repeat themselves, just like film producers try to repeat box—office hits by having new versions of the same film theme, as ‘Jaws 1’, ‘Jaws 2’, ‘Jaws 3’ or ‘Star Wars 1’‘Star Wars 2’, or ‘Exorcist I’ and ‘Exorcist II’ and now ‘Rambo 1’ ad ‘Rambo 2.’

The people, in particular the Malaysian Chinese, should make it clear to both MCA factions that they are thoroughly fed up with their antics, for in the last 40 months, despite the MCA’s great political breakthrough’ in winning an unprecedented general elections victory, the MCA had allowed the most serious erosion of the people’s rights to take place.

At the early stage of the MCA crisis, the Tan Koon Swan faction claimed that its sole interest was to have a clean membership list where phantoms are rid off, so that fair party elections could be held. But lately, it would appear that the two factions have reversed roles: with the Neo faction wanting to go through with the verification of membership exercise while the Tan faction rejecting the membership verification exercise by accouting firm Peat Marwick & Maxwell. Is the MCA party power struggle between the Nee and Tan factions to be decided by which faction could have the sympathy and ear of the UMNO leaders? Is the UMNO to have the final voice in the MCA power struggle?