Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the Petaling Jaya DAP Branch Committee in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 18th August 1985 at 8.30 p.m.
If Neo Yee Pan had appointed Tan Koon Swan instead of Mak Hon Kam as Acting Deputy MCA President, he may not be sacked from the Cabinet today.
The latest developments in the MCA power struggle and crisis, leading to the sacking of Neo Yee Pan from the Cabinet, the emergence of three factions and two contendinq Acting MCA Presidents, would have made a good video series in the best traditions of the masters of Chinese ‘fighting stories’ like Koo Lon or Kim Yong. This is because the twists and turns, the unsuspected treacheries and betrayals, which made the Chinese ‘fighting stories’ bestsellers are all to be found ir the MCA power—struggle saga. The latest MCA development bring to mind the famous Koo Long saying that’ your best friend is your most terrible enemy!
Unfortunately, the MCA saga is not just entertainment, for it is the political tragedy of the Malaysian Chinese, and marks the total breach of the MCA’s promise of a ‘political breakthrough’ to the Malaysian Chinese 40 months ago in the 1982 general elections.
MCA has long ceased to really matter in political decision— making in Malaysia, but the people, and in particular the Malaysian Chinese, should understand from the MCA power struggle the real political weakness of the community and nation.
Firstly, the MCA is a party, without ideals, principles or noble objectives for the community or nation, The MCA power struggle between the Neo and Tan Koon Swan factions is not over the political rights, interests and future of the Malaysian Chinese, but for power and vested interests. The Tan Koon Swan faction was prepared to even give public support to the Malacca Chief Minister’s proposal to demolish Bukit China Just to get UMNO support in its power struggle with the Neo faction.
Such unprincipled ,power struggle is exposed even more starkly in the latest split in the Neo
Yee Pan faction, resulting in two contending Acting MCA Presidents. Mak Hon Kam and Tan Tiong Hong has led a ‘internal revolution’ against Neo Yee Pan, What is the reason?
It is because Neo Yee Pan is singly responsible for the MCA power struggle. I am not a MCA insider, and only know from what is reported in the press. The sparking point of the MCA power struggle was the expulsion of the Tan Koon Swan faction leaders in March last year. But unlike the earlier MCA mass expulsions of 61 MCA leaders and members which was done by the President himself, then Lee San Choon, in exercise of his presidential powers, the expulsion of the Tan Koon Swan faction leaders was done by the MCA Disciplinary Committee headed by Mak Hon Kam.
How is it possible for Mak Hon Kam to dissociate himself from the root cause of the MCA power struggle when he clearly fully agreed ‘with Neo Yee Pan on the expulsion?
Furthermore, going back further, if Neo Yee Pan when assuming the post of Acting MCA President, had appointed Tan Koon Swan instead of Mak Hon Kam as Acting Deputy president, Neo Yee Pan would probably not end today being ignominously sacked from the Cabinet as a Minister. It could be said that the PA power struggle stemmed from Neo’s backing Mak against Tan Koon Swan.
This is why I say that the latest MCA developments, including the sacking of the MC leader as Cabinet Minister, has brought great shame not only to MCA, but to the entire Malaysian Chinese community!
The second important lesson from the MCA power cris is that the Barisan Nasional is not a coalitionv of equals. If MCA does not hive the power, independence and right to manage its own internal affairs, and to decide who are to be its leaders, it has even less right to influence decision making whether in political, economic, educational, cultural and religious arenas. If the MCA., with four Ministers and six Deputy Ministers – has so little say in the highest decision—making process, then the Gerakan with one Minister and one Deputy Minister is even more impotent!
The socking of Neo Yee Pan as Cabinet Minister raises the question as to why he was expelled. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed, told the press that it was his prerogative to ‘terminate’ Neo’s Ministerial services. When pressed by newsmen, he said that thee were various demands by the Chinese community for the ouster of Neo Yee Pan.
If this is the true reason, then why didn’t the Prime Minister accede or even give serious consideration to the demands and aspirations of the Malaysian Chinese community for an end to NEP injustices and inequalities, a fair allocation of higher education places for all Malaysian students, the immediate halt to the ‘One language, One Culture’ policy, the unfair redelineation of Parliamentary and State Assembly constituencies, or the demand by over 4,000 Chinese guilds, associations for the establishment of Merdeka University?
Was Neo Yee Pan sacked from the Cabinet as part of the plan which included the ‘coup within a coup at Hotel Hilton on 16th August 1985 to topple Neo Yee an as Acting MCA President?
The third important lesson from the MCA power struggle is that the people could place no hope in the MCA. In the April 1982 general elections, the MCA won the biggest landslide victory, and promised the Malaysian Chinese a ‘political breakthrough’. In these forty months the MCA, whether of the Neo, Mak or Tan groups, pot only to restore some of the lost political, economic, educational, cultural rights, but even worse, there was a unprecedented and wide—ranging erosion of more rights!
And now, 40 months later, the MCA, from its split from one into two, and now from one into three, and the public conduct of the leaders of all the three that they could act with utter lack of principles, and basic decency, have brought shame and disgrace but to the Chinese community whom they claim to be party.
They will justify their most unprincipled and immoral actions on the ground of the higher interest of the race. At the beginning of the MCA power struggle, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction attacked the Neo Yee Pan group as leaders without principle or conviction who dare not stand up for Chinese rights and interests inside and outside Cabinet. But as the MCA power struggle dragged on the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction showed that it was prepared to do anything to secure UMNO support to help it to topple the Neo Yee Pan faction, including the Bukit China affair and their encouragement the idea of pushing MCA out of the Barisan Nasional on August 17.
Now the Mak Hon Kam-Tan Tiong Hong faction has started a new ‘plot within a plot’, clearly in close consultation with UMNO leaders s evidenced by Mak and Tan Tiong Hong rushing off to see the Prime Minister after the Hotel Hi1ton ‘coup within a cup’ on August 17. It is indeed strange that Neo Yee Pan, who started o1the target of attacks as failing to uphold the dignity, self—respect and honour of the Malaysian Chinese, seem to have ended up in the latest chapter of the ‘MCA three—kingdoms’ as the upholder of such self—respect, dignity and honour .Who is the next MCA leader to be stabbed in the back, and who is going to do the stabbing?
But while the MCA continues to play its ‘three kingdom’ saga, the rights, interests and future of all Malaysians continue to be ignored and sacrificed!