Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the Puchong DAP Branch Committee on Thusday, 22nd August 198 at 8 pm.
Can MCA restore the dignity, self- respect and honour of the Malaysian Chinese by undemocratic, unprincipled illegal and immoral means?
The combinations and permutations in the 18—month old MCA power struggle, leading to three MCA factions and two contending Acting ?A Presidents, really bedazzle the eyes of the beholders.
The events of the last one week, where Mak-Hon Kam.-Tan TiongHong attempted an illegal ‘coup d’ etat’ resulting in the sacking of Neo Yee Pan from the Cabinet, must have surprised Malaysia who thought that the MCA power struggle had plumbed the lowest depths undemocratic, unprincipled, illegal and immoral actions!
All the three MCA factions of Neo Yee Pan, Mak Hon Kam and Tan Koon Swan flow claim that they want to restore the self—respect, dignity and honour of the Malaysian Chinese whom they claim to represent. But the question the MCA leaders of the three warring factions should address themselves is whether the self—respect, dignity and honour of the Malaysian Chinese could be restored by undemocratic, unprincipled, illegal and immoral means, or whether such methods would only plunge the Malaysian Chinese to new depths of loss of self—respect, dignity and honour?
So many things have happened in the MCA crisis in the last one week that the people did not have time to sort out their thoughts, impressions and conclusions.
In the first place, the people were led to believe that the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting on August 17 would evict MCA from the coalition fold. This was the belief fanned by the Tan Koon, Swan MCA faction who actually hoped and had encouraged the UMNO to throw out MCA from Barisan Nasional.
In fact, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction had two contigency plans for the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting of August 17. Firstly, if the MCA is thrown out of Barisan Nasional, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction would form a new political part y to be known as ‘Malaysian Citizens Alliance’ which the faction assured the UMNO would be able to secure the support and confidence of the Malaysian Chinese. In furthering this contingency plan, the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction had sounded out Gerakan and Dr.Lim Keng Yaik, and this is why Dr.Lim Keng Yaik ‘let the cat out of the bag’ in a speech in Ipoh on 15th August that the Gerakan would ‘co-operate and work with the new party to fully represent the Chinese community.’
The other part of the Tan Koon Swan faction contingency plan in the event that the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting of August 17 did not evict MCA from the coalition was to requisition EGM 3.
In the event, what the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction did not provide in their contigency plans happened — there was a revolt in the Neo Yee Pan faction led by Mak Hon Kam and Tan Tiong Hong, which gave the excuse for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to sack Neo Yee Pan from the Cabinet, and the MCA was given three months to solve its crisis.
At first the Tan Koon Swan faction refused to have anything to do with the Mak faction, on the ground that Mak Hon Kam was as unlawful and unprincipled as Neo Yee Pan, but when Tan Koon Swan returned to Malaysia, the whole strategy was changed to enable a axis to be formed between the Mak faction with the Tan faction against the Neo faction. Clearly, such change of heart and wind is not motivated by any high principles, but by self and group vested interests.
The second question pre—occupying the people’s minds is whether the MCA is on the road to restore the dignity, self—respect and honour of the Malaysian Chinese. After the clearly illegal meeting of the Mak Hon Kam—Tan Tiong Hong—sponsored Central Executive Committee meeting at Hotel Hilton On 16th August, Dr. Tan Tiong Hong declared that the meeting believed that the new plan and strategy it had decided would” help restore the integrity and esteem of MCA.”
Can the three MCA factions of Neo, Mak and Tan answer the question whether tie dignity, self—respect and honour of the Malaysian Chinese couldbe restored by undemocratic, unprincipled, illegal and immoral means?
The Mak Hon Kem—Tan Tiong Hong ‘coup d’etat’ at Hotel Hilton on August 16, 1985 is undemocratic, unprincipled, illegal and immoral for the following reasons:
Undemocratic: Although in the Neo-Tan power tussle in MCA, the Neo faction has less grass-rooks support than the Tan faction, the new splinter Mak faction has even less grass—root and popular support than the Neo faction for its unprincipled, illegal and immoral action.
Unprincipled: As late as 10th August, 1985, Mak Hon Kam had declared that ‘there was no necessity for those outside the Party to intervene ad decide on the MCA s future and destiny at the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting” on August 17, but in today’s press, Mak Hon Kam claimed credit for his ‘courageous and positive action’ in seizing power to avert MCA’s expulsion from Barisan Nasional. Where is Mak’s principle?
Illegal : The August 16 meeting of the Central Executive Committee at Hotel Hilton sponsored by Mak Hon Kam and Tan Tiong Hong was clearly illegal on many grounds, including the lack of a quorum of 12 CEC members. Up to now, both Mak Hon Kam and Tan Tiong Hong dare not give the attendance list of the August 16, meeting for this would expose its illegal nature. The procedural aspect of the summoning of the Hotel Hilton CEC meeting was also unlawful.
Here I note that after the illegal CEC meeting at Hotel Hilton on August 16 from 10 a.m to 3.15 p.m., Dr. Tan, when rushing off with Mak Hon Kam after a brief statement about the removal of Neo Yee Pan as Acting MCA President, said that “we have to send something to someone.” On looking back, it would appear that he was rushing off to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to present to him Neo Yee Pan’s head which had just been decapitated at the .Hotel Hilton CEC meeting!
Immoral : The Mak Hon Kam_Tan Tiong Hong attempted ‘coup’ against Neo Yee Pan was immoral because Mak Hon Kam in particular, had been fully associated with Neo Yee Pan in the conflict with Tan Swan faction. In fact, it was because Neo Yee Pan picked Mak Hon Kam, and not Tan Kon Swan, as the No.2 in MCA that sparked off the Neo=Tan power struggle. Mak Hon Kam has forfeited all moral respect and decency in turning against Neo Yee Pan in order to preserve his own power position in the party and government. It was MAK, as Chairman of MCA Disciplina ry Committee, who sacked Tan Koon Swan, and others on March 19, 1984, leading to the Neo- Tan power conflict.
The third question in public mind is who is n managing the MCA. Tan Tiong Hong said yesterday that the Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Ghaffar Baba, was the only functioning committee in the MCA. Is Tan Tiong Hong correct, that the Ad Hoc Committee headed by Ghaffar Baba has even greater powers than the Central Executive Committee of MCA, to become some sort of MCA Super- Committee?
Politically and morally, it is inconceivable that the most powerful decision- making body in MCA, which claims to represent the five million Malaysian Chinese, is a body which is headed by the UMNO Vice President.
Yesterday, after the Ad Hoc Committee Meeting, Ghaffar Baba announced the time table and schedule for the MCA elections at branch, divisional and national levels within 99 days, which provided for membership verification in a mattere of 14 days from August 20 to Sept 2 for substantiation of complaints. All the three Neo, Mak and Tan factions accepted the MCA Headquarters membership list delivered under the High Court Order on January 30, showing about 393.,000 members as the basis for preparing the final list for the party elections.
The Tan Koon Swan MCA faction had made the membership list and phantom members as a ‘uncompromisable’ principle in the power struggle. If the Tan Koon Swan MCA faction had been prepared to agree to accept the Headquarter list as a basis right from the beginning, there would have been no need for the shame of August 17.
In any event, Tan Tiong Hong cannot be right that the Ad Hoc Committee is now the ‘only functioning committee’ relegating all other MCA organs, including the MCA CEC to an irrelevant and redundant position.
In actual fact, the Ad Hoc Committee and its decisions is of dubious legality!
Ad Hoc Committee of Ghaffar Baba and its decisions unlawful and unconstitutional
The Ad Hoc Committee was established as the out- of – court settlement of the two MCA factions on 10th May 1985 at the Supreme Court which provided that it shall have absolute powers to prepare and finalise a list of branches and members as at Dec. 31, 1983 for the committee to:
– Fix dates for free party elections;
– Send out the list to all braches;
– Generally conduct and supervise free party elections; and
– Decide on all matters pertaining to and arising out of the elections
The Ad Hoc Committee undr the chairmanship of Ghaffar Baba fixed the dates for free party elections even before the finalization of the membership list, and this is itself challengeable in the courts as an ultra vires act.
But even more fatal, the out- of- court settlement of the Neo Yee Pan- Tan Koon Swan factions on May 10, 1985 on the Ad Hoc Committee only binds the persons who are directly parties to the suit, namely Tan Koon Swan, Lee Kim Sai, Ling Liong Sik, Kee Yong Wee and Kok Wee Kiat as plaintiffs and Neo Yee Pan, Mak Hon Kam, Chong Hon Nyan, Chin Hon Ngian and Rosemary Chong as defendants, and do not bind any other person.
Futhermore, the out- of – court agreement cannot usurp or deprive the right of MCA members who are not direct parties of the agreement of their rights under the MCA constitution. For instance, a fully-paid up member who joined the MCA in 1984 or 1985 have a clear constitutional right to participate in the MCA elections at all levels, whether as a voter or as a candidate, and he has a right to court injunction to stop all party elections which deny him of such rights.
In fact, I would go so far as to state that members of MCA who are not directly parties of the May 10 put- of- court settlement could even challenge the legality of the Ad Hoc Committee, under the chairmanship of a non- MCA member, to deal with MCA affairs!
All the three MCA factions of the Neo, Mak and Tan camps should explain whether they are bring the self-respect, dignity and honour of the Malaysian Chinese to all- time low with their undemocratic, unprincipled, illegal and immoral actions.