By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday,11th Sept 1985
The statements and speeches by Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and other Gerakan leaders this one week should not be taken seriously
Gerakan leaders including its President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, have suddenly become very vocal and articulate recently. However, the statements and speeches by Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and other Gerakan leaders, as well as the resolutions to be passed Gerakan delegates’ conference in Penang this weekend, should not be taken seriously by Malaysians.
It is not I who is saying this, but the Gerakan theoretician and Gerakan Deputy Agriculture Minister, and one of the aspirants for the post of Penang Chief Minister’s post Dr. Goh Cheng Teik who said this.
On 29th August 1985, when taking part in a panel discussion on the revitalising of the economy and restoring confidence at the Third National Economic Conference in Kuala Lumpur, the Business Times reported that Dr. Goh Cheng Teik advised “Businessmen should not cake seriously everything politicians say but continue with the business of making profits.”
The Business Times quoted Dr. Goh as saying:
“We politicians are in the game and so you (businessmen) should discount a lot of what we say. We often intend what we say for certain audiences, but unfortunately those who should not hear this also came to know about it because of the mass media.”
Clearly, Dr. Goh’s advice to businessmen to take politiciams seriously is meant strictly for businessmen’s ears, but unfortunately, it has now become general knowledge!
Although Dr. Goh was at one time in the rival with Datuk Michael Chen in the contest for power against Dr. Lim Keng Yaik Gerakan. Goh had returned to the Lim Keng Yaik fold, and is now one of the Gerakan President’s principal strategists and advisers.
We must conclude that what Dr. Lim said recently comes within Dr. Goh’s definition of things said by politicians which should not be taken seriously.
There are course reasons enough why Dr. Lim is being so ariculate: Firstly, to try to capitalize on the MCA’s ‘Three Kingdom’ power struggle; and secondly, to present himself in a heroic light in view of the upcoming Gerakan delegates’ conference in Penang this weekend.
Dr. Lim is trying to take a leaf from the MIC President, Datuk Samy Vellu, in making brave noises before the party’s annual conference, although after the, all the ‘brave noises’ would be forgotten altogether.
This is what Datuk Samy did before his MIC national conference, and just like Datuk Samy Vellu Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik would likewise after the conference cleanly forget or backtrack from what he said before the conference.
Before the MIC national conference, Datuk Samy Vellu became an instant ‘hero’ overnight when he criticise discrimination against non—Malays in the civil service on questions of appointments and promotions, and gained greater national admiration when he repeated his criticism although attacked by UMNO Youth leaders.
Always giving credit where credit is due, I publicly praised Datuk Samy Vellu for raising a long—standing grievance in the civil service and a cause of racial polarisation, but I warned Datuk Samy Vellu that as Cabinet Minister he has the duty and responsibility to ensure that the injustice is corrected, and that he was not making a public criticism just to attract popularity for himself for the moment.
My warning proved propbetic, for after the MIC national conference, having presented ,himself before the MIC delegates in a heroic light, Datuk Samy Vellu quickly swallowed his criticism. Meeting the Minister in the Prime Minister s Department, Datuk Mhalil Yaakob, Datuk Samy Vellu declared himself “satisfied” with the recruitment and promotion policies in the civil service.
Why then did Datuk Samy Vellu make the criticism in the first place, if he could be so easily Wsatisfied”? It is significant that Datuk Samy Vallu was unable to see either the Prime MINISTER or the Deputy Prime Minister, on a matter of such vital importance.
Just as Dr. Goh said, Datuk Samy Vallu’s ‘Outbursts’ were not to be taken seriously, and both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister understood Datuk Samy Vallu’s political motive, provided that after the MIC National Conference, Datuk Samy Vellu again ‘toed the line’!
Nothing has changed in the civil service recruitment and promotion policies and practices with regard to non—Malaysia; Only Datuk Samy Vellu has twisted and turned, that is all.
We are now seeing another Samy Vellu’s performance, this time by Dr.Lim Keng Yaik.
On Saturday, Datuk Dr.Lim said the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council should be turned into a policy—making body where the spirit of consultation and consensus can be carried out to its fullest.
After over 10 years in the Barisan Nasional, the Gerakan have just woken up to the fact that the Barisan Nasional Suprme Council is a mere puppet council t rubber—stamp the decisions already taken by the UMNO Supreme Council.
In fact, Datuk Dr.Lim would not have woken up from the political slumber if I had not publicly pointed out, in my statement in Ipoh on August 8, that it as wrong for the Barisan Nasional Suprme Council to meet on August 17 to decide on the MCA crisis, for:
Firstly, this breached the spirit of consensus which is supposed to govern relations among Barisan Nasional members, for this would require ‘consensus’ to agree to the agenda. As MCA never asked the BN Supreme Council to meet on the MCA crisis, the claim of consensus as the basis of BN relations is just an empty one.
Secondly, the incident demonstrated the inequality of the Barisan Nasional component parties, where the UMNO Supreme Council could override the MCA Central Executive Committee in insisting on discussing the internal affairs of a camponent party without its consent;
Thirdly, if the Barisan Nasional is a coalition of equls the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council should be highest policy making body /political more powerful than the UMNO Supreme Council, MCA Central Executive Council, or these of other component Barisan parties. But this had never been the case, as not only in the 40 months since the April l982 general elections, but since over a decade, the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council had never been summoned to decide on major policy matters of political, economic, education, cultural or religious importance, or important issues like the Bukit China question, the illegal Indonesian immigrant, the Papan radioactive waste dump site, the redelineation of parliamentary an state assembly constituencies, the BMF scandal, etc. Every time the BN Supreme Council was summoned, it was to rubber— stamp the decision of the UMNO Supreme Council, as to expel PAS from Barisan in l77 or to expel USNO from Barisan later.
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik must thank me for opening his eyes to the ‘puppet’ position of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council, but I do not take his recent discovery “seriously” bearing in mind Dr. Goh Cheng Teik’s advice!
Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik also tried to do another Samy Vellu by calling for the revamping of the National Unity Board. Yesterday, the Minister in the grime Minister’s Department, Datuk Khalil Yakob, commented that the role of the National Unity Board presently being reviewed. Datuk Dr.Lim should know about this, but yet he wanted to give the public he impression that it was through ‘‘ his call that there was a review. Another ‘play—acting’?
In actual fact, the revamping of the National Unity Board would serve no useful purpose. A one time, there was a full Ministry on National Unity, but it gradually got demoted into a department and subsequently a board! If the government and Gerakan is serious in wanting to tackle the problem of national unity and racial polarisation, there should be a full Ministry of National Unity.
I notice that one of the Gerakan State Conferences had adopted a resolution calling on the government to take firm action against the illegal Indonesian immigrants. This must be another one of Goh Cheng Teik’s products, which is not meant to be taken “seriously’. When Parliament first reconvened after the April 1982 general elections, one of the first things the DAP MPs did was to try to get Parliament to take a serious view of the problem of illegal Indonesian immigrants. In the debate on the Royal Address in October 1982, I moved an amendment to the motion proper calling on the government to take certain measures to counter the problem of illegal Indonesian immigrants But this was rejected by Barisan MPs, including those from the Gerakan. This illustrated vividly Dr.Goh Chenq Teik’s statement that Gerakan’s statements, speeches resolutions and public positions are not meant to be taken “seriously”!