DAP calls for an All-party Meeting to agree on guidelines to be observed by all so that the Kampong Memali Incident will not become an issue to be exploited in the general elections

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Friday, January 10, 1986 at 12 noon

DAP calls for an All-party Meeting to agree on guidelines to be observed by all so that the Kampong Memali Incident will not become an issue to be exploited in the general elections

Both PAS and UMNO have pledged that they will not exploit the Kampong Memali Incident, where 18 lives were lost, as an issue for the coming general elections, but immediately, both parties have accused each other of breaking their pledges.

Kedah UMNO for instance, has accused the PAS of breaking the promise given by the PAS Deputy President, Haji Fadzil Nor, that PAS would not exploit the Kampong Memali Incident in PAS ceramahs. UMNO leaders allege that the entire PAS ceramah at Kampong Kubang Sepat in Jerlun on Wednesday night dwelt on the Kampong Memali Incident.

UMNO Secretary-General, Datuk Seri Sanusi Junid, has claimed that UMNO would never exploit the Memali Incident during its election campaign, but the Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, announced yesterday that the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Mua Hitam, would be starting a nation-wide tour to explain about the Memali Incident.

Surely, the UMNO leaders are aware that to many in the country, in the absence of an Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Memali Incident, the Government version is merely the UMNO version.

The Kampong Memali Incident is not an UMNO issue, or PAS issue, nor is it a Islamic problem or Malay problem. It is an issue and problem affecting all Malaysians, regardless of party affiliation, race or religion.

For this reason, both PAS and UMNO, as well as the Government, must not use the Memali Incident as a political weapon against the other, but should co-operate with all other political parties and Malayisians to ensure that the Memali incident does not occur.

As a first step, if both PAS and UMNO are genuine in their public stand that they do not want to exploit the Memali Incident as an issue in political ceramahs and for the coming general elections, then the DAP calls for an All-Party Meeting to agree on guidelines to be observed by all parties so that the Kampong Memali Incident will not be a subject of political contention.

Such a guideline and agreement will have to include certain understandings whereby incident like Kampong Memali could be avoided in future.

As PAS and UMNO are both interested parties so to say, in that both have a direct relationship with the Kampong Memali Incident, the DP is prepared to convene and sponsor such a All-Party meeting. I will write to both UMNO and PAS leaders formally making the DAP proposal and offers, which is made in the overall national interest transcending party politics or partisan considerations.

Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said the Government would present a White Paper on the Kampong Memali Incident at the next Parliamentary sitting in March/April. This presupposes that Parliamentary would not be dissolved by then for general elections to be held.

But the question in everybody’s mind is why the Government has different attitude and standards in Memali Incident and the $2.5 billion BMF scandal. The government is prepared to immediately prezent a White Paper on the Memali Incident which happened on Nov. 19, but in the BMF loans scandal, which started over six years ago in 1979, the government is still stone-walling the demand for a full and complete public accounting. The people’s own conclusion cannot be flattering for the Barisan Nasional leaders and parties.
Why is there complete silence from new Labour Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, about what new strategy Cabinet had decided about massive problem of retrenchments?

Before last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, the new MCA Labour Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, told the press that he would be bringing up at his first Cabinet Meeting the grave problem of massive retrenchments in the company.

Trade unions and workers were very impressed by the sense of urgency shown by the new Labour Minister on this long-standing and increasingly serious problem of massive retrenchments, and that the Cabinet would be asked to work out a new strategy to bring new hope to the retrenched workers in Malaysia.

Deputy Labour Minister, Datuk William Lye, said the Labour Ministry had not been idle on the problem of retrenchments, as last month it had set up an ad hoc committee in November to prepare a report on the situation for the Cabinet in the light of massive retrenchments.

I myself had thought that Datuk Lee would be taking the considered proposal and retrenchments of this high-level Labour Ministry committee to the Cabinet last Wednesday, but up to now, there has been complete silence from Datuk Lee Kim Sai as to what the Cabinet had decided to deal with the spate of massive retrenchments.

In actual fact, I must ask Datuk Lee whether he had in the first place raised the problem of retrenchments at the last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, as he had promise earlier?

Datuk Lee must know that the workers, in particular the 1,200 retrenched Atlas workers, want is urgency on his part, not to make promises, but to take action to solve their job problems.

For a start, Datuk Lee should come to Penang to meet the retrenched workers and their union, the electrical Industry Workers Union, to help them find a break-through to get justice from the Atlas management and the Penang States Government, which is a part owner of Atlas.

First Gerakan-MCA joint council will be held at Wisma MCA in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. The real weakness of both Gerakan and MCA could be seen from the fact that DAP’s plan to make Penang its ‘front-line’ state is sufficient to panic the Gerakan and MCA to team up against the DAP. The Penang Gerakan had been hoasting that it could single-handedly dispose of the DAP in Penang, but from the panic clearly evident among Gerakan leaders in Penang and the country, the people can see that they are ‘taking big’ but feeling scared. This is why although Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, showed utter contempt for Tan Koon Swan when he was elected MCA President, predicting that the MCA would be embroiled in the biggest party crisis within 30 days, and that Gerakan was ready to take over MCA’s place and role in Barisan Nasional, Dr. Lim had now to go to Wisma MCA for the MCA-Gerakan Joint Council meeting.

The first item of agenda the MCA-Gerakan Joint Council should discuss on Wednesday is how the Pan El Crisis and Tan Koon Swan’s involvement had undermined the Chinese political and economic position in Malaysia.

In fact, the Joint Council should go further and discuss about the new disclosures about Tan Koon Swan’s involvement with the troubled Hong Kong bank, Ka Wah Bank.

As the Asian Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, many securities industry executives and bankers were already very skeptical about Tan Koon Swan’s financial strength and ability to successfully work out a rescue package for Pan El. This was before reports that Tan Koon Swan is also deeply involves with the Hong Kong Ka Wah Bank crisis.

The Asian Wall Street Journal reported that Ka Wah Bank’s capital and reserves had been wiped out because of the collapse of the Malaysian an Singapore stock market as a result of the Pan El crisis. Ka Wah Bank is a heavy lender to Malaysian-controlled companies, including some linked to Tan Koon Swan, and others for which he stood personal guarantee.

The Journal reported that of loans totaling about HK $2.9 billion, on Ka Wah’s books, more than half went to Malaysian and Singapore interests, involved in share dealing, property trading and the buying and selling of companies.

With the latest Ka Wah development, the Asian Wall Street Journal reported that there is increasing concern that Tan Koon Swan’s Pan El rescue plan will fail.

Since his election as MCA President, Tan Koon Swan had been spending sleepless nights flying between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore not over MCA affairs, but over the Pan El crisis. Now Tan Koon Swan must add Hong Kong to his itinerary, shuttling between the three cities.

Surely, this fantastic state of affairs must be the first concern of the MCA-Gerakan Joint Council, for it directly affects Chinese political and economic position in Malaysia.