by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, June 7, 1986:
Tan Koon Swan’s undertaking in Kluang on parental rights unconvincing unless the Prime Minister could give this undertaking
MCA President, Tan Koon Swan, said in Kluang yesterday that the MCA would take steps to amend the Federal Constitution if the Supreme Court rules that parents do not have a say in the choice of religion of their children.
The MCA President’s undertaking is laughing and most unconvincing. If the MCA could not even get Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act repealed, which only needs a simple majority, who will believe Tan Koon Swan that the MCA could get the Constitution amend, which requires two-third majority.
Who is Tan Koon Swan trying to bluff? Tan Koon Swan should know that his words and the undertakings the MCA are now not worth a cent.
The MCA, of whom Tan Koon Swan was part, promised the Malaysian Chinese a ‘political breakthrough’ in the 1962 general elections. What happened? There was not only no breakthrough, there as unprecedented erosion of the political, economic, educational, cultural and religious rights to the extent that even parent’s rights over their children are being deprived.
Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act is not even one full clause, but only half a clause. The MCA has been unable to get it repealed despite the 25-year demand of the Chinese community. Does Tan Koon Swan really want the people to believe that the MCA is now suddenly so powerful that it could get the Constitution amended?
The MCA President should know that this words and undertakings are particularly suspect nowadays. His involvement in Pan El and Multi-Purpose Holdings scandals have not helped to improve his credibility.
He was supposed to pay $5 million to Multi-Purpose Holdings on May 19 by way of post-dated cheque, in connection with the $23 million of Multi-Purpose Holdings money for the Pan El rescue bid in Singapore last November.
But day after day, the $5 million cheque of Tan Koon Swan could not be banked, because it would have bounced if presented. Finally, a novel solution was found whereby Tan Koon Swan took a $5 million loan from Multi-Purpose to repay this $ million item in the 1985 Accounts.
If Tan Koon Swan could issue a dud cheque of $5million for the Multi-Purpose Holdings, he must be issuing a lot of ‘dud cheques’ to the Malaysian people, in particular the Malaysian Chinese community, about political undertakings.
What Tan Koon Swan should do is to get the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, to give the government’s undertaking that the Malaysian Constitution would be amended to spell out clearly that parents have the inviolable right to determine the religion of their children below 18 years.
I am glad to note that the leaders are now, belatedly, becoming aware of the Susie Teoh type of cases. This was not the first, nor the last, but until it became a nation-wide test case, MCA leaders were completely indifferent and irresponsible when approached. Even now, what are they doing to get the government and authorities to locate the whereabouts of Susie Teoh? Has she been abducted, as hear father believed, and under illegal; confinement in Thailand?