Dr. Mahathir should have sense of urgency to summon early Parliamentary meeting to address the many pressing problems in the country

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjong and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Tuesday, August 12, 1986 at noon

Dr. Mahathir should have sense of urgency to summon early Parliamentary meeting to address the many pressing problems in the country

When announcing his post-1986 elections Cabinet, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said that Parliament could meet anytime from now to November.

Under the Malaysian Constitution, the new Parliament must meet within 120 days of the dissolution of the previous Parliament, I. e. latest by November 19, as the Sixth Parliament was dissolved on July 19.

However, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir should have a sense of urgency to summon early Parliamentary meeting to address the many pressing problems in the country.

The crisis of confidence which enshrouded the country before and during the 1986 general elections has not been satisfactorily resolved with the 1986 general elections. In many ways, this crisis of confidence had deepened further.

If Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had in fact achieved a real landslide victory, both in terms of parliamentary seats and popular votes, the stock market should have bounced back on the upturn. Instead, the stock market was lukewarm at best and had even nosedived after the August 3 elections.

The new Mahathir Cabinet is not very impressive, and is downright disappointing in many respects.

Firstly, the new Cabinet mark the major setback of the Musa forces in UMNO, with the Musa stalwart, Ajib Adam, dropped from Cabinet, while another Musa strongman, Sharir Samed demoted from Federal Territory Minister to Welfare Minister.

The most significant UMNO appointments is Megat Junid’s appointments as Deputy Home Affairs Minister, as it signified the heavy-weight role this Mahathir confidante would be playing in the new Mahathir government.

The MCA’s three Ministerial appointments is a reduction of one from the previous four MCA Cabinet posts. Although the Prime Minister has indicated that one more Cabinet post would be reserved for MCA, it reflects badly on MCA leadership that it could not immediately take up all the four Ministerial appointments.

Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had quipped yesterday that the Justice Ministry may be reserved for MCA President, Tan Koon Swan. With 15 criminal breach of trust, fraud and cheating charges in Singapore, in connection with Pan El, and freed on the world record bail of $ 40 million, Tan Koon Swan is the most unqualified politician in the country to become Justice Minister.

If Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir meant it as a joke, it is a bad and sick joke. If he meant it seriously, it would be a shame and scandal in the Malaysian political arena.

I note that Ghaffar Baba has been given an additional Housing Ministry apart from his Deputy Premiership and Ministry of National and Rural Development. For the first time, there is not a single Chinese in the Housing Ministry.

Is the Prime Minister unaware that housing and in particular low-cost housing is one of the greatest problems faced by the Chinese Community? Or has Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir come to the view that the MCA, which had traditionally held this portfolio, had proved beyond a shadow of doubt as utterly incapable and incompetent to carry out the duties of Housing Minister as they have absolutely nothing to show all these years?

It is shocking that two Deputy Ministers and one Parliamentary Secretaries from the MCA are among those in the list of directors of 23 deposit-taking co-operatives whose assets had been frozen and passports impounded, following the Bank Negara action.

It is most inappropriate to appoint Ng Cheng Kiat as Deputy Finance Minister, one of those who assets are frozen and passport impounded because he was a director of one of the 23 co-operative concerned. Bank Negara comes directly under the Ministry of Finance, and it gives rise to two implications:

(1) Will Bank Negara be allowed to carry out the investigations into the 23 deposit-taking co-operatives which involved Ng Cheng Kiat in one of them,, without fear or favour, or would Bank Negara be obstructed from its duties as happened in the BMF scandal as revealed by the Ahmad Nordin Inquiry Committee Report;

(2) Is Ng Cheng Kiat’s appointment, as well as the appointment of Wang Choon Wing, Deputy MCA Minister for Culture, Youth and Sports, and Teng Gaik Kwan, Parliamentary Secretary to Ministry of Health (both of whom are among the directors of co-operatives under investigation) an indication from the Prime Minister himself that these three are in the clear-even before the conclusion of Bank Negara investigation?

If the Prime Minister must appoint these three MCA leaders in the Cabinet, he should have kept their posts in abeyance until Bank Negara investigations have cleared them completely.

During the 1986 general elections, corruption, nepotism and conflict of interest in high political places, as well as the host of scandals, was one of the main election issues. The least I would expect from Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir is that he would scrupulously avoid any future conflict-of-interest situations in Ministerial appointments. Is his action an indication that he has even greater contempt for public opinion than before the general elections on August 3?

Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has at last fulfilled his 12-year dream to return to the Cabinet, by ditching Paul Leong as Primary Industries Minister.

Dr. Lim said that after the August 3 results that with the DAP’s improved performance, the Chinese influence in government has been eroded. I want to ask Dr. Lim why he wants to be a Minister if he feels that a Chinese Minister could have no voice or little influence in Cabinet after the August 3 election result?

Is this another example that all Dr. Lim is interested in is to regain the perks, privileges and pay of Ministerial office, although without real Cabinet influence or power?

Alex Lee has also displaced Goh Cheng Teik as Deputy Agriculture Minister. As a result of the DAP’s public opposition to Alex Lee’s speculated appointment as Deputy Finance Minister, Alex Lee has not joined his former corporate pal, Daim Zainuddin, to commandeer the Treasury. However, the DAP will still insist that Alex Lee give a full explanation about the Bank Negara inspection of the Development and Commercial Bank in 1984, when he was General Manager, and the Bank Negara’s most unsatisfactory report on him.

Sabah has got a raw deal in Cabinet

Sabah has got a raw deal in the new Cabinet line-up. The request of the PBS Chief Minister, Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, for three Ministers and three Deputy Ministers from Sabah was not only rejected, Sabah has ended with fewer Cabinet representatives than before. Sabah previously had one Minister and three Deputy Ministers, which have been reduced to one Minister and one Deputy Minister.

Advance Congratulations to Dr. Lim Chong Eu an his reappointment as Penang Chief Minister

It is reported that Dr. Lim Chong Eu and his re-appointment as Penang Chief Minister and would be sworn in before the Penang Yang di-Pertuan tomorrow.

I extend to him my and my party’s advance congratulations and hope that he would serve his full term as Chief Minister, and set the example in Malaysian legislative history where the government is prepared to fully co-operate with the Opposition for the benefit and welfare of the people.

The DAP will support Dr. Lim in all measures which are good for the people, but we are not giving him a belch cheque for we would then be failing the people. Where we disagree with Dr. Lim, we will speak out firmly without fear or favour.

DAP calls on Bank Negara to vary the assets freeze order for 23 deposit-taking co-operatives to allow salaries to be paid to staff of co-operatives

It was reported that more than 100 employees of about 300 co-operatives society branches in Kedah and Perlis could not withdraw money from their savings accounts and their salaries are also frozen.

I call on Bank Negara to be flexible, and immediately to vary the assets freeze order for 23 deposit taking co-operative societies to allow the staff of the co-operatives to be paid their salaries – as distinct from the allowances, perks and salaries of the directors.

KOMUDA has said they want to send a delegation to meet me to let know about the real situation in their co-operative finance branches, I am prepared to meet the KOMUDA delegation any time, but it must be a delegation with full authority and knowledge to explain and answer any questions that I have about its operations.

I am even prepared to meet former MCA Deputy Minister and MCA Youth Leader, Kee Yong Wee, who heads KOMUDA.