Congratulations to Anwar Ibrahim on his decisive win as UMNO Youth Leader but regrets that he had to make a rather extremist speech before UMNO Youth elections

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblymen for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, on Thursday, Sept, 18, 1986:

Congratulations to Anwar Ibrahim on his decisive win as UMNO Youth Leader but regrets that he had to make a rather extremist speech before UMNO Youth elections.

I congratulate Anwar Ibrahim on his decisive 194-vote majority victory over Syed Hamid Albar as UMNO Youth Leader. I regret however that Anwar Ibrahim had to make a rather extremist speech before the UMNO Youth elections, presenting the image that he is more a Malay political leader than a Malaysian political leader.

I do not propose to deal in dept with the various controversial issues and points raised by Anwar Ibrahim in his UMNO Youth Presidential speech, as I prefer to wait until I could deal with all the three major speeches by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk Musa Hitam and Anwar Ibrahim together.

Anwar Ibrahim’s attack on the Chinese newspaper, however, cannot be left unanswered immediately, for it is most irresponsible and undemocratic.

Anwar Ibrahim had reason to be unhappy with the Chinese newspapers, for there had been occasions when the Chinese press reported faithfully extremist statements by Anwar which attracted considerable criticism. On one occasion, Anwar Ibrahim blamed the Chinese newspapers for distorting his speech, but investigations showed that the Chinese newspapers had faithfully translated a Bername report. It is significant that Anwar Ibrahim did not attack the Bernama for distorting his speech.

I would appear that to Anwar Ibrahim, the Bernama, Radio, TV, English and Bahasa Malaysia newspapers can do no wrong, while Chinese newspapers are the ‘villains’ which must be curbed, controlled and censored.

A careful reading of Anwar Ibrahim’s speech shows that he is suggesting strong action against the Chinese newspapers.

Anwar Ibrahim has done the Chinese newspapers a great injustice. What is wrong with the Chinese newspapers performing their duty in reporting the frustrations and dissatisfactions of the people, in particular the non-Malays, about the New Economic Policy. Does Anwar Ibrahim want the Chinese newspapers to publish fiction about the Chinese all in euphoria about the New Economic Policy, how the Chinese communities are clamoring for the NEP to be extended after 1990? If the Chinese newspapers cannot even reflect the thinking and feeling of the Chinese community, then the Chinese newspapers have lost the rationale and right to exist.

I agree that Chinese newspapers, should not just be a mirror of Chinese society, but it should also be a mirror of the larger Malaysian society. This is why Answar’s speech and those of other UMNO leaders had always been given such prominence in the Chinese press. Yet Anwar is still unhappy.

I hope Anwar Ibrahim, who had a reputation as a liberal and a critic of undemocratic and repressive laws, has not become an advocate of press censorship, in particular of the Chinese press.
I would agree with Anwar Ibrahim, however, if he is really concerned about the need to ensure a free and responsible press. Surely, Anwar Ibrahim has still sufficient sense of fair play despite his years in power, to agree that the mass media, in particular radio, television, the Bahasa Malaysia and English newspaper, behaved irresponsible and disgracefully during the recent general elections. Why is there no word of censure from Anwar Ibrahim – the ‘conscience’ in the government?

MCA and Geraken Ministers must have a greater sense of responsibility and urgency to secure Cabinet decision to end the Bank Negara freeze on the 24 co-operatives and implement a government rescue plan.

I call on the MCA and Gerakan Ministers to have a greater sense of responsibility and urgency to secure without any more delay the Cabinet to decide on the rescue plan for the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives and end the Bank Negara freeze on the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives.

KOSATU was frozen on July 23 and the other 23 deposit – taking co-operatives frozen on August 8, and the people were promised that the government would take about a month to come out with a rescue plan i.e. around Sept. 8. But week passed after week, without any positive signs that ‘the end of the tunnel’ is in sight. What is more shocking, the weekly Cabinet meetings passed by without any serious discussion on the co-operatives finance scandal.

Can the MCA and Gerakan Ministers give the 540,000 depositors an assurance that by next Wednesday, Sept.24, the Cabinet will decide on a rescue formula for the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives which is acceptable and fair to the 540,000 depositors?

As I told the Finance Minister, Dzim Zainuddin, when I met him for an hour in his office yesterday, the Bank Negara’s “25:25:50” proposal is completely unacceptable and unfair, for it would tantamount to ask the 540,000 depositors to write-off 50 per cent of their deposits.

If the government can advance $1580 million in 1978 to salvage Bank Rakyat, and $2.5 billion to rescue Bank Bumiputra and BMF in the $2.5 billion BMF scandal, the government has a greater responsibility to ensure that the 540,000 depositors do not suffer any loss.

I had asked Daim Zainuddin to commit $500 million government funds as direct advance to ensure the continued operations of the 24 deposit-taking co-operatives several of which may have to require expert managements to take over their affairs to nurse them back to health. The 24 co-operatives can either operate in their separate individual entities, but if this is not feasible, then they could be merged into a few co-operative banks.