By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, in Parliament House on Thursday, 23.10.1986:
Call on Penang Chinese Town Hall and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce to convene a meeting of all Penang Chinese guilds, associations and organizations to save the 47-year-old Sing Pin Jih Pao from being snuffed out
I call on the Penang Chinese Town Hall and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce to convene an emergency meeting of all Penang Chinese guilds, associations and organizations to discuss a rescue plan for the 47-year-old Penang-based Chinese daily, Sing Pin Jit Poh, so that it is not snuffed out because of the irresponsibility of Datuk Lim Kheng Khim or the insensitivity of Malayan Banking.
I believe that the united and combined efforts of all Penang Chinese guilds, associations and organizations under the leadership of Penang Chinese Town Hall and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce should have the capability to save Sing Pin Jih Pao, and bring sufficient public and community pressure to bear on Datuk Lim Kheng Khim and Malayan Banking that they must not allow the death sentence on Sing Pin Jih Pao, and the rice bowls of 323 Sing Pin Jih Pao employees, to be executed!
The Penang Chinese Town Hall and the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce claim to be the highest representative bodies of the Penang Chinese society, and this is the task and challenge that they cannot shifk from if they are to bear their responsibility to the Chinese society.
I suggest that in the meeting of all Penang Chinese guilds, associations, and organizations convened by Penang Chinese Town Hall and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the meeting should focus on the role and responsibility of Datuk Lim Kheng Khi, Malayan Banking, the Penang State Government and the Penang Chinese community in the rescue plan for Sing Pin Jih Pao.
At this meeting, an opportunity should also be given to all cross-section of the Penang Chinese society to express their views with regard to what Datuk Lim Kheng Khim, Malayan Banking and the Penang State Government should have done to prevent Sing Pin Jih Pao from closure.
Malayan Banking, in its statement three days ago, said that on April 4, 1986, the Sing Pin Jih Pao’s permit to publish the newspaper had been transferred to another company, Forward Group Sdn. Bhd.
I have caused a check to be made in the Registry of Companies on Forward Group Sdn. Bhd., and these are the particulars found;
Forward Group Sdn. Bhd. was incorporated on 8th March 1982 as a $2 shell company, and was bought over by Datuk Lim Kheng Khim on 30th March 1982, with Datuk Lim Kheng Khim and Lim Hun Beng as the two directors with $1 share holding each.
According to the Return of Allotment of Shares dated 28th March 1986, there were 5,500 shares at $1 each allotted to 11 shareholders with 500 shares per shareholder.
From the Registry of Company records, Forward Group Sdn. Bhd’s 1983 Annual Report of Accounts gave the following as its subsidiary companies:
1. Sing Pin Jih Pao 65.2% 32.7%
2. Sin Chew Press Holdings Sdn. Bhd 100.0%
3. Sin Poh (Star News) Amalgamated Sdn. Bhd 30.0% 70%
Malayan Banking, in its statement, had said that as a result of the newspaper’s publishing permit to forward Group Sdn. Bhd., Sing Pin could not lawfully resume publication. Both Maybank and Datuk Lim Kheng Kim must explain to the concerned public the exact nature of this transfer of the publishing permit to Forward Group Sdn. Bhd. and the motives of such transfer.
If the Penang Chinese Town Hall and Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce convene a meeting of all Penang Chinese guilds, associations and organizations to save the 47-year-old Sing Pin Jih Pao, the DAP pledges full support for its meeting and efforts.
Tan Koon Swan should now resign as MP for Gopeng with some honour left, rather than be forced to resign dishonourably by weight of public and moral pressure.
The top MCA leadership should pay special heed to the Berita Harian editorial today declaring that for the honour of Parliament and the nation, Tan Koon Swan ha no other choice but to resign as MP for Gopeng.
The Berita Harian editorial described the two alternatives mentioned by MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, namely either get the Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Mohamad Zahir to Singapore to swear in Tan Koon Swan or a motion in Parliament to extend time for Tan Koon Swan to take his oath after his two-year jail sentence in Changu Prison, as non-alternatives.
Berita Harian editorial said that there is no reason why a motion to extend time to allow Tan Koon Swan to take his oath should be supported by Parliament, and said:
“Tidak syak lagi usul saperti ini akan menjadi bahan ketawa dan detentang hebat oleh parti pembangkang, yang kini mempunyai suara yang lebih di Parlimen. Kita rasa ahli-ahli Parlimen daripada komponen Barisan Nasional juga akan menentang usul yang memalukan ini.”
I had warned that Tan Koon Swan’s hanging on to the Gopeng parliamentary seat, after he admitted guilty to criminal breach of trust charges in connection with the Pan E1 scandal, which the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed had said at UMNO General Assembly as even more heinous than the BMF scandal, will expose the MCA, the Chinese community, Parliament, the nation to ridicule, contempt and humiliation.
Tan Koon Swan should now resign as MP for Gopeng, and still retain some honour with him, instead of being forced dishonourably to resign as Gopeng MP by weight of public and moral pressure in Malaysia.
As far as I can see, I do not see how Tan Koon Swan can continue as MP for Gopeng, for there is no moral justification whatsoever. The only question is whether Tan Koon Swan is going to resign gracefully and honourably, sparing the MCA, the Chinese community, Parliament and the nation from dishonour, or he would have to be forced by public and moral pressure to resign.
Yesterday’s debate in Parliament on the Securities Industry Amendment Bill, which was tabled because of the Pan E1 crisis, is a good example why it will do the MCA more good for Tan Koon Swan to resign forthwith than to hang on to the Gopeng seat. The MCA Deputy CA Finance Minister, Ng Cheng Kiat, was unable to answer my queries about the Tan Koon Swan role in the Pan E1 scandal which is in fact a MCA scandal that he had to ask his colleague, Datuk Sabarrudin Cik, UMNO Deputy Finance Minister to take over the reply during the final few minutes on the Committee Stage of the Second Rading, – which had never been done before in Parliament. It would appear that it is now left to MIC to defend the honour and dignity of MCA in Parliament. This was why the Deputy MIC Health Minister, Datuk Pathmanathan, objected to my speaking on Tan Koon Swan’s forward contracts in the Pan E1 scandal. This is indeed a great shame and pity for the MCA!