Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, at the forum on “Racial Polarization” organised by the Australian and New Zealand Graduates Association at Rumah University, University of Malaya on Sunday, 9.11.1986 at 10 am .
Ministers like Anwar Ibrahim and Abdullah Badawi who do not accept the Cabinet decision to put the controversy over the Selangor MCA resolution ‘to rest’ should resign from Cabinet for breach of principle of collective Ministerial responsibility.
The topic of your forum, “Racial Polarisation” , is even more pertinent than when you planned it more than a month ago, as the events of the past week since last Sunday’s MCA Selangor Resolution has highlighted how serious is the problem of racial polarisation in Malaysia.
Although in less than ten months’ time, Malaysia will be celebrating our 30th year of nationhood, our failure in nation-building Could be seen from the ease with which an argument over when each community first came to Malaysia has threatened to undermine inter-racial harmony and relations, with the UMNO leaders, “‘Ps and branches mobilising the Malay masses against the MCA leaders.
There are of course Malaysians who wonder whether all the rhetorics and histrionics in the UMNO-MCA row in the past week, with 46 UMNO MPs demanding the resignation of Datuk Lee Kim Sai as Cabinet Minister or his sacking by the Prime Minister and Datuk Lee Kim Sai’s offer to resign Minister sent to Datuk Dr.Ling Liong Sik but not the Prime Minister, are not part of a it, wider-orchestrated campaign to distract Malaysians from the crisis of confidence, the economic crisis, the numerous scandals like BMF scandal, the Co-operative Finance Scandal, the UMBC and Maminco London tin buying scandals, the Pan EL scandal, and the undemocratic tendencies after the general elections, like the proposed Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill 1986.
But both UMNO and MCA leaders must be warned that here is always a danger of their stage show become real drama’ with what was originally thought by some political leaders as good opportunities to gain political mileage in the run-up to the respective party elections in UMNO and MCA next year, getting out of control and plunging the country into full-scale ethnic confrontation.
After last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, MCA President Datuk Dr.Ling Liong Sik said the MCA=UMNO row over the Selangor MCA resolution had been resolved, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, said the matter should be put to rest as it had been resolved by Cabinet.
But the Cabinet decision seemed to have no effect on 46 UMNO MPs or UMNO Ministers, like Anawr Ibrahim (Minister of Education), Abdullah Badawi (Minister of Defence), who either demanded for Leo him Sai’s resignation or sacking from the Cabinet, or MCA apology or dissociation from the Selangor MCA Resolution.
As the Cabinet has resolve d the Selangor MCA controversy and put it “to rest”, Ministers like Anwar Ibrahim Abdullah Badawi should accept the principal of collective Ministerial responsibility or should resign from the Cabinet if they want to persist in the Selangor MCA Resolution controversy.
The Malaysian people have a right to know what the Cabinet really decided last Wednesday over the MCA Selangor Resolution. Did Datuk Ling Sik and Ghaffar Baba tell the truth when they claim that the Selangor MCA Resolution controversy had been resolved and should be put to rest?
What they said was the Cabinet decision, then the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, should discipline Anwar Ibrahim Abdullah Badawi for breaching Cabinet decision. If there had been no such Cabinet decision to put the issue ‘to rest’, then Datuk Ling Liong Sik and Ghaffar Baba had misrepresented Cabinet decision and should be disciplined in turn.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir, seemed to have lost control of the Barisan Nasional parties, and in particular UMNO, where he could not get them to respect the Cabinet decision.
But is this possible, so soon after what the Prime Minister described as the great landslide Barisan victory in the recent general elections? Or is the Prime Minister also playing a double game?
I find the public stand of the 46 UMNO MPs very significant for two reasons: firstly, this is the first time that I can remember that the UMNO MPs had taken a common public stand, and secondly, it is unthinkable that the UMNO MPs who pride themselves on party discipline, would have only challenged a MCA Minister after the matter is supposed to have been resolved in Cabinet if they did not have tacit support or encouragement of the top UMNO leadership for their actions. The Prime Minister’s meeting with the delegation of the 46 UMNO MPs and the subsequent statements of the other UMNO Ministers, like Anwar Ibrahim, Abdullah Badawi confirm that the 46 UMNO Mps had not acted unilaterally or arbitrarily without the blessing, knowledge or even authority of the top UMNO leadership.
The key question to nation building, and solving racial polarization, is not who is the first bumiputra, second bumiputra or third bumiputra in history, but whether all local-born Malaysians are bumiputras
The UMNO-MCA row seemed to revolve round who is the first community to arrive in Malaysia. I submit the key question to nation building, and to solve racial polarization in Malaysia, is not who is the first bumiputra, second bumiputra or third bumiputra in Malaysian history but whether all local born-Malaysians some for several generations and who will die here, are bumiputras of Malaysia – the sons and daughters of the Malaysian soil.
The UMNO leaders had adroitly and irresponsibly deflected public attention from the most divisive and disintegrative act of dividing Malaysians communities as ‘kaum pendatang’ or ‘kaum asing’. We have therefore the situation that an illegal Indonesian immigrant who had acquired citizenship and blue identity cards by fraudulent means qualified to label sixth or seventh-generation as ‘kaum pendatang’ or ‘kaum asing’. This is the root cause of racial polarization and why the Malaysian nation-building process has failed to make meaningful headway.
The last question I had been described as a elections where racial polarization had been most evident. But it is important to make the distinction between those like Barisan Nasional leaders who claim that the general elections created racial polarization and those like DAP leaders who contend that the general elections merely reflected the grave racial polarization which had been the direct result of divisive nation0building polices of the government.
In fact, the events of the past three months since the August general elections had aggravated racial polarization, for before the Selangor MCA Resolution affair, there as the infamous speech of Datuk Abdullah Ahmad former Deputy Minister and presently UMNO MP for Kok Lanas, about Malay political dominance in Malaysia and the need to extend the New Economic Policy after 1990 as a mechanism of preservation, protection and expansion of Malay political dominance.
The MCA President, Datuk Ling Liong Sik, had described Datuk Abdullah Ahmad’s speech in Singapore as sedition disloyal and treasonable’ but Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh were among the UMNO Ministers who openly defend Datuk Abdullah Ahmad’s speech in Singapore. With the 46 UMNO MBs united in their do and for Datuk Lee Kim Sai’s ‘head’ for the Selangor MCA Resolution, are the 17 MCA MPs and Ministers going to reciprocate with a common united stand to demand for the resignation or expulsion of Anwar Ibrahim and Tengku Razaleigh for their support of Datuk Abdullah Ahmad’s speech in Singapore?
The speeches by UMNO leaders, including the Prime Minister, and delocates at the September UMNO General Assemblies were also highly offensive and provocative and make many Malaysians worry about the state of racial polarization in Malaysia.
Malaysia is now faced with a multiple crisis: crisis of confidence, economic crisis, and the crisis of nation building.
So far the Government has no political will or courage to recognize that the root cause of the crisis of nation building is the government policy or dividing rather than uniting Malaysians. Since the implementation of the New Economic Policy, Malaysians have been daily reminded that they are separated and different: that they are divided into bumiputra regardless of their historic origins and differences.
Because of our diverse history, Malaysians do not have a common past, but we have a common present and future which we must all shape together as sons and daughters of the soil- the bumiputra of Malaysia, which is not defined by race, religion, language, cultural but by our common bond and badge as a Malaysian!