Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on Wednesday, 7th March 1990 during the debate on the Motion of Thanks for the Governor’s Address
Most regrettable that the Gerakan is so desperate about retaining the next government that it had missed and turned the Governor’s Address into a partisan election call
I rise, together with other DAP Assemblymen, to thank the Governor for his Speech at the opening of the Penang State Assembly. This is the second time that I had attended the official opening of the Penang State Assembly, as on the two previous occasions, I was enjoying the hospitality of the Barisan Nasional Government at the Kamunting detention centre.
What I find most regrettable, however, is that the Gerakan had become so desperate about retaining the next government that it had misused the Governor’s Address and turned it into a partisan election call.
At the end of his speech, the Governor said the people “must always be on the alert to preserve the peace, security and stability of our society against the subversive and divisive elements that seek to undermine our nation.”
He also said: “We cannot gamble away all that has been done in the past two decades through unrestrained politicking over issues that will divide our people and undermine the unity of the nation.”
Who are the subversive and divisive elements?
As we know, the Governor’s speech is the Government’s policy speech of the year. For this reason, we must question the Government, who is it referring to when it talked about ‘subversive and divisive elements that undermine our nation’?
We know that the latest group to be regarded as ‘divisive elements that undermine our nation’ by the Barisan Nasional Government are the six eminent Malaysians who formed the Election Watch, namely former Lord President Tun Mohamed Suffian, former Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, former Bar Council Presidents Raja Aziz Addruse and Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy, Aliran President Dr. Chandra Muzaffar and Encik Chooi Mun Sou, who are concerned about the integrity and honesty of the electoral process and whether the next general elections will free, fair, honest and clean.
Are these the people the government is referring to when it mentioned ‘subversive and ‘divisive elements that undermine the nation’?
Is the Gerakan Government also referring to the DAP as ‘subversive and divisive elements that undermine our nation”?
The Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, should be able to remember that before he became Chief Minister in 1969, he and Parti Gerakan were regarded as ‘subversive and divisive elements that undermine the nation’ by his predecessor, Wong Pow Nee. So has Dr. Lim Chong Eu finally completed the full circle, and proved to be no different from his predecessor, Wong Pow Nee?
Nelson Mandela had been regarded as the chief of the ‘subversive and divisive elements that undermine the nation’ in South Africa, and yet out Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed flies to Lusaka to pay him homage as a great freedom frighter!
Very poor taste to drag the Governor into Gerakan’s political survival
All right-thinking Penangites can only regard it as in very poor taste that the Governor should be dragged into the Gerakan’s struggle for political survival. A good example is this paragraph in the Governor’s Speech: “We cannot gamble away all that has been done in the past two decades through unrestrained politicking over issues that will divide our people and undermine the unity of the nation.”
Is the Government so worried about the joint DAP-Semangat 46 ceramah at Dewan Sri Pinang on February 17, where some 25,000 people attended, that it had to insert in the Governor’s Address such a partisan and one-sided political reference?
Gerakan politicking: How to get Lim Chong Eu to retire and go
In actual fact, those guilty of unrestrained politicking today are firstly, the officials of Gerakan, who are politicking not only outside the party but also inside the party.
Undoubtedly, the biggest pre-occupation in Gerakan today is none other than how to get the Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, to retire at latest by next general elections.
This is why the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, came to Penang during the Chinese New Year on 9th February to publicly tell Dr. Lim Chong Eu that it was time for him to relinguish his Chief Ministership as the party had earmarked successors, namely Dr. Goh Cheng Teik and Dr. Koh Tsu Koon.
In case Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’s message that Dr. Lim Chong Eu had overstayed his welcome in Gerakan as Penang Chief Minister was not understood, the Gerakan President publicly humiliated Dr. Lim Chong Eu by declaring that Dr. Lim Chong Eu’s role in Padang Kota could be effectively played by anyone in Penang, including the weakest Gerakan Assemblymen in Penang, Boey Weng Keat.
Dr. Lim Chong Eu no better than Boey Weng Keat
It would appear that Boey Weng Keat has qualified to be the third Gerakan successor to be Gerakan Penang Chief Minister, after Dr. Goh Cheng Teik and Dr. Koh Tsu Koon.
This is why I am surprised that Boey Weng Keat, who could effectively replace Dr. Lim Chong Eu, did not say a single word when he seconded the Motion of Thanks yesterday, as the secondment of the motion is a special honour and an occasion for the Assemblyman to give a policy speech! Boey has created history, as this must be the first time in the history of the Malaysian Parliament and all State Assemblies where the person who seconded the Motion of Thanks did not give a speech.
If a person who could not give a speech when he seconded the Motion of Thanks could be named by the Gerakan President as capable of being equally effective as Dr. Lim Chong Eu, isn’t the message for Dr. Lim Chong Eu to retire and go clear and loud enough?
I agree with Dr. Lim Chong Eu that Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was very brave and courageous on February 9 when he declared that the Gerakan had successors to be the Penang Chief Minister.
Before February 9, 1990, the Gerakan could not find anyone to be the successors to Dr. Lim Chong Eu as Penang Chief Minister. But on February 9, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik suddenly woke up and found that there were successors aplenty, including Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, not to ment Boey Weng Keat.
I do not know Boey Weng Keat. Dr. Lim Chong Eu should know Boey Cheng Keat better, as Boey was his political secretary, and he could probably tell us whether the agrees with Dr. Lim Keng Yaik that Boy Cheng Keat could effectively replace himself whether as Assemblyman for Pandang Kota or as Chief Minister.
Koh Tsu Koon killed the motion to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act
I have nothing against Dr. Goh Cheng Teik and Dr. Koh Tsu Koon personally. I have known both in Parliament previously. I can still remember the one occasion when Dr. Koh Tsu Koon was a Member of Parliament when the DAP tried to move a motion to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to ensure that no Education Minister could convert Chinese and Tamil primary schools into national primary schools.
I had expected support from Dr. Koh Tsu Koon. But this was not forthcoming from Dr. Koh Tsu Koon. Instead, he joined other UMNO and MCA MPs to kill the DAP motion by dragging out parliamentary time on other irrelevant matters so that there was no time for the DAP motion to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act to be debated in Parliament.
I am told that at the Penang Chinese Town Hall Youth forum held on February 23, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon blamed the Kuan Yin Statue Building Committess for agreeing to reduce the height of the Kuan Yin Statue from 118 feet to 85 feet. Everybody knows that the original 118-ft Kuan Yin statue, which had been approved by the Penang Municipal Council, was shortened to 85 feet on the combines pressure of the Federal Government and the Gerakan State Governement.
I am shocked that Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, who should know the full story better than anyone else, should now put the blame on the Kuan Yin Statue Building Committee. Can the Kuan Yin Statue Building Committee explain why they had voluntarily agreed, without pressure, to reduce the 118-ft Kuan Yin statue to 85-feet, when it had been approved by the Penang Municipal Council, now that the Gerakan State Government has publicly stated that it was in no way responsible?
Why did the Kuan Yin Statue Building Committee build a Kuan Yin Statue which is stunted, out of proportion, and shorter by 30 per cent of its originally-approved height when the Gerakan State Government never asked them to agree to reduce the height of the statue in the first place?
I leave it to the people of Penang to decide whether Dr. Koh Tsu Koon was being honest or dishonest when he said at the Penang Chinese Town Hall Youth seminary on February 23 that the Kuan Yin Statue Building Committee must bear full responsibility for deciding to reduce the height of the Kuan Yin statue from 118 ft to 85 ft, and that it had nothing to do with the Gerakan State Government.
Goh Cheng Teik a champion of Dr. Mahathir’s Operation Lalang arrests under ISA of 106 persons
I have nothing against Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, although in the 1986 general elections, he was regarded as unsuitable and unfit to stand for any Penang State Assembly seat in the last general elections by none other than Dr. Lim Chong Eu himself.
Dr. Goh Cheng Teik is acknowledged as a Gerakan scholar, the party ideologue and thinker for Gerakan. This is why what he says and writes in very important, especially as the Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, has given his official blessing to him as one of the successors-designate for Dr. Lim Chong Eu as Penang Chief Minister.
The latest book by Dr. Goh Cheng Teik is entitled “Racial Politics in Malaysia” which he wrote when he was thrown out of the Gerakan leadership.
There is only one thing outstanding about the latest book by Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, and this is his sycophantic praise of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, for launching Operation Lalang and arresting 106 Opposition MPs, Opposition leaders and government critics.
Goh Cheng Teik applauds Dr. Mahathir as a ‘statesman for launching Operation Lalang
Dr. Goh Cheng Teik had no complaints whatsoever against Dr. Mahathir for using the Internal Security Act to arrest 106 Opposition MPs, leaders and government critics or to close down four newspapers. Dr. Goh Cheng Teik praised Dr. Mahathir as a ‘statesman’ for the mass closing the four newspapers in October 1987.
Yet Dr. Koh Tsu Koon told the Penang Chinese Town Hall Youth seminar on February 23 that Gerakan opposed the Operation Lalang arrests. If this is the case, how come Goh Cheng Teik is now named as one of the Gerakan’s official successors to be Penang Chief Minister?
With Goh Cheng Teik’s naming as one of the Gerakan’s official successors to Dr. Lim Chong Eu, it is clear that Gerakan is a champion of Dr. Mahathir’s use of the Internal Security Act during Operation Lalang, the detention without trial of critics of the government, and the closure of the four newspapers, not to mention the other draconian erosion of fundamental democratic freedoms and human rights, as the attack on the Judicary, the sacking of the Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and two Supreme Court judges, Tan Sri Wan Suleiman and Datuk George Seah; the destruction of the principle of the Rule of Law and the Independence of the Judicary; and now the latest attack by the Mahathir government on the Independence of the Election Commission to conduct free, fair, clean and honest general elections.
Susie Teoh judgment is the best proof that DAP will not comprise in our rejection of an Islamic State
If anyone is guilty of over-politicking, it is the Gerakan, which seems to have gone into a panic-stricken state after the mammoth DAP-Semangat 46 Ceramah at Dewan Sri Pinang on February 17.
At the beginning, the DAP was accused of being a chauvinist party. Then when there was a possibility of an opposition co-operation, the Gerakan accused the DAP of betraying the Chinese and the non-Malays, on the ground that we have sold out to PAS and agreed to the establishment of an Islamic State.
The DAP made clear our stand that we will not compromise on our rejection of the Islamic State concept for Malaysia. Last Friday, the DAP was responsible for the Supreme Court judgment on the Susie Teoh case, where the Supreme Court laid down the constitutional principle that no minor below 18 years of age could be converted to Islam without parental knowledge or consent.
No party which supports an Islamic State objective would bring about the Susie Teoh judgment in the Supreme Court. The Susie Teoh judgment is the best proof of the commitment of the DAP to a secular Malaysia and our rejection of an Islamic State.
The MCA and the Gerakan could not establish the constitutional rights of non-Muslim Malaysians to freedom of religion. They could only be jointly responsible for the passage of State Islamic Law Enactments which infringe on the fundamental constitutional rights of non-Muslim parents to unfettered custody, control and guardianship of their children below 18 years of age, and to decide their religion. After surrendering or losing out these fundamental Constitutional rights, t is only the DAP which could regain or restore them, as in the case of the Susie Teoh case, which was fought by DAP lawyers, Gooi Hick Seng and N. Shanmugam.
Finding that it could bot make much headway with its campaign of lies and distortions against the DAP for having sold out to PAS and agreed to an Islamic State, the desperate Gerakan officials have now embarked on a new campaign of lies and falsehoods, accusing the DAP of having sold out the Chinese to the Malays.
In the his address, the Governor said that “in a country like Malaysia, national unity is the fundamental and ultimate objective of nation-building. This is a continuing process that can only be sustained if all our citizens are dully dedicated to uphold the tenets of the Rukunegara. We must constantly nurture the spirit of understanding, goodwill, tolerance and mutual respect for one another as brother-and-sister Malaysians.”
If the Gerakan observes the spirit and practices these values mentioned by the Governor on promoting national unity, Gerakan should welcome the co-operation between the DAP and Parti Semangat 46 as the cornerstone of our co-operation is freedom, justice and unity.
Gerakan is an obstacle to national unity in the 1990s with its campaign of lies and racism
However, this is not the conduct of Gerakan. It is acting as the greatest chauvinist and obstacle to national unity in the 1990s with its campaign of lies and racism. This is because Gerakan, following in the footsteps of MCA, is accusing the DAP of having sold out the rights and interests of the Chinese to the Malays, while UMNO Baru accuses Parti Semangat 46 of having sold out the rights and interests of the Malays, as a result of the DAP-Semangat 46 co-operation.
If in such a DAP-Semangat 46 co-operation, the rights of the Chinese, the Malays and the non-Malays have all been sold out, lock, stock and barrel, who will be left in Malaysia? Can Gerakan tell this House and the people whom the DAP can sell the Chinese to, when Semangat 46 is at the same time selling the Malays?
The most despicable episode is the latest campaign by the Gerakan to accuse me of having sold out the interests and rights of the Chinese in Penang and that I have advocated that the Chinese in Penang should be suppressed.
In fact, I had three days ago publicly exposed the Gerakan plan to launch a million-poster campaign throughout the country accusing me of having sold out Chinese rights and interests, that I am a champion of Malay Special Rights, and that I had accused Dr. Lim Chong Eu in his 20 years as Penang Chief Minister, of having excessively cared for the Chinese resulting in the Malays in Penang being backward.
This is of course a downrights lie, as I had never made my statement that the Lim Chong Eu government had in the past 20 years excessively cared for the Chinese in Penang resulting in the Malays being backward.
Gerakan leaders had in this campaign repeatedly challenged me and tried to provoke me to declare that I do not support Malay Special Rights, so that I would commit a sedition offence, get convicted, jailed and disqualified as a Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman, or even to vote, for five years.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Dr. Kang Eng Seng behind the Gerakan campaign of lies and racism against me,wanting me get me disqualified as a MP and State Assemblyman
This is the whole objective of the Gerakan million-poster campaign. I know who are behind this Gerakan campaign of lies and racism – and they are none other than Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Dr. Kang Eng Seng, the Political Secretary to the Gerakan President, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, hoping to get me disqualified as an MP and State Assemblyman. I do not believe Dr. Lim Chong Eu will go so low to get involved in such a campaign of lies and racism.
It was the Gerakan which in 1971 gave full support for the amendment to the Constitution to entrench four subjects as sensitive issues which could not be questions, and that those who question or challenge these four sensitive issues would be guilty of the offence of sedition with the automatic penalty of disqualification from elective office for five years.
The Gerakan, not only in Penang but throughout the country, are getting so frightened of the DAP-Semangat 46 co-operation that they are thinking of all sorts of unprincipled and despicable tactics to smear the reputation and principles of the DAP leaders. I know, for instance, that Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is emulationg the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, in looking for a safe seat to contest in the next general elections, as his Bruas seat has become a ‘black area’ for him.
The Gerakan is accusing the DAP of betraying our political principles of the past 24 yeats, as if the Gerakan has suddenly become the custodian and defender of the DAP political principles and objectives, when in the past two decades, the Gerakan had been attacking the DAP as virtually the Public Enemy No. One.
Now Gerakan is saying that the DAP had been doing for the past 24 years was right, good for the country, deserves public support, but what we are doing now in co-operating with Semangat 46 is bad, evil and a betrayal and sell-out of the rights of the Chinese and the non-Malays.
I leave it to the people of Penang and Malaysia to judge as to who is being irrational and irresponsible.
I want here to publicly clarify the Watan news report of 15th February 1990, for this is the report which Gerakan is trying to exploit to further its campaign of lies and racism, saying that I have sold out the rights and interests of the Chinese in Penang and Malaysia, just for the sake of power.
Last month, a Watan reporter phoned me up and asked me on the DAP’s stand on Malay special rights. I said that the DAP supports any Government effort to give special priority to the redressal of socio-economic and educational poverty and backwardness among the Malays, just as the DAP holds that it must be the primary duty of any government to give special priority to resolve the socio-economic backwardness and poverty of all non-Malays.
The Watan reporter the n asked my views on the backwardness of the Malays in Penang. I said the DAP is aware of the problem of the poverty and backwardness of the Malays in various sectors in Penang which should be addressed.
I never said that the backwardness and poverty of the Malays in Penang was because of the excessive care and protection of the Chinese by the Lim Chong Eu Government, which the Gerakan has been spreading all over the country recently.
As a result of the telephone conversation with the Watan reporter, the following report was published in Watan on 15th February 1990, under the headline: ‘DAP pertahan Hak Melayu’, with the following leading paragraphs:
“Pulau Pinang: Setiausaha Agung DAP, Encik Lim Kit Siang member jaminan parti itu akan tetap mempertahankan hak-hak keistimewaan orang Melayu sekiranya mereka berkuasa kelak.
“Beliau mengakui kerajaan Gerakan yang ada sekarang gagal memperseimbangkan kedudukan orang Melayu di dalam beberapa sektor yang dikuasai oleh kaum lain.
“DAP sedar akan masalah yang dihadapi oleh orang Melayu yang ketinggalan di dalam beberapa segi di bawah pemerintahan kerajaan yang ada sekarang,’ ktanya.”
The third paragraph quoting me is an accurate quote, but while I agreed that efforts needed to be doubled up to uplift the living standards of the poor Malays, I never placed it in the context that this is the result of non-Malay dominance in other fields, as suggested by the Watan report.
Why should the poverty and backwardness of the poor Malays be seen as the result and caused by non-Malays. There are in Penang both poor Malays and non-Malays. Who then caused their plight?
As I said in public, the DAP accepts the Malaysian Constitution and Article 153 on Malay Special Rights, on the basis that redressal of socio-economic imbalances must be a priority of any good and responsible government. However, the DAP cannot support and agree to the use of the Malay Special Rights provision to continue to exploit the Malay poor to enable a small group of rich, powerful and politically well-connected Malays in UMNO Baru to grow wealthy and become the new rich at the expense of the ordinary rakyat, whether Malays or non-Malays, who continue to suffer in poverty.
Similarly, while Article 153 should be used to uplift Malay poverty and backwardness, the government must not neglect its equally heavy responsibility to uplift non-Malay poverty and backwardness.
I will urge the Gerakan leaders to stop seeing nation building as racial game, but to recognize the common interests and rights of all Malaysians who are poor and backward to be given government priority to seek freedom, justice and equality.
It is clear that the greatest threat to national unity and the biggest culprit to ‘over-politicking’ that the Governor speaks about in his Opening Address, come from Gerakan, just because it is fighting for its political survival, not only in Penang but throughout the country, in the next general elections.
I would only advise Gerakan leaders to accept whatever verdict the people has in store for it in the next general elections with grace, and not to resort to the politics of lies and race just to stay on in power. The interests of the people and nation are always higher than the interests of the Gerakan and its leaders.