By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, March 16, 1990:
Call on Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, not to resort to threats and warnings but to invite the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikkhism (MCCBCHS) to discuss their legitimate worries and concerns about freedom of religion in Malaysia.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, created Parliamentary history yesterday when he introduced the Election (Amendment) Bill 1990 and gave a second full reply to my speech on the Constitution Amendment Bill 1990 which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat late Wednesday night.
Parliamentary history was made in a further sense when the Prime Minister replied to me for about two hours when I had not spoken, and in fact had no intention to speak, on the Election (Amendment) Bill yesterday.
In his second reply to my Constitution Amendment Bill speech, Dr. Mahathir took the occasion to warn non-Islamic groups in the country “not to play with fire” and to immediately stop their joint signature campaign against the imposition of Islamic laws and programmes on non-Muslims, Dr. Mahathir even said that he would hold them responsible if their actions lead to racial riots.
This is a most unfortunate and uncalled for statement by the Prime Minister. Instead of resorting to threats and warnings, the Prime Minister should have invited the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikkhism (MCCBCHS) to the Prime Minister’s Office for a heart-to-heart talk about their legitimate concerns and fears about the freedom of religion in Malaysia.
The raising of the spectre of ‘racial riots’ is most deplorable, for no sane and rational person in Malaysia wants racial riots. It is clearly not the intention of the MCCBCHS to incite racial riots when they launched a nation-wide signature campaign to appeal to the government not to impose Islamic laws on non-Muslim Malaysian.
The MCCBCHS has come out with a very reasoned and well-documented memorandum setting out the case for their appeal. No one who has read it can accuse them of wanting to incite racial or religious sentiments.
It is most unfortunate that the Prime Minister seems to have been misled into thinking that the intention of the MCCBCHS campaign is to incite racial or religious tensions and riots.
It is a great shame that MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers who should know all about the MCCBCHS campaign and memorandum have not given the Prime Minister the full and true picture.
I hope all the MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers will regard it as their most urgent and immediate responsibility, not only to their own parties, but to the people and country, to let Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir have the full and correct picture of the MCCBCHS campaign, and to convince the Prime Minister that there is completely no basis to relate the MCCBCHS campaign with any talk of ‘racial riots’.
I had two month ago suggested to the MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers that they should raise the MCCBCHS campaign and to act as the MCCBCHS spokesmen in the Cabinet. I do not know whether the MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers had done this, but if they had, they do not seem to have acted as spokesmen for the MCCBCHS.
This is the time for the Prime Minister to meet with the MCCBCHS to discuss their growing concerns about the freedom of all non-Muslim Malaysian to practice and profess their religions.