Press Conference Statement (3) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Monday, 30th April 1990 at 11 a.m.
Mahathir’s interview with Chinese press last month is best rebuttal to Ghafar’s allegation that the Opposition had never given constructive views beneficial to the people
I want to rebut the allegation by the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, in Jasin, Malacca, yesterday that the Opposition in Malaysia had never given constructive views beneficial to the people.
With the approach of the general elections, there will be a tendency on the part of the Barisan Nasional Ministers to paint black and bleak picture of the role of the Opposition in Malaysia.
In fact, the Opposition in Malaysia, especially the DAP, has been one of the major causes for the stability in the country. the collapse of East European communist regimes is a classic lesson that authoritarian governments are not the surest recipe for national stability.
The people of East European countries are now struggling to ensure that there is democracy and political pluralism. In Malaysia, the Democratic Action Party had dedicated over two decades to keep democracy and political pluralism alive.
I will rate this as the greatest contribution of the DAP to Malaysian politics and nation-building.
Ghafar’s all-out condemnation of the Opposition as all-evil and all-useless is a very extremist view. I am glad that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamed, does not share his view.
In an interview with the Chinese press last month, Dr. Mahathir paid tribute to the Opposition by saying that the reason the Barisan Nasional could govern the country so well was because of the contribution of the Opposition in their continuing criticisms.
Dr. Mahathir also said that he had sincerely told me that if I had not frequently criticised the government, although in a manner difficult to be accepted by others at times, the government would have adopted a very arrogant attitude.
I confirm that Dr. Mahathir told me this when I met him after my release from Internal Security Act detention at Kamunting Detention Centre in April last year.
Dr. Mahathir’s own statement would be the best rebuttal to Ghafar’s extremist view on the utterly useless and destructive role of the Opposition in Malaysia.
DAP cannot help in an international campaign to rebut international allegations of Malaysia’s ‘push-back’ policy on Vietnamese boat-people unless we have the full facts
I get the impression that the Malaysian Government was not at all pleased at the DAP’s offer to help in an international campaign to counter international criticisms and allegations that Malaysia had violated international refugee agreements and had for the past year, pushed back over 5,000 Vietnamese boat people to sea by refusing to allow them to land and grant them first asylum.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Datuk Dr. Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan, said yesterday that the DAP should not issue statements “but should be seen to be actually helping”.
He said: “The DAP leaders do go all over the world meeting various leaders and members of the press.
“If they are truly Malaysian, this is the time for them to go all out to counter the allegations which are baseless.
“They should make use of these forums to refute the baseless allegations against the country.”
Let me reiterate the DAP’s offer to help the Malaysian Government in an international campaign to counter international criticisms and allegations that Malaysia had violated international refugee agreements in adopting a Vietnamese boatpeople ‘pushback’ policy. But let me also make it very clear that the DAP cannot be of any help unless we are given the full facts.
If Malaysian Government cannot convince DAP leaders who have offered to help, how can they convince the international community?
Surely, the Deputy Foreign Minister does not expect the DAP, or for that matter, any right-thinking and self-respecting Malaysian to deny and denounce any and every international allegation and criticism as untrue, especially when they are documented and specific, as in the statements by the U.S. Government, the United Nations High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR), U.S. Committee for refugees and Refugees International that over 5,000 Vietnamese boatpeople had been pushed back to sea by Malaysian authorities since last May, and that at least four had died and hundreds missing?
If the Malaysian government cannot convince DAP leaders, who have offered to help in an international campaign to counter such international criticisms and allegations to protect Malaysia’s trade and tourism interest, how can Malaysia convince the international community?
The reaction of Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba, to the DAP offer to help in an international campaign is even more startling. Ghafar alleged that international criticisms were based on the accusations by the Opposition against the government, and what was needed was for the Opposition to be fair to stop slandering the government – for then the foreigners would stop their baseless allegations against Malaysia.
Let me remind the Deputy Prime Minister that the international criticisms and allegations against Malaysia’s ‘push-back’ policy on the Vietnamese boatpeople had nothing to do with local Opposition criticisms, for on this issue, we have been kept completely in the dark and knew nothing about them until they appeared in the international press.
The example the deputy Prime Minister used was the $4.5 billion British arms purchase, including Tornado jets. The deputy Prime Minister has forgotten that this scandal was first raised by the British newspaper, the Observer, which alleged that there was a 10 per cent kickback of $450 million from the British arms deal to UMNO Baru leaders.
The question all Malaysians want to ask is why the the Government and the UMNO Baru leaders dare not to sue the Observer if there is no basis to its allegations?
Ghafar Baba is not the most suitable person to pass judgement on the role of the DAP as an opposition party. This rile is best performed by the people, and from the results of the past five general elections, there is no doubt that the people regard the DAP as a major constructive political force in Malaysia.