by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, May 29, 1990:
Hussein Onn will shine out in Malaysian history for his personal integrity and abhorrence of corruption
Malaysians of all races and all walks of life mourn the death of the nation’s third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, who passed away in San Francisco when undergoing medical treatment early this morning.
Hussein Onn will shine out in Malaysian history for his impeccable personal integrity and abhorrence of corruption, and is leadership is particularly missed at a time when abuses of power, corruption, financial and moral scandals have become commonplace in the corridors of power.
When he was Prime Minister, Hussein Onn respected the role of the Opposition and the office of Parliamentary Opposition Leader. Before one parliamentary meeting, the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, asked me to see him, and he said he was instructed by the Prime Minister to give me an advance copy of the Ibrahim Ali Report on Public Employee Salaries which the Government was going to table in the Dewan Rakyat and to ask for parliamentary approval.
Today, the whole country is still waiting for the Education Bill 1990, although the government had been working on it for several years!
One matter which had continued to upset Tun Hussein Onn’s peace of mind was his personal decision in 1976 to appoint Dr. Mahathir as the Deputy Prime Minister, opening the way for Dr. Mahathir to become the fourth Prime Minister.
In the 1980s, Tun Hussein Onn had become increasingly concerned about the way Malaysia was governed by Dr. Mahathir, both with regard to the rampant corruption and galloping government financial scandals, but also the erosion of the fundamental basis of democracy in Malaysia.
This was why Tun Hussein Onn became one of the leading lights in the formation of the Human Rights Society, together with Bapa Malaysia and the founding Prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. Unfortunately, the Human Rights Society has to date not been registered by the Home Ministry although it has submitted its application for close to a year.
While Hussein Onn’s passing is mourning, the best way to perpetuate his memory is for Malaysians to continue to care and uphold the principles which he holds dear and precious, which is to maintain personal integrity and incorruptibility in public life and to restore democratic freedoms to Malaysians.