In the secret ‘Kamunting talks’ on 8th December 1988, Gerakan expressed its willingness to throw its lot with DAP, UMNO 46 and other Sabah and Sarawak parties to present an alternative to UMNO and Barisan Nasional

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at theDAP Tanjong Bungah Branch ‘Towards Tanjong 2’ Dinner held at Dragon Gate Restaurant, Tanjong Tokong, Penang on Friday, 29th June 1990 at 9 p.m.

In the secret ‘Kamunting talks’ on 8th December 1988, Gerakan expressed its willingness to throw its lot with DAP, UMNO 46 and other Sabah and Sarawak parties to present an alternative to UMNO and Barisan Nasional

Malaysia at present seems to be a season of lies for the Barisan Nasional leaders, with one Barisan Nasional leader after another competing to tell the most outrageous lies about the Opposition.

Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, started this Barisan Nasional season of lies with his outrageous lie about the DAP-PAS secret meeting in Jakarta, which he could not prove or substantiate, resulting in Keng Yaik earning the appellation of ‘inveterate, compulsive and incorrigible liar’.

In the recent 12-day Parliament meeting this month, other Barisan Nasional leaders also participated fully in the season of lies. The MIC National Vice President, Datuk K. Pathmanaban, for instance, told me the lie that the DAP Deputy Secretary-general and MP for Bukit Bintang, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, had connived and colluded with the American, Terry Collingsworth, to get Malaysia’s GSP privileges removed, and even claimed that Lam Thye and Terry Collingsworth had been photographed in one picture.

In actual fact, Lam Thye never met, discussed or knew Terry Collingsworth and could not have been photographed with him. Pathmanaban was prepared to admit outside the Parliament that he had no such photograph, but inside the Dewan Rakyat, he stubbornly stuck t his lie that he had such a photograph!

He even claimed that he was prepared to produce the photograph if he was referred to the Committee of Privileges, when he knew fully well that Lam Thye’s motion to refer him to the Committee of Privileges would never get a chance to be debated and decided. It was an empty boast and another lie!

Keng Yaik the undisputed leader in the Barisan Nasional season of lies

The MCA Deputy Finance Minister, Loke Yuen Yow, told the lie in Parliament that the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, was never involved in the sale of KSM’s 28.9 per cent Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd. (MPHB) stake to Kamunting Corporation Bhd. which even the other MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers do not believe!

However, Keng Yaik is the undisputed leader in the Barisan Nasional season of lies, for after the lies about the ‘Jakarta talks’ between the DAP and PAS, he come out with the lies about the ‘Kamunting talks’ between the DAP and Gerakan.

On 10th June, Keng Yaik told the press in Kuala Lumpur after the General Assembly that in 1988, he sent the Penang Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, to visit me in Kamunting when I was in detention under the Internal Security Act to ‘ask me whether I needed Gerakan help to secure my release, and to advise me not to waste my time in the Opposition and join the Barisan Nasional.’

This is another downright lie. Unlike his previous lie about the secret DAP-PAS Jakarta meeting (which existed purely in his imagination), there were secret Kamunting talks between the DAP and Gerakan, but the contents and purpose were completely different from the one claimed by Keng Yaik on June 10.

Ooi Ean Kwong camt to visit me and Karpal Singh on December 8, 1988, ostensibly to bring along a copy of the report of the Penang Assembly Land Standing Committee set up on the motion of the DAP after the controversy over the eviction of the Thean Taik residents to propose security of tenure for ground tenants.

At that time, a Senior Prisons officer also visited the Kamunting Detention Centre, and he sat in during Ran Kwong’s visit. Ean Kwong found that he could not speak the real purpose of his visit, and asked for another room purportedly to discuss with me the Report of the Penang Assembly Land Standing Committee.

Ooi told me that the Gerakan leadership expected the general elections to be held next April (1989), and he was authorized by the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, to propose some form of co-operation between the DAP and Gerakan in Penang. He said that the Gerakan leadership was prepared to work out a political understanding with the DAP, UMNO 46 (Parti Semangat political parties not yet been registered at the time), and Sabah and Sarawak political parties to present an alternative to UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional.

Outlook for Dr. Mahathir, UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional very bleak

The timing of Ooi Ean Kwong’s visit to Kamunting was important. It was a time when the outlook of UMNO Baru and Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamed Mahathir was very bleak, for UMNO Baru had just experienced a traumatic trouncing in the Johore Bahru parliamentary by-election, where the 19,000 votes secured by the Barisan Nasional in the 1986 general elections was slashed to 10,000 votes.

This represented a 43 per cent swing of the votes against the Barisan Nasional, and if in the general elections, there was such a swing nation-wide, the Barisan Nasional would be left with only one Parliamentary seat!

Although at the time, UMNO Baru had scraped through the Parit Raja by-election in Johore, it was clear that UMNO Baru had lost out to UMNO 46 in securing the support of the majority of the Malay voters.

In Penang, Gerakan was also going through its own party trauma, as a former protégé and designed-successor of Dr. Lim Chong Eu, Khor Gark Kim, had just defected to MCA, causing the MCA to profess its ambition to recapture the Penang Chief Minister’s post.

Gerakan to become a second PPP

The Gerakan leadership had reason to panic, especially if the general elections was a few months away, for it knew that if the Gerakan loses Penang, Gerakan would be wiped out and become another People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

I was rather skeptical about the sincerity of the Gerakan leadership, for although they might be flirting theoretically with the possibility of breaking with UMNO Baru and Barisan Nasional, and teaming up with DAP and UMNO 46, I believed that when it came to the crunch, they would return to the Barisan Nasional.

I was reminded of one Gerakan Minister once telling me in the 1970s that Parliament was a farce, and that the only way to bring about political changes in the country was to take up arms and go into the jungle like the Communist Party of Malaya, but this Minister would never do what he preached, least of all, lose the comforts and perks of his Ministerial office for guerilla warfare in the jungles.

Events have proved me right about my doubts about the sincerity of the General leadership, but I will talk about this, if necessary, at another time.

I would not have spoken or referred to the ‘Kamunting talks’ if Keng Yaik had not spoken about it, and even worse, told a completely false and untrue version.

Ean Kwong never came to Kamunting to ask me whether I needed Gerakan help to secure my release. if my release was uppermost in my mind, I knew who to contact direct, and the Gerakan would be far down the list. I could reach the top man himself, and I did not require Gerakan or Keng Yaik to he my messenger boy or postman.

Mahathir to release me immediately if I ‘recant’

In fact, on 3rd January 1989, Dr. Mahathir told three DAP leaders that I could be released immediately if I would ‘recant’ for my mistakes. The three DAP leaders had met Dr. Mahathir to inform him that the DAP had decided to nominate me as one of the DAP representatives on the proposed National Economic Consultative Council (NECC) and to ask for m release so that I could participate in the NECC proceedings.

My response to Dr. Mahathir’s demand that I ‘recant’ before I could be released was a press conference y my son Lim Guan Choon, who had returned to visit me during the university vacation in Melbourne University. Appearing together with my family, Guan Choon declared that I ha nothing to recant, and that I was prepared to be detained for the rest of my life for my political beliefs and principles, and that my family fully supported me in my position.

Many Malaysians must have wondered at that time why Guan Choon and my family gave such a press conference. I am revealing the background for the first time.

Considering Ooi Ean Kwong’s background, he would be the last person to have the courage to come to Kamunting to advise me ‘not to waste my time in the Opposition and join the Barisan Nasional’. As I told Ean Kwong in the Penang Assembly on June 11, I would have ‘thrown him out of Kamunting’ if he had dared to do so.

I had given Ean Kwong repeated opportunities just to deny Keng Yaik’s version, as I was reluctant to reveal the true facts. I have no choice but to put some of the records about the ‘Kamunting talks’ straight as Ean Kwong has refused to deny Keng Yaik’s untrue version.