Press Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Tuesday, 10th July 1990:
Challenge to Datuk Lee Kim Sai to prove that he did not run away to Australia on October 27, 1987 to escape arrest under Internal Security Act
Today’s press carried headlines of MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lee Kim Sai issuing a challenge to me to produce proof and declaring that he was prepared to resign as Minister and quit politics if I accept the challenge.
The first impression of the Malaysian public who read the headlines would be one of admiration for Kim Sai, for no MCA Minister had ever dared to make such a declaration that he would resign as Minister and quit politics. Only Lee Kim Sai, with his ‘dare to speak and dare to anger’ reputation, seems to be the only MCA leaders who have such guts. Everybody now says ‘it is up to Kit Siang to produce the proof’!
However, when I read the newspaper reports about Kim Sai’s challenge to me, about the proof he challenged me to produce, I was very disappointed.
We had completely evaded the issue I had raised during my speech at the joint 3,000 people DAP-Semangat 46-AMIPF dinner held in Kapar, Selangor on Saturday night.
The point of my speech in Kapar was that Kim Sai drew his full salary and allowances as a Minister totalling $19,000 a month, and enjoyed a grand and prolonged holiday at Malaysian taxpayers’ expense, when he ran away to Australia for three months to escape Operation Lalang arrest.
This was to expose his untruthful claim on his return that he suffered great hardships and privations when he was in Australia, to the extent that he had to ‘sleep on the floorboards’ of his son’s house in Australia.
Why Kim Sai dare not challenge me to prove that he had a grand holiday in Australia at Malaysia taxpayers’ expense?
I had at first thought that Kim Sai had denied that he was enjoying a prolonged and grand holiday in Australia during those three months and that he had challenged me to produce proof that he had drawn the full salary and allowances as a Minister when he escaped to Australia and had to ‘sleep on the floorboards’ in his son’s house!
This is the challenge Kim Sai should have thrown – to challenge me to prove that he had drawn the full Ministerial salary and allowance of $19,000 a month during the entire period he claimed he was ‘sleeping on the floorboards’ of his son’s house, and if I could prove it, he would resign as a Minister and quit politics?
Why is it Kim Sai dare not throw this challenge?
This is because what I said in Kapar on Saturday night, that Kim Sai never suffered any hardship or privation when he was in Australia, but was having a grand holiday and at taxpayers’ expense, was true.
In fact, I challenge Kim Sai to deny that he had drawn more than $19,000 a month in salary and allowance for his ‘Operation Lalang’ holiday in Australia!
Wasn’t it true that when he was ‘sleeping on the floorboards’ in his son’s house in Australia, he was paid the following monthly salary and allowances: Minister’s salary of $6,500, MP’s allowance of $3,000, Entertainment Allowance of $4,000, Housing Allowance of $4,000 and House-Help Allowance of $2,000. All this adds up to $19,000 a month. I had not included the dobi allowance he was entitled to, which will make the total figure reach $20,000 a month.
Challenge to Kim Sai to reveal whether he drew a total of $50,000 a month of taxpayers’ money when he was holidaying in Australia
I have also not included the allowances which he was entitled to when holidaying overseas, like the subsistence allowance of about $200 a day, overseas entertainment allowance of $100 a day, full reimbursement for hotel and food bills (although he might have slept on the floorboards in his son’s house), ‘tips’ allowance, and various other types of allowances, which could come to $1,000 to $2,000 a month.
Keeping to the conservative figure of $1,000 a day, this means that Kim Sai would have been entitled to another $30,000 allowances a month that he was in Australia –over and above the $20,000 a month he drew from his salary and allowances as Minister.
I challenge Kim Sai to make public the total sum of taxpayers’ money he drew when he was holidaying in Australia, and whether it totalled $50,000 a month in all.
Kim Sai accused me of wanting to help Datuk Ling Liong Sik in the ‘Ling-Lee’ power struggle in the MCA for the MCA Presidency. I do not want to get involved in the MCA power struggle between Liong Sik and Kim Sai, for it was purely a battle for power between two persons and two factions, and nothing whatsoever to do with the rights of the Chinese community, the Malaysian people and the nation as a whole.
Instead of accusing me of wanting to help Liong Sik, Kim Sai and his faction should have thanked me for giving them all the ammunition that they are now firing at Liong Sik. All the things that Kim Sai, Woon See Chin, Koh Wee Kiat are now suing against Liong Sik came from me.
I spoke in Kapar about Kim Sai holidaying in Australia at taxpayers’ expense, and not suffering hardships and privation sleeping on the floorboards in his son’s house as he had claimed, because I had just received an answer from the Prime Minister’s Department to my parliamentary question last month, confirming that Kim Sai was given ‘long vacation leave’ by the Prime Minister from October 27, 1987 onwards!
If Kim Sai wants to blame anyone for giving out such information, he should blame the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed!
Kim Sai said I accused him of being a ‘coward’ in running away to Australia. I did not make any such allegation in Kapar. But since he had brought up the issue, Kim Sai should clarify it.
Kim Sai’s challenge to me is to prove that by running away to Australia, he had brought shame to MCA and adverse consequences to the Chinese community, he would resign as Minister and quit politics.
How do Kim Sai want me to produce such proof? By getting 100 signatures, or 1,000 signatures or 10,000 signatures?
If Kim Sai wanted such proof, he had an excellent opportunity last year, when he challenged DAP Deputy Secretary-General, Lee Lam Thye, to a by-election in Seputeh. Why did Kim Sai back out in the last minute, on the excuse that he was not allowed by the Prime Minister to contest the by-election?
Kim Sai said that it was the decision of the MCA Central Committee on October 27, 1987, that he should ‘leave’ for Australia. Wasn’t it true that when the MCA Central Committee met, Operation Lalang had already started, and several persons had already been detained, and that the Central Committee knew that Kim Sai was on the arrest list?
Did Kim Sai tell the MCA Central Committee on October 27, 1987 that would prefer to be detained under Operation Lalang instead of running away to Australia?
Kim Sai had claimed that he had left for Australia in exchange for the cancellation of the UMNO Rally scheduled for Nov. 1 in Merdeka Stadium. Can Kim Sai prove this assertion? Wasn’t this a lie, as the whole purpose of the MCA Central Committee meeting was to beg for time for Kim Sai to run to Australia to escape arrest under Operation Lalang?
The Malaysian public are interested in Kim Sai’s own stand at the meeting of the MCA Central Committee asking him to run away to Australia to escape arrest under Operation Lalang.
Did Kim Sai tell the MCA Central Committee on October 27, 1987 that he was prepared to be detained under the ISA and go to jail for his political beliefs, and that this was a personal decision that he himself would have to make. Did Kim Sai tell the MCA Central Committee that he would prefer to be detained under Operation Lalang instead of running away to Australia? Or was Kim Sai waiting for the MCA Central Committee to bail him out? Let the truth be out!