By Parliamentary opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 23rd September 1990:
Are the MCA Ministers going to officially inform the Cabinet on Wednesday that the MCA reject Anwar Ibrahim’s conditional recognition of nine Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates?
The scandal of the certificates and diplomas of Tunku Abdul Rahmen College not being officially recognized by the government for 21 years is the best example of the dismal role of the MCA’s ‘in family but not in power’ in the Barisan Nasional Government.
The latest episode in this 21-year scandal of the non-recognition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates and diplomas would have been a good political farce, if not for the crushed hopes of the tens of thousands of Tunku Abdul Rahman College graduates who had hoped that the problem of the recognition of their qualifications would be resolved once and for all.
Last Wednesday, MCA President, Datuk Ling Liong Sik, declared that the Government would announce the next day its decision on the recognition of diplomas and certificates from Tunku Abdul Rahman College.
Datuk Dr. Ling said that the Public Services Department Committee, headed by the Education Minister Anwar Ibrahim, had a day earlier decided on the recognition of 20 certificates and diplomas of Tunku Abdul Rahman College.
When Dr. Ling was asked by reporters whether this meant that all the Tunku Abdul Rahman College diplomas and certificates would be recognized, Dr. Ling replied: “Is there any doubt?”
The next day, the MCA Vice President and Labour Minister, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, went to the office of the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, who informed him officially that the government will only recognize nine certificates.
Datuk Lim Ah Lek thanked Anwar Ibrahim for the recognition.
When the MCA Vice President returned to the MCA Headquarters, he found even the recognition of the nine certificates were all conditional, subject to having SPM credit in Bahasa Malaysia.
As a result, 90 per cent of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College graduates and students would not benefit at all!
It was at this stage that all the MCA leaders dared not look at Anwar Ibrahim ‘gift horse’ in the mouth.
Datuk Dr.Ling Liong Sik, who had made a name himself as the greatest exponent of the art of ‘patience’ during the Ling-Lee power struggle, suddenly developed a new art of being ‘very busy’, to the extent that three days after Anwar Ibrahim had announced the terms of the recognition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman certificates, Liong Sik was still too busy rushing from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca and then to Johore and then to Perak, to have the time to stop for a minute either to take a call from Ah Lek or to read the conditions of the recognition!
MCA Ministers are second-class Ministers in the Barisan Nasional Cabinet
If Liong Sik could suddenly be so busy for a stretch of three days that he could not even spare a minute for an issue which the MCA had been fighting for 21 years on behalf of 30,000 Tunku Abdul Rahman College graduates and students, then he is giving me further proof that of all the MCA Presidents, Liong Sik is the best one for the DAP!
The scandal and force of the Tunku Abdul Rahman diplomas and certificates has highlighted the following aspects of the ‘in family but not in power’ role of the MCA in the Barisan Nasional Government:
1. Although he is MCA President and the most senior Malaysian Chinese Cabinet Minister, Liong Sik was kept completely in the dark by the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, about the decision that had already been taken by the government on the government recognition of Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates;
2. The status and improvement of Liong Sik and the MCA Ministers in Cabinet and Government are so insignificant that the Education Minister could allow Liong Sik to make a fool of himself by publicly declaring that all the 20 Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates and diplomas would be recognized, when the government was only going to recognize nine of them, and with unacceptable conditions.
3. The fact that a MCA Vice President and Cabinet Minister had to go to the office of the Education Minister like a supplicant and subordinate to be informed of the recognition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates show that the MCA Ministers are not on an equal footing with UMNO Ministers.
The press often report of MCA Ministers having to call at the offices of UMNO Ministers (and there was a case where a MCA Deputy Education Minister had to lead a MCA delegations to meet his own junior officer in his Ministry!) and never UMNO Ministers having to call on MCA Ministers to plead a case.
It would appear that the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility does not apply in the Barisan Nasional Government, which had subtly developed a system of two classes of ministers, the first-class Ministers comprising UMNO Ministers, and the second-class Ministers, comprising these from other Barisan Nasional component parties. The second-class Ministers are treated by the first-class Ministers as no better than a special grade but still subordinate government officials.
4. The ‘cowardice’ of the MCA President and the top MCA leadership to grapple with the problem of the unacceptable conditional recognition of the nine Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates – with everyone engaged in the art of ‘Tai Chi’.
It is reported in today’s press that the MCA Deputy President, Datuk Lee kim Sai, has said that the MCA could not accept the conditional recognition of the nine Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates, requiring a SPM credit in Bahasa Malaysia.
How could Kim Sai that the MCA could not accept such ‘conditional recognition’, when last Thursday, the MCA Vice President, Datuk Lim Ah Lee had officially accepted and thanked Anwar Ibrahim for the conditional recognition?
If MCA did not want to accept such conditional recognition, than Ah Lek should have boycotted or walked out of the meeting with Anwar. As Chairman of the MCA Disciplinary Committee, is Kim Sai going to ask Ah Lek to show because why he accepted the conditional recognition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates from Anwar Ibrahim last Thursday and even thanked the Education Minister for his ‘help’?
As MCA President, Liong Sik should stop rushing all over the country to give meaningless speeches to find an excuse why he is not addressing the problem of the recognition of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College diplomas and certificates. This is so important an issue that he should even cancel all his party activities to get it resolved once and for all!
As Kim Sai said that the MCA could not accept the conditional recognition of the nine Tunku Abdul Rahman College certificates, are Liong Sik and the other three MCA Ministers going to officially inform the Cabinet on Wednesday that the MCA reject the conditional recognition announced by Anwar to Ah Lek last Thursday?
Is the MCA Presidential Council meeting on Tuesday going to take this firm and uncompromising stand on rejecting the conditional recognition announced by Anwar?
However, considering the fact that the MCA Presidential Council last week did not have the courage to take a stand on the UMNO Youth Policy stand on the 1990 Education Act as announced by UMNO Youth President, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, and the public should not expect anything from the MCA Presidential Council meeting on Tuesday.