by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 28th May 1991:
Newly-formed National Unity Advisory Panel will be as ineffective and irrelevant to issue of national unity as its predecessors of the past 25 years.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, yesterday launched with great fanfare a new National Unity Advisory Panel with the Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datuk Napsiah Omar as Chairman and her Deputy Minister, Datuk Alex Lee, as Vice Chairman.
The 33-member new National Unity Advisory Panel however will be as ineffective and irrelevant to issues of national unity as its various predecessors of the past 25 years.
This is because the government is not serious about the issue and problem of national unity.
Firstly, how can the government convince Malaysians that it is serious about national unity, when the National Unity Advisory Panel has as its Vice Chairman Alex Lee, who had been in the centre of controversy over the Malaysian Chinese Cultural City, and been accused and denounced even by MCA leaders of being utterly without political scruples or honesty?
I have no doubt that if a secret ballot is conducted among the Barisan Nasional leaders as to whether Alex Lee is qualified to be Vice Chairman of the National Unity Advisory Council, the MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other leaders will vote a resounding ‘No’!
How can such a divisive personality even among Barisan Nasional circles unite Malaysians?
Seven Reasons why the Barisan Nasional Government is not serious about national unity.
Furthermore, how can the government convince the people that it is serious about national unity, when the Barisan Nasional component parties and leaders, had generated the most intense national divisions in recent months.
Here are another five examples why the Barisan Nasional government is not serious about national unity:
The use of extremist communal, chauvinistic and religious tactics by the Barisan Nasional in the October general elections, and in particular the distortion of the Kadazan tengkolok issue where Semangat 46 President Tengku Razaleigh was falsely accused of wearing a cross to prove that he had sold out the Malay race and betrayed the Islamic religion;
The UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders publicly demanding to know what the Chinese in Malaysia want after the general elections;
The irresponsible communalisation of the Malaysian Chinese Cultural City issue, distorting it as a ‘Chinatown’ not only by UMNO and UMNO Youth leaders but also by Gerakan leaders like Datuk Alex Lee;
The open disagreement among Barisan Nasional leaders over the meaning of the National Culture, evem with the Minister of Culture, Chan Kong Choy, publicly showing that they are different understanding of the government’s National Culture Policy when they disagree over the MCA’s Malaysian Chinese Cultural City proposal.
The polarization of the university campuses and the communalization of campus issues by Barisan Nasional leaders, as in the controversy over the appointment of non-Malay deans in the University of Malaya last year.
Would the National Unity Advisory Board be in a position to address these five specific issues which had generated so much national divisions as to seriously undermine national unity – all directly as the result of irresponsible communal politiking by Barisan Nasional leaders?
Dr. Mahathir will hear the echoes of his own voice and rhetoric in the National Unity Advisory Panel.
I will give a seventh reason why the National Unity Advisory Board will be ineffective and irrelevant to the issue and problem of national unity – its composition.
The Board is dominated by senior government officials at Federal and State levels. If these senior Federal and State government officials cannot promote national unity when they are holding positions of influence and power, and in particular cannot prevent the great setback to national integrations as highlighted by the Sabah problem, what further contribution can they make in the National Unity Advisory Board?
The Board has failed to represent a full cross-section of the different communities, sections and classes of people which is a perequisite if a breakdown is to be found in resolving the problem of national unity in Malaysia.
In his speech, Dr. Mahathir spent a lot of time denouncing foreigners and said that Malaysians do not need the advice of foreigners on national unity. This preoccupation with foreigners is symptomatic of something very wrong with government thinking on national unity.
The real problem of national unity in Malaysia is not about advice from foreigners, but that the Government has failed and even refused to heed and consider the advice and views of Malaysians from all communities, sections and classes of people.
From the composition of the National Unity Advisory Board, Dr. Mahathir will only hear echoes of its own voice and rhetoric – and get the genuine voice of the people who feel alienated from having a full stake in the national mainstream of development in the country, whether in the political, economic, educational, cultural, social or religious sphere.