Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, on arrival at the Kota Bahru airport on Sunday, January 26, 1992 at 12 noon on the DAP delegation’s three-day visit to Kelantan.
DAP calls on the Prime Minister to declare Kelantan as a Special Development State to receive special development allocation to redress the long-standing economic imbalance between Kelantan and other states.
DAP leaders are in Kelantan for three days beginning today to get first-hand information about developments in Kelantan in the past 15 months since the October 1990 general elections.
I have with me at present Sdr. Lee Ban Chen, DAP National Vice Chairman, Sdr. Lim Guan Eng, DAPSY National Chairman and MP for Kota Melaka and Sdr. Wee Choo Keong, DAP Assistant National Organising Secretary and MP for Bukit Bintang.
We will be joined later in Gua Musang this evening by a second batch of the DAP delegation, namely the DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for Seputeh, Sdr. Liew Ah Kim, DAP Director of Political Bureau and Research and MP for Petaling Jaya, Dr. Kua Kia Soong and DAP Assistant National Treasurer and MP for Klang, Sdr. Fung Kui Lun.
Tomorrow, the DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin, DAP National Vice Chairmen, Sdr. Ahmad Nor and Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, and DAP Deputy Secretary-General, Sdr. P. Patto will be the third batch to arrive in Kelantan.
The purpose of the DAP delegation’s visit will be manifold. Firstly, DAP leaders want to know whether the Barisan Nasional Federal Government is playing its part to bring about development progress to the people and state of Kelantan.
It is a fallacy to regard the Kelantan State Government as solely responsible for the development of the state. When the Barisan Nasional was re-elected the Federal Government, its mandate and responsibility covers the whole of Malaysia including Kelantan, and the Barisan Nasional Federal Government cannot disclaim responsibility for the development and progress of the people and State of Kelantan just because the State Government fell to the Opposition.
UMNO had been in power in Kelantan for 12 years from 1978 to 1990 but at the end of UMNO’s rule, Kelantan was even more backward when compared to the other states despite UMNO’s promise of ‘development and progress’ to the people of Kelantan.
In 1970, Kelantan’s State GDP Per Capita was 47 per cent of the national average, but in 1990, after 12-year ‘development’ by UMNO State Government, Kelantan’s State GDP Per Capita had fallen to 40 per cent of the national average.
DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, and the Barisan Nasional Federal Government to fully recognise their co-responsibility with the State Government of Kelantan to ensure that the people of Kelantan enjoys the fruits of national development, for two reasons:
Firstly, the Barisan Nasional Federal Government is a government for the whole Federation, and not Malaysia minus Kelantan – as otherwise, Annuar Musa should not be appointed a Senator and then the Minister for Youth and Sports; and
Secondly, the people of Kelantan also pay Federal taxes as the people in other states which entitle them to development attention by the Federal Government.
Twelve years after UMNO rule in the State, Kelantan still has one of the highest incidence of poverty in the country at 29.9 per cent in 1990.
The formulation and implementation of development plans to redress Kelantan’s gross economic imbalance with the other states is therefore a joint responsibility of the Federal and State Governments, regardless of which party is in power at the State level.
The DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to declare Kelantan as a Special Development State because of its poverty and economic backwardness so as to receive special development allocations and attentions from the Federal Government to redress the gross economic imbalances between Kelantan and the other states.
If the Barisan Nasional Federal Government disregards or discriminates against the Kelantan State and people for selfish party political reasons, then the Barisan Nasional must bear full responsibility for the continued poverty and backwardness of the people of Kelantan.
The DAP pledges to give full support in Parliament to any special development scheme and allocations asked for by Dr. Mahathir to ensure that the people and State of Kelantan is not left out of the mainstream of national development.
DAP supports the amendment of the Federal Constitution to allow the appointment of Chinese and woman Assembly representatives into the Kelantan State Assembly.
The second purpose of the DAP delegation’s visit to Kelantan is to find out first-hand the truth or otherwise of the publicity campaign mounted by the MCA and Gerakan in the past few months that the Chinese in Kelantan had been ‘oppressed’ and ‘persecuted’ by the PAS Kelantan State Government.
Before I comment further on this, I wish to refer to the promise made by the Kelantan State Government to amend the Kelantan State Constitution to appoint Chinese and women representatives to the State Assembly.
In November last year, the Mentri Besar, Nik Aziz Nik Mat said the Kelantan State Government could not fulfil its promise as the Federal Constitution does not permit such an amendment of the Kelantan State Constitution. He publicly asked the MCA and Gerakan for their support in getting the Federal Constitution amended as to enable the Kelantan State Government to appoint Chinese and women representatives to the Kelantan State Assembly.
DAP supports the amendment of the Federal Constitution to allow the appointment of Chinese and women representatives to the Kelantan State Assembly, and I hope the MCA President, Datul Dr. Ling Liong Sik and the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, could agree firstly to give their party’s support and secondly, to get UMNO support.
If Liong Sik and Keng Yaik are not prepared to support such an amendment to the Federal Constitution to open the way for the amendment of the Kelantan State Constitution to appoint Chinese and women representatives into the Kelantan State Assembly, the Chinese in Kelantan and the whole of Malaysia are entitled to know why.
Are the MCA and Gerakan allegations of the ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the Chinese in Kelantan by the Islamisation measures of the PAS-led Kelantan State Government true?
A primary aim of the visit of the DAP delegation to Kelantan is to find out the true facts about the MCA and Gerakan allegations that the Chinese in Kelantan have been ‘oppressed’ and ‘persecuted’ by Islamisation measures of the PAS-led Kelantan State Government which are detrimental to the rights and interests of non-Muslim Malaysians.
There is no doubt that the MCA and Gerakan propaganda campaign and general mass media treatment have created deep anxiety and fear among the Chinese in the country as to whether the series of Islamisation measures prejudicial to the rights and interests of non-Muslim Malaysians have plunged the Chinese in Kelantan into the sufferings of ‘deep waters and furnace heat’.
As a result, the MCA and Gerakan propaganda campaign had been quite successful in creating the image that the PAS-led Kelantan State Government is anti-Chinese and oppressive of the non-Muslims in Kelantan State.
For instance, the MCA and Gerakan propaganda alleged that the PAS-led Kelantan State Government had imposed 70 Islamisation measures which had deprived the Kelantan Chinese of their rights and interests.
It is understandable for the Chinese throughout Malaysia to have more and more anxiety and even fear about the policies and measures of the PAS-led Kelantan State Government, because of mass media reports of the following measures for instance:
*The total ban on the public sale and consumption of liquor in Kelantan from July;
*Cessation of Business during Muslim prayer time;
*The compulsory use of Jawi in all signboards and advertisements;
*The ban of the use of woman in advertisements;
*The imposition of the Islamic dress code for all women;
*The ban on women from working night-shift; and
*The imposition of hukum hudud involving penalties of chopping of hands and stoning.
Subsequent press reports on clarifications about these measures, whether on their application only to Muslims or their retraction, could not undo the great damage that such cumulative press reports of Islamisation measures have done, for the anxiety and fear remains in the minds of the Chinese throughout the country that the policies and measures of the PAS-led State Government are inimical to the rights and interests of non-Muslim Malaysians.
Although several of these measures were subsequently clarified as to apply only to Muslims, I am surprised that the PAS-led Kelantan State Government continues to be insensitive to the anxieties and fears, not only of the Chinese in Kelantan, but throughout Malaysia, which such initial reports had created and which could not be completely allayed.
It is precisely because the DAP leaders are aware that there is a gap between public image and the actual situation that a DAP delegation has come to Kelantan.
The DAP delegation is in Kelantan for a three-day visit because we want to check the true facts of the situation. We are not so unprincipled and opportunistic as the MCA and Gerakan leaders who support all Islamisation measures by UMNO but oppose all measures by PAS, even if they have nothing to do with non-Muslims or the Kelantan Chinese whatsoever.
We are prepared to support and praise PAS for measures which promote universal values of a good, clean and just society which is to be found in all religions, as for instance to prevent corruption, abuses of power and waste of public funds; but we will also not hesitate to criticise and oppose measures which infringe on the rights and interests of non-Muslim Malaysians.
This is why we want to get feedback from the people as well as to meet the Kelantan State Government leaders, including the Mentri Besar.
The DAP will divide so-called 70 Islamisation measures into three categories:
(i) those that promote universal values to be found in all religions, as a clean, honest and just government and society;
(ii) those that strictly concern Muslims; and
(iii) those that touch the lives of non-Muslim Malaysians which (a) infringe on their rights and interests; and (b) do not infringe on their rights and interests.
The third purpose of the DAP delegation to Kelantan is to exchange views with the people of Kelantan on the latest political and national developments.