by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, January 29, 1992:
It is precisely because the MCA has no principles that its leaders must do all things ‘steathily’ resulting in the continuous erosion of the rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese.
This morning in Petaling Jaya, I read of the various proposals by the MCA Kelantan State Chairman, Lim Jit Keng, as to what I should raise with the Kelantan Mentri Besar, Haji Nik Aziz Nik Mat – one day after the meeting of DAP leaders with Nik Aziz.
If Lim Jit Keng had serious proposals for me to raise with Nik Aziz, surely he should have made them to ensure that they reach me before I met the Kelantan Mentri Besar in Kota Bahru at 2.30 p.m. yesterday. What is the use of making suggestions after I had met the Kelantan Mentri Besar and even left the Kelantan state?
If this is the way MCA leaders operate in the various levels of Barisan Nasional Government, coming out with views only after a meeting had been held or after a decision had been taken, I can understand why the national, state and local MCA leaders are so shockingly inefficient and ineffectual inside the Barisan Nasional Government – often not knowing whether they are coming or going!
I had on Monday sent an urgent fax to the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, to furnish me with five instances before my meeting with the Kelantan Mentri Besar to prove that the Chinese in Kelantan had been ‘oppressed’ and ‘persecuted’ by the PAS-led Kelantan State Government as a result of its Islamisation measures which had infringed the rights and interests of non-Muslims.
It is most unfortunate and regrettable that Liong Sik was unable to furnish five instances of such ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the Chinese in Kelantan, although MCA national and state leaders have been going up and down the country for the past few months shouting about the ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the Chinese in Kelantan.
As proof of the sufferings of the Chinese in Kelantan as a result of the ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the PAS-led Kelantan State Government, Lim Jit Keng said that the non-Muslims were not allowed to drink beer openly, and that “the Chinese had to steathily drink beer and cannot do so openly”.
I do not know whether Lim Jit Keng is talking about a different Kelantan from the Kelantan I had just visited for three days.
As a result of the relentless propaganda campaign of MCA and Gerakan in the past few months, the Chinese outside Kelantan have formed the deep impression that the Chinese in Kelantan are very oppressed and persecuted – that they cannot drink beer, cannot buy or sell alcohol, cannot eat pork, women cannot work at night, women must cover their heads, business must stop on Friday and during Muslim prayers and that Chinese signboards must be taken down and replaced by Jawi characters.
As a result, one of the things that members of the DAP delegation wanted to find out when they visited Kelantan was whether it is true as claimed by the MCA leaders that the Chinese cannot drink beer publicly and must ‘drink steathily’.
On Sunday, when I was in Kuala Krai after visiting Pasir Mas, Tanah Merah and Machang, I drank beer publicly in a coffee shop together with the DAP National Vice Chairman, Lee Ban Chen, the DAPSY National Chairman and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng and the DAP National Assistant Organising Secretary and MP for Bukit Bintang, Wee Choo Keong. In fact, our drinking beer publicly in Kuala Krai was photographed by a press cameraman who have therefore proof of what I said.
On Monday night, after the ceramah-dialogue between the DAP delegation and the people of Kelantan in Kota Bahru, I also had been publicly with Wee Choo Keong while having supper in Kota Bahru.
May be the trouble with Lim Jit Keng is that the MCA leaders, having no political principles, have become so ingrained in doing things ‘steathily’, resulting in the relentless erosion of the rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese, that the MCA leaders have to ‘steathily’ drink beer?
Is this an important reason why the MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, dare not accept my invitation to visit Kelantan – for he had to drink beer ‘steathily’ while I will be drinking beer openly?
There is undoubtedly by the problem of the coffee shop owners who face problems because of the actions taken by MPKB (Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bahru) to stop Muslims from buying or drinking beer.
During our meeting with the Haji Nik Aziz, the two Deputy Mentri Besars, and senior Exco members in Kota Bahru yesterday, the DAP re-opened the case of the problems faced by these coffee-shops in Kota Bahru.
I said that the coffee shop owners respect and comply with the State and Municipal regulations prohibiting Muslims from drinking and buying beer and would not sell beer for Muslims, and would display a prominent warning on their premises that beer is prohibited for Muslims. However, they should be allowed to sell beer in coffee shops without hindrance to non-Muslims. I also conveyed the view presented at the ceramah-dialogue on Monday night that it is impractical to partition the coffee shops as they are too small.
The Kelantan State Executive Councillor in charge of local government and MPKB Chairman, Datuk Haji Abdul Halim Mohamad, said that the regulations were made after discussion with the coffee shop owners’ association and that the idea of the partition of the coffee shop came from the coffee shop owners.
Datuk Halim seems to be surprised that there is still a problem with the coffee shops in Kota Bahru on the sale of beer, and he said that he is prepared to have further discussions with the coffee shop owners.
The Kota Bahru coffee shop owners’ association should therefore take the initiative to follow-up on the re-opening of their problems with the MPKB.
From our three-day visit to Kelantan, it is clear that the deep impression among the Chinese outside Kelantan that the Chinese in Kelantan cannot eat pork, that women cannot work at night, that Chinese women have to cover their heads are completely baseless and untrue.
The DAP delegation visited the Kota Bahru market where pork is publicly displayed and sold. Pig-rearing is allowed in Kelantan although it has been banned in Trengganu, which is run by the Barisan Nasional state government.
Yesterday, I told the Kelantan Mentri Besar, Haji Nik Aziz that if a public opinion survey is conducted among the Chinese in Malaysia outside Kelantan, eight or nine out of ten would state that the Chinese in Kelantan are being ‘oppressed’ and ‘persecuted’ by the PAS-led Kelantan State Government because of Islamisation measures which infringe their rights and interests.
However, such a public opinion survey among the Chinese in Kelantan would probably show the eight or nine out of ten would say that they are not being oppressed or persecuted by the Kelantan State Government, but they strongly fear that it would be a matter of time before the Kelantan State Government introduces and enforces Islamisation measures which infringe their rights and interests.
I told Nik Aziz that although the MCA and Gerakan’s propaganda campaign is a chief cause of this widespread apprehension and fear among the Chinese in Kelantan, the Kelantan State Government must also bear some responsibility. This is because in the past 15 months, there had been so many statements, speeches and pronouncements about Islamisation measures which would infringe non-Muslim rights and interests, and although these were subsequently clarified or withdrawn, the initial damage and fear they created was not fully undone.
This was why at the meeting, the DAP delegation addressed the issues which were the main worries of the Chinese in Kelantan as conveyed to DAP leaders during our three-day visit to Pasir Mas, Tanah Merah, Machang, Kuala Krai, Gua Musang, Pulai, Pasir Puteh, Tumpat and Kota Bahru and we received the following clarifications and assurances from the Mentri Besar:
(1) The question of the cessation of business on Fridays/during Muslim prayers do not rise and will not be introduced.
(2) On the fear of ‘Total ban on public sale and consumption of liquor in Kelantan from July’, this does not arise and the present situation will continue.
(3) The government does not compel but encourages the use of Jawi on signboards/advertisements; Furthermore, we were assured that “tidak ada orang yang akan didakwa oleh kerana tidak digunakan tulisan Jawi siatas papantanda”.
(4) Non-Muslim Religious ceremonies will continue to be allowed in the State.
(5) The MPKB is still studying the issue of the unisex saloons.
(6) On requests by Karaoake operators to be allowed to continue their business after midnight, the State Exco will review the policy question of places of entertainment operating after midnight.
(7) Islamic attire for sportsmen and sportswomen will depend on the sports event but does not apply to non-Muslims.
The PAS-led Kelantan State Government has promised to consider the three proposals we made to allay the widespread apprehension and fear among the Chinese in Kelantan of a host of impending Islamisation measures detrimental to their rights and interests, namely:
(1) Establishment of a representative and effective Consultative Council for non-Muslim Affairs which would study all proposed State Government or Municipal Council measures which could infringe the rights and interests of non-Muslims before any final decision is taken and to enable it to make its recommendations, the Consultative Council could invite views from the non-Muslin community for their opinions and feedback.
(2) A mechanism to deal with and investigate complaints by non-muslims of infringements of their rights and interests, and to redress them.
(3) Increase in the number of Chinese and non-Muslim Municipal and District Council appointments, in particular the Majlis Perbandaran Kota Bahru, so that the Chinese in Kelantan can take part in the decision-making process at the State and Municipal Council levels.
We hope that the Kelantan Mentri Besar and the State Exco will give serious and positive consideration to these three proposals.
The DAP is very concerned that on the whole issue of the MCA and Gerakan propaganda campaign of ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the Chinese in Kelantan, one newspaper had consistently played a most mishievious and irresponsible role. This newspaper has virtually blacked out all DAP statements and speeches, giving a completely one-sided version about the MCA and Gerakan propaganda about the ‘oppression’ and ‘persecution’ of the Chinese in Kelantan as a result of the Islamisation measures of the PAS-led Kelantan state government and that the DAP is responsible for the victimisation of the Chinese in Kelantan.
The DAP is seriously considering lodging a police report against this newspaper.