Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Padang Kota, Lim Kit Siang, in the Penang State Assembly on Wednesday, June 23, 1993 in the debate on the motion of thanks for the Governor’s Address
Does Tsu Koon now believe that the defeat of Dr. Lim Chong Eu in the last general elections was the greatest thing in Penang politics and that older political leaders like Ghafar Baba and even Dr. Mahathir Mohamed should give way to a young leader like Anwar Ibrahim?
It is most unfortunate that the present Penang State Assembly official opening by the Yang di Pertuan Negri Penang should be marred by the undemocratic and unconstitutional evasion of the six-month rule in the Penang State Constitution and the Penang State Assembly requiring the State Assembly to meet at least once in six months.
The six-month rule in Article 19(1) of the Penang State Constitution and Penang State Assembly Standing Order 6(3) is not a technical rule, but an important democratic rule to hold the State Government to the principle of accountability by the elected State Assemblymen.
The six-man rule, requiring the Penang State Assembly to meet at least once every six months, lays down the maximum period where the Penang State Government could govern without calling State Assembly meetings where it had to account for its policies, actions and measures. A responsible and accountable Government would not wait for six months to call a State Assembly meeting, but would hold State Assembly meetings once in every three or four months.
Tsu Koon has however turned the six-month rule from a maximum ceiling where the State Government cannot govern without calling State Assembly meetings into a minimum period before the State Government would summon State Assembly meetings!
In fact, in the past 32 months, Tsu Koon appeared to be guided by two considerations in fixing State Assembly meetings:
Firstly, to avoid having a State Assembly meeting as long as constitutionally permissible – i.e. once in every six months.
Secondly, to arrange the Penang State Assembly to clash with Parliamentary meetings.
This time, however, Tsu Koon could not arrange the Penang State Assembly meeting which fulfils both conditions – for there is no June meeting of the Dewan Rakyat this year.
If Tsu Koon is allowed to give an unreasonable and perverted interpretation, he would be converting a six-month rule into a 12-month rule
Instead, Tsu Koon has decided to circumvent the six-month rule by arranging for the official opening of the State Assembly by the Yang di Pertuan Negeri on June 12 and adjourning the working State Assembly meeting for 11 days till June 23, which is well in excess of the six-month period as required by the Penang State Constitution.
If Tsu Koon is allowed to establish such a precedent to evade the six-month rule by a most unreasonable and perverted interpretation, then he would be able to arbitrarily change the six-month rule into a 12-month rule, where instead of the State Assembly having to be convened once in convened once in every six months, it need not be convened for more than 12 months.
For this unreasonable and perverted interpretation, Tsu Koon had relied on the Penang State Assembly Standing Orders 118A which defined the meaning of a “meeting”, which said:
“ ‘meeting’ means any sitting or sittings of the Assembly commencing when the Assembly first meets after being summoned at any time and terminating when the Assembly is adjourned for more than fourteen days or sine dine or at the conclusion of a session.”
Standing Order 6(3) states: “There shall be a meeting of the Assembly once at least in six months, so that a period of six months shall not intervene between the last sitting in one session and the date appointed for the first sitting in the next session.”
Tsu Koon had used Standing Orders 118A to argue that it was perfectly all right and constitutional to adjourn the Assembly after its official opening for 11 days – as Standing Orders 118A allows an adjournment which is not “more than fourteen days”.
If this is the unreasonable and prevented interpretation of the six-month rule, then a 14-day State Assembly meeting can be held over a period of over seven months – adjourning for 14 days repeatedly after every day of sitting! If the first day of such a Penang State Assembly had been on 1st of January, then 14-day State Assembly meeting which adjourns for 14 days after every sitting would not end until the middle of July. Now, applying the six-month rule, the State Assembly need not meet until the following January – and hey presto! Tsu Koon has worked magic in turning a six-month rule where the State Assembly should meet once in every six months, or twice a year, into a rule where the State Assembly needs to meet only once in 12 months or even longer period!
It is regrettable that up to now, the Penang Chief Minister has failed to counter the democratic and constitutional arguments of the Penang DAP on his evasion of the six-month rule in the Penang State Constitution.
It is even more regrettable that the Penang Chief Minster and Penang Gerakan had tried to communalise the issue – where there is no communal dimension at all as the question is strictly about the undemocratic and unconstitutional attempt to violate and circumvent the Penang State Constitution and the Penang State Assembly Standing Orders on the six-month rule.
Deplorable that Tsu Koon and Penang Gerakan tried to ‘play the China card’ to justify the violation of six-month rule.
It is most deplorable that the Penang Chief Minister and the Penang Gerakan leaders attempted to play ‘the China card’ in claiming that I was opposed and wanted to sabotage Tsu Koon joining the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed on his second China visit from 13 to 22.
I has said before and I now repeat, that DAP gives our full blessing to the visit of the Prime Minister and the Penang Chief Minister to China, for such visits are good for Malaysia and Penang.
However, Tsu Koon’s joining Dr. Mahathir delegation to China cannot be used to violate and circumvent the Penang State Constitution, the Penang State Assembly Standing Order and the important democratic principle of the six-month rule.
Up to now, despite his many explanations, Tsu Koon has failed to give any cogent and convincing reason why on being informed in April that he would be joining Dr. Mahathir on the China visit, he could not reschedule the Penang State Assembly so that it could complete its meeting before the Prime Minister leaves for China on June 13.
Tsu Koon had in fact come out very badly from this sorry episode, because firstly, he had not been fully honest and had tried to conceal from the Penang DAP Assemblymen the separation of the official opening of the Penang State Assembly on June 12 and the working State Assembly meeting 11 days later on June 23. This shows a guilty conscience and that he knew that what he was doing was wrong, undemocratic and unconstitutional.
Secondly, Tsu Koon was also not honest when he claimed that the State Exco members were too busy with their respective duties to bring forward the Penang State Assembly meeting after being informed in April that he would be joining Dr. Mahathir on the China visit.
Everybody knows that in April and May, Tsu Koon Spent the most time on party affairs than on State government matters in his 30-month tenure as Penang Chief Minister – for he was campaigning nation-wide to contest one of the three Gerakan Vice President’s posts in anticipation of a challenge from his political rival – Penang State Exco member, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik.
Is Tsu Koon suggesting that his nation-wide campaign in the Gerakan party election in his ‘battle’ against Goh Cheng Teik – which proved abortive when Cheng Teik did contest for the Gerakan Vice President’s post – was more important than the holding of a proper, legal and constitutional State Assembly meeting?
In any event, after all the time he had taken from his duties as Penang Chief Minister to campaign against Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, Tsu Koon backed out of the contest for the Gerakan Vice President’s post to give way to Dominic Puthucheary on the pressures of the Gerakan party leadership!
The ‘inferiority complex’ and besieged mentality of Tsu Koon and Penang Gerakan leaders
It is also most deplorable that Penang Gerakan leaders had also tried to communalise this issue by reviving the allegation that the DAP was afraid of UMNO but was bulling Gerakan, accusing the DAP of not protesting when last year, the Penang Speaker, Datuk Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas, adjourned the State Assembly for 12 days after meeting from June 2 to 5 – resuming on June 17.
Tsu Koon and the Penang Gerakan leaders must be going around with a very serious ‘inferiority complex’ when they are besieged mentally by the obsession that they are being bullied by the DAP!
There is however a great difference between these two adjournments. Last June, the State Assembly met for four days from June 2 to 5 and could not complete all the State Assembly business. The State Assembly to be postponed to June 17 because immediately after June 5, there was the Hari Raya Haji holidays and the majority of the State Exco members had planned long holidays outside the State.
The Penang DAP Assemblymen were consulted and informed of the June 17 date before the announcement by the Speaker who had spoken to the Penang DAP State Assembly Deputy Leader, Sdr. Teoh Teik Huat and the DAP Assembly whip, Sdr. Peter Dason.
In contrast, Tsu Koon never consulted the Penang DAP Assembly and had in fact tried to conceal from DAP Assembly that the State Assembly would adjourn for 11 days official opening by the Yang di Pertua Negeri – until the State Government was forced to make a public admission by the DAP.
In order to uphold the integrity of the Penang State Constitution and democratic principle of accountability of the six-month rule, Penang DAP had suggested the Penang State Constitution to replace the six-month rule with a three-month rule – requiring the Penang State Assembly to be convened once every three months.
Tau Koon should take a special course in constitutional law from the State Legal Adviser so that he would not make a public exhibition of his ignorance
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon accused me of being ignorant of the Federal Constitution in proposing the amendment of the State Constitution to replace the six-month rule with a three-month rule, and he said that such ignorance that I was showing my age and no longer fit to be Opposition leader.
It is Tsu Koon who is ignorance of the constitutional law and a had asked the State Legal Adviser to give him a special course on both the Federal and State Constitutions so that he would not make a public exhibition of his ignorance.
Tsu Koon said that the DAP proposal to amend the State Constitution to replace the six-month rule with a three-month rule requiring the State Assembly to meet once in three months would contradict Schedule 8 of the Federal Constitution which stipulates that State Constitutions should provide that State Assembly should meet at least once in six months.
Article 71(4) provides that the State Constitutions should not be inconsistent with the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
An amendment to the Penang State Constitution to replace the six-month rulewith a three-month rule, however, would not be inconsistent with the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.
Clearly, Tsu Koon did not realise or understand that the meaning and purpose of the six-month rule in the Eighth Schedule in the Federal Constitution is to prevent State Governnments from evading the democraticprinciple of accountability to the elected State Assembly by not calling regular State Assembly meetings for longer than six-month intervals.
This has happened in the past. In the early days after Merdaka, the Terengganu State Government did not convene the Terengganu State Assembly for six months and openly violated the six-month rule, creating one of the earliest political scandals in the country.
It is shocking that 36 years after Merdaka, the Penang State Government is repeating the same political scandal when the Penang Chief Minister, who is highly-educated, should have known better.
If the DAP had proposed the amendment of the State Constitution to change the six-month rule to a 12-month rule, where the State Assembly need not be summoned except once a year, such of the Federal Constitution and to that extent null and void.
But an amendent to provide for a three-month rule to replace the six-month rule in the Penang State Constitution would not be inconsistent or contradictory to the Eighth Schedule.
In layman’s terms, under the Eighth Schedule of the Federal Constitution, State Constitutions which allow State Assemblies not to meet once in six months would be inconsistent with the Federal Constitution, while State Constitutions which require State Assemblies to meet at shorter intervals as once in three or four months would be consistent with the Eighth Schedule.
Tsu Koon had also alleged that I am ignorant of the State Constitution as I had claimed that the opening speech of the Yang di Pertua Negari was not part of the State Assembly meeting. I challenge Tsu Koon to point out where I had made such a statement or claim.
It is clear that it is the Penang Chief Minister who is shockingly ignorant ofboth the Federal and State Constitution.
Has Tsu Koon decided to play ‘the China card’ because he thinks ‘the Mahathir card’ is getting too old?
Tsu Koon said I am getting too old to continue as Opposition Leader. I am surprised that after 32 months as Penang Chief Minister, Tsu Koon, who bears the political mission of ‘Attacking into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ has becomes ‘totally’ rectified by the Barisan Nasional’ that he has already forgotten the values he had been inculcated by Chinese education, like ‘Filial’ to the Related and Respect the Elders’.
In age, I am older than Tsu Koon, butI am definitely very much younger than Dr. Lim Chong Eu. Is Tsu Koon, who bears the political mission of ‘Attacking into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ has become so ‘totally rectified by the Barisan Nasional’ that he has already forgotten the values he had been inculcated by Chinese education, like ‘Filial to the Related and Respect the Elders’.
In age, I am older than Tsu Koon, but I am not sure that Tsu Koon is younger than me in terms of political idealism and preparedness to sacrifice self for the people and country. Yes, I am older than Tsu Koon. I have spent 35 months in detention under the Internal Security Act. Had Tsu Koon spent a single day in the police lock-up or the detention cells? Tsu Koon was ‘born with a political silver-spoon in his mouth’ and this is why he is now Penang Chief Minister although the real power as head of the Penang State Government lies elsewhere!
I may be older than Tsu Koon, but I am definitely very much younger than Dr. Lim Chong Eu. Is Tsu Koon now indirectly expressing his appreciation that Chong Eu had been defeated in the last general elections, regarding it as the greatest thing to have happened in Penang politics so that he could at least have the name though not the power of Penang Chief Minister?
One thing I would say, however, is that if Dr. Lim Chong Eu is Chief Minister, he would not try to violate and evade the six-month rule in the manner that Tsu Koon has done as Chong Eu does not suffer from any inferiority complex.
Is this the reason why there is such a tension between Dr. Tsu Koon and Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, as the Penang Chief Minister regards Goh Cheng Teik as “showing his age” and not fit to continue as State Exco member?
I am also very much younger than the Deputy Prime Minister, Ghafar Baba and the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. Is Tsu Koonn also sending a message that older political leaders like Ghafar Baba and Dr. Mahathir should give way to younger policital leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim?
Is this the reson why Tsu Koon and the Penang Gerakan is playing ‘the China card’ instead of playing ‘the Mahathir card’, because he thinks ‘the Mahathir card’ is getting too old?
Let us be fully conscious that in ourb plural society, seeking to establish a Bangsa Malaysia in Vision 2020, it is the height of irresponsibility for the Penang Chief Minister and the Penang Gerakan to ‘play the China card’ for political mileage.
I am reminded of the recent episode where there was a fuss when the managing director of Otis, Andrea Vecchiotti, was quoted in the May 22 issue of the weekly, the Economist, as saying that his company had picked Penang instead of Kuala Lumpur to set up its RM169 million elevator and escalator plant because Penang is “more Chinese”.
Vecchiotti’s statement is clearly open to criticism, but surely there is no need for the Penang Chief Minister to over-react and even panic and seet off explanatory letters to both Dr. Mahathir and the Minister for Internional Trade and Industry, Datuk Peduka Rafidah Aziz as if he had been caught doing something wrong!
If Tsu Koon is so sensitive to ‘Chinese’ questions, then how can he reconcile his using ‘the China card’ to justify his undemocratic and unconstitutional evasion of the six-month rule of the Penang State Constitution?
Or do we see here a double-standard and a double-game here: where the Chief Minister goes out of his way to prove his ‘loyalty’ to UMNO leaders while at the same time irresponsibly playing ‘the China card’ to save Penang Gerakan’s flagging fortunes?
DAP congratulates Dr. Mahathir for a very successful China visit to promote closer economic relations between the two countries
In view of this irresponsible attempt by the Penang Chief Minister and Penang Gerakan to ‘play the China card’, let me reiterate that DAP fully supports the recent visit of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to China.
In fact, I wish on behalf of the DAP to congratulate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, for a very successful China visit to promote closer relations between the two countries, whether in trade, tourism or cultural exchange.
The DAP hopes that Dr. Mahathir’s meetings with Chinese national as well as provincial leaders during his 10-day visit will pave the way for the ‘leap forward’ in Malaysia’s relations with China and that the 32 memorandum of understanding involving business deals and joint ventures between Malaysian businessmen and Chinese corporations signed during the visit do not remain MOUs but are translated into successful projects.
Malaysia is still a very small player in the fastest-growing economy in the world with the world’s bigger population of 1.2 billion, which is expected to become the world’s largest economy in a generation or so.
Last year, direct foreign investments in China amounted to US $ 58.6 billion (RM 152 billion), while Malaysia’s share is only about US 500 million (RM 1.28 billion).
Malaysia and Penang have a great stake and interest in the further espansion of the economy in China and the raising of the living standards of the 1.2 billion Chinese, as this would greatly stimulate global trade and create large new markets for Malaysia while demand in the developed world slowed.
It is for this reason that I had earlier criticised Ysu Koon for not doing enough homework for the China trip to get an agreement for the establishment of a Chinese consulate in Penang during Dr. Mahathir’s second visit to China.
There is no reason why agreement could not be reached to establish a Chinese consulate in Penang in exchange for a Malaysian consulate in Xiamen during Dr. Mahathir’s second visit to China in view of the agreement to establish a Malaysian consulate in Kwantung and a Chinese consulate in Sarawak and the twinning of Penang and Xiamen if enough thought has been given groundwork laid before the China trip by the Penang Chief Minister.
This is an example where the Government could benefit from the advice of the Opposition if it had sought our views and opinions.
Challenge Penang State Government to hold a referendum to lert people of Penang decide whether they support DAP’s proposal of increase of two parliamentary and six state assembly seats or Barisan Nasional’s proposal of only three additional state seats
I had promised to give the Gerakan Exco member, Dr. Kang Chin Seng, a special lecture at this State Assembly meeting so that he could understand that there is no inconsistency or contradiction in Penang DAP’s stand on the increase in the number of State Assembly seats for Penang.
I discovered during question time yesterday however that it is not only Dr. Kang Chin Seng who needed such a special lecture but also other Barisan Nasional Assemblymen like the Assemblyman for Teluk Kumbar, Mohamed Zain, and even the Penang Chief Minister himself, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, who echoed the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad who was the first to declare that he was ‘confused’ by the Penang DAP Assemblymen’s inconsistent and contradictory stand on the issue, wanting an increase of eleven State Assembly seats in last November’s emergency State Assemlby sitting and now wanting an increase of six state assembly seats.
I would give Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, Dr. Kang Chin Seng and Mohamed Zain a course for prior reading before the special lecture later in this Assembly meeting, in particular my speech during the November 2 special State Assembly meeting. I refer them in particular to page 45 of the draft Penang State Assembly hansard for November 2, where I declared the Penang DAP stand on the question, which had been consistency upheld:
“The DAP is suggesting 44 State Assembly seats for Penang because there had been no increase of any parliamentary seat. A fair redelineation for Penang would have been 13 parliamentary seats and 39 State Assembly seats, which means an increase of six state assembly constituencies keeping the ration of one parliament to three state assembly seats.”
Yesterday, we saw the pathetic sight in the Penang State assembly of the Penang Ketua Letter Writer on the question of the increase of Parliamentary seats for Penang, highlighting his impotence and ineffectiveness with the Federal Government.
Tsu Koon was even more pathethic when he dared not respond to the Penang DAP Assembly demand that he table his letter to the Prime Minister and the Election Commission. He would have no hesitation in tabling such a letter if it was a good letter containing strong and convincing reasons why Penang deserve an increase of parliamentary seats. It is completely understandable why Tsu Koon would not want to table and make public the letter if his letter is a mere perfunctoru letter just to allow him to come to the State Assembly claiming that he had discharged his Chief Ministerial duties in sending off a letter to Kuala Lumpur!
I understand and sympathise with Tso Koon that he had to put up a brave show yesterday blaming DAP for Penang not having any increase of parliamentary seats.
He railed against the DAP for not submitting an amendment to the Constitution Amendment Bill in Parliament in May or moving a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to increase two new parliamentary constituencies for Penang.
Tsu Koon played the role of ‘ninja assassin’ of the Barisan Nasional to kill DAP private member’s bill to repeal Section 21 (2) of 1961 Education Act when he was MP for Tanjong.
Tsu Koon’s hypocrisy – which is another new quality he had mastered as Chief Minister – has to be seen to be believed!
Tsu Koon pretends to be foolish when he knows fully well that the DAP MPs could not move an amendment to the Constitution Amendment (No. 2) Bill 1993 because it was not about an amendment to Article 46 of the Federal Constitution on the composition of the Dewan Rakyat, but Article 113 on the review of redelineation of electoral constituencies by the Election Commission.
Nor could the DAP MPs move a private member’s bill to amend the Federal Constitution to amend Article 46 to increase two new parliamentary constituencies because such a private member’s bill will be ‘killed’ and would have no chance of being given time to be debated in Parliament.
Tsu Koon is fully versed with this as he was one of the ‘trained killers’ – ninja assassins – of DAP private member’s bill when he was a Member of Parliament – as he ‘killed’ the DAP private member’s bill to repeal Section 21 (2) of the 1961 Education Act, this is the supreme irony – the first task of the MP of Tanjong elected in 1982 to ‘Attack into the Barisan Nasional to rectify the Barisan Nasional’ was to carry out a Barisan Nasional mission to ‘kill’ the DAP’s private member’s bill to ensure that the character of the Chinese primary schools would not be destroyed.
This is why the Penang DAP wanted to wait first for the Penang State Assembly meeting to express unanimous support for the increase of two Parliamentary seats for Penang state by way of a motion, before presenting the State Assembly’s unanimous stand to the federal Governemtn and Parliament.
As the Penang State Assembly had not met this year until now, it is clearly not possible to present such a motion to the Federal Government and Parliament in time for the April/May meeting of Parliament.
However, Tsu Koon is wrong when he says that he ‘golden opportunity’ for such an amendment to the Federal Constitution had been lost in the May meeting of Parliament.
This is not the case, for in the July meeting of Parliament, there will be another opportunity to amend the Federal Constitution – the Constitution Amendment (No.3) Bill 1993. under the Prime Ministership of Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the Malaysian Constitution is amended every time Parliament meets – with the full and blind support of the Barisan Nasional MPs!
If the Penang Barisan Nasional State Government and backbenchers are prepared to join the DAP Assemblymen to present an unanimous motion to the Federal Governemnt and Parliament, there is ample time to get the Federal Government and Parliament to include an amendment to Article 46 to increase two additional Parliamentary seats for Penang State in the Constitution Amendment (No. 3) Amendment Bill 1993 which will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat nexyt month!
I have no doubt that the people of Penang are fully in support of the DAP proposal for an increase of two parliamentary and six state assembly seats for Penang, and if this is doubted by the Penang Barisan Nasional State Government, we challenge the Chief Minister ti hold a referendum to let the people of Penang the opportunity to decide whether they favour the DAP proposal for an increase of two parliamentary and six state assembly seats or the Barisan Nasional proposal to increase only three state assembly seats.
Penang State Assembly should lead a nation-wide movement for reform of the Senate so that it become a useful and productive second legislative chamber
Tsu Koon’s fear of holding more regular Assembly meetings means that Penang State had been without two Senators for four months, missing the special Parliamentary sitting in March as well as the April/May Parliamentary meeting opened by the Yang di Pertuan Agong – and two constitutional amendments bills had been passed during this period without any participation by Penang Senators.
This shows that even to the Barisan Nasional Penang State Government, it makes no difference whether the Dewan Negara has Penang Senators as it has become an utterly irrelevant Senate which has become the dumping ground for dubious Barisan Nasional leaders and nominees who could not enter Parliament from the front door.
This has been confirmed by the recent Dewan Negara meeting which disposed of seven bills in one day on 10th June, where there was no debate in one bill and perfunctory debate in four bills.
This is unheard-of in the Dewan Rakyat where DAP MPs alone who intended to speak on the various bills or motions would not find the chance to speak.
The Penang State Assembly should seriously consider whether we should continue this political charade of the Dewan Negara which is not only a ‘white elephant’ as it is an utter waste of public funds, but had completely failed to live up to the expectations of the founding fathers of the Merdeka Federal Constitution to fill the Senate with distinguished Malaysians who have excelled themselves in various professions and walks of life. The Barisan Nasional has used various professions and walks of life. The Barisan Nasional has used the Dewan Negara for its various component parties to dump their party hacks, whose sole qualification is that they should be even bigger ‘yes-men’ than the Barisan Nasional MPs in the Dewan Rakyat.
The Penang State has gone without its two Senators for four months, and nobody feels the loss. This shows that the Senate has become so irrelevant that nobody really bothers whether the Penang Satte Assembly nominates the two Senators or not.
The Penang State Assembly should take the lead in a national movement to demand the reform of the Dewan Negara so that it becomes a useful and productive second legislative chamber, or the Dewan Negara should be abolished altogether.
As a first step in this nation-wide demand for reform of he Dewan Negara, the Penang State Assembly can decide to keep unfilled the two Senate positions in Penang made vacant since March with the expiry of the terms of appointment of Tan Ghim Hwa and Abdul Rashid bin Ismail. This will be a protest against the present composition, structure, role and function of the Dewan Negara and a demand that it be replaced by an elective systems where Senators are elected directly by the people.
If the Penang State Chief Minister proposes to nominate the two Senators at the current meeting of the State Assembly, then he should consult the DAP Assemblymen, and if he could convince us that the nominees for the two Senate positions, regardless of party affiliation, are people who could breathe fresh air and reform into the Dewan Negara, then the DAP are prepared to give our support even if the nominees are card-carrying members of Gerakan and UMNI.
Koh Tsu Koon has forgotten his public pledge in March 1991 to make Penang the ‘cleanest in the country within a year’
The people of Penang will remember that in March 1991, after the Prime Minister, Datuk Ser Dr. Mahathir Mohamed dubbed Penang as the ‘Rubbish Bin of the Orient’, Dr. Koh declared that the Penang State Government would make the state the ‘cleanest in the country within a year’.
Although Dr. Mahathir said in his recent visit that Penang is ‘cleaner’, what has Dr. Koh to show for his pledge in March 1991 to make Penang the cleanest state in the country within a year?
In early April, the Penang Chief Minister was reported in local media as expressing his amazement at Malacca’s cleanliness.
This is the Berita Harian report of 12th April 1993 under the heading “Dr. Koh kagum kebersihan Melaka”:
“Melaka, Ahad – Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang, Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, menyifatkan Melaka sebagai sebuah negeri Bandaraya Bersejarah yang moden kerana mampu mengekalkan keindahan dan kebersihannya.
“Katanya, walaupun Melaka terkenal dengan sejarahnya keadaan kebersihan dan keindahan yang dikenalikan oleh Majlis Perbandaran Melaka Bandaraya Bersejarah (MPMBB) sangat membanggakan.
“Beliau mengucapkan tahniah kepada MPMBB kerana Berjaya mengekalkan prestasi sebagai bandaraya terbesih dan indan untuk kali kedua dalam pertandingan dan memenangi hadian RM500,000.
“Menurutnya, kejayaan MPMBB meraih kemenangan dua kali pada pertandingan yang sama dalam tempoh tiga tahun boleh dijadikan teladan kepada majlis penguasa tempatan yang lain dalam usaha meningkatkan imej kebersihan dan keindahan bandaraya masing=masing.
“Untuk tujuan itu, katanya, Kerajaan Pulau Pinang akan menghantar beberapa pegawai dan kakitangan dua majlis perbandaran di negeri itu ke Melaka untuk mendalami beberapa aspek kebersihan yang diamalkan olah MPMBB.”
It is clear that Dr. Koh Tsu Koon has forgotten his public pledge in March 1991 to make Penang state ‘the cleanest in the country within a year’.
Last year, Malacca won the challenge trophy and RM500,000 from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government as the most beautiful and cleanest town in the country, with Kuching and Alor Star winning second and third places.
In the last two years, neither of the two Penang Municipalities had been able to win anyone of the top three places for being the most beautiful and cleanest in the country, and for this the Penang Chief Minister must assume full responsibility.
Others as well, of course, must bear responsibility, like the State Executive Councillors who had put their jobs on the line in March 1991 to make Penang the ‘cleanest state within a year’, the MPPP president, Datuk Tan Ghim Hwa, the MPSP President, Zacharia Bakar and the municipal councillors.
Has Dr. Koh Tsu Koon sent Tan Ghim Hwa and Zacharia Bakar to Malacca to learn how to keep the Municipality clean and beautiful?
Tan Ghim Hwa is the highest-paid Municipal President in the country but he could not get MPPP into the first-three ranking as the cleanest and most beautiful Municipality in the country
The biggest culprits preventing Penang from being the ;cleanest in the country’ are the MPPP and MPSP themselves, as how could they expect the people to respond to the cleanliness campaign when the two municipalities are responsible for such extensive uncleared rubbish and clogged drains all over the state?
The Penang Government’s claim that Penang has many ‘firsts’ is true, although it is not always to the state’s favour or in the interest of the people.
For instance, the MPPP President, Datuk Tan Ghim Hwa, is the most highly paid municipal president in the whole country, much higher than the Municipal president of Malacca, Kuching and Alor Star – although he could not match them in keeping Penang island clean and beautiful.
In Parliament last month, I asked the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Datuk Ting Chew Peh for the salaries, allowances and perks of the five highest-paid Municipal Presidents/Chairmen in the country, and this is his answer:
Majlis Perbandaran Gaji Elaun Kereta
1. M.P. Pulau Pinang RM6,000 RM3,800 Mercedes 230
2. M.P. Johor Bahru RM4,276 RM1,125 Proton
3. M.P. Petaling Jaya RM4,276 RM625 Mercedes 200 E
4. M.P. Kota Bahru RM3,711 RM1,200 Mercedes 200
5. M.P. Taiping RM3,634 RM1,000 Volvo 240 GL
What has Tan Ghim Hwa to show in his second year as MPPP President?
Tan Ghim Hwa dare not even confirm that the MPPP Secretary, Tuan Haji Mohsin bin Mohd. Khir, is being investigated by both the MPPP and the Anti-Corruption Agency for abuses of power in carrying out renovations of his bungalow coating over RM 180,000.
Yesterday in the State Assembly, we saw the State Exco Member, Dr. Goh Cheng Teik, re-enacting the drama of the three monkeys – not seeing, not hearing and not speaking – when asked about progress report after several months of investigations into the case of the MPPP Secretary, Mohsin bin Mohd. Khir by the MPPP itself.
Tsu Koon should intervene with the Minister of Public enterprises Yusuf Nor to immediately resolve the problem of privatisation of the MPPP bus service and end the 10-year agony of the bus commuters
The Malacca Municipal Council, for instance, was recently awarded for a public services innovation for speedier approvals of building plans. According to the 1993 Public Services Report, the Majlis Perbandaran Melaka Tengah (MPMT) now takes three weeks to process a plan compared to three to nine months previously.
On the Penang island, apart from cleanliness, the public transportation and traffic congestion is another national disgrace.
The State Assembly was told yesterday for instance that the Public Enterprises Ministry had rejected the MPPP application to transfer the public service licence of the MPPP to South Johore Amalgamated Holdings Bhd for the privatisation of the MPPP bus service without any reasons being given.
This is shocking and most atrocious, reflecting most adversely both on the Ministry of Public Enterprises as well as on the MPPP President.
The MPPP bus service has 102 buses, half of which are not road-worthy. Tan Ghim Hwa claims that it was the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, who mooted the idea of privatising the MPPP bus service in 1983. I do not know whether this is true, but there is no doubt that for the last ten years, this idea of privatisation has been used by the Gerakan Srarw Government and the MPPP for not providing a proper and efficient bus service on the island,
This must be the first time where Dr. Mahathir’s name had been used not to promote efficiency but to justify inefficiency – and for this alone, the MPPP should be awarded the ‘worst public service innovation’!
The bus commuters on the Penang Island has suffered long enough in the last ten years and as it is beyond the level and capability of Tan Ghim Hwa to resolve this problem, the Penang Chief Minister should immediately intervene with the Minister of Public Enterprises, Dr. Yusof Nor, to end the 10-year agony of the commuters.
The Penang State Governemnt, which is responsible for MPPP, cannot disclaim responsibility for allowing the Penang Island bus service to continue to deterioriate and the sufferings of the bus commuters for the last ten years on the ground that it was being privatised.
Koh Tsu Koon’s confusion between IPP and APP another indication tha it is Dr. Ibrahim Saad who wields the real power in the Penang State Government
It is evident during question time yesterday that the Penang Chief Minister is vert confused over the question of IPP and APP Chief Minister is very confused over the question of IPP and APP for generating power to help resolve the national energy crisis.
In fact, the Governor’s address said: “As part of its long-term plan to increase power production, Tenaga Nasional Berhad, together with the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, is assessing the feasibility of expanding and upgrading the Bukit Gelugor power plant through the concept of Independent Power Plant (IPP).”
During question time yesterday, Tsu Koon also referred at first to the Bukit Glugor project as an IPP. This is the first time anyone, had described the Bukit Glugor Project as an IPP, s it had all along, whether at the Federal or State level, been described as an APP.
Thus, in the Star of 12th March 1993, the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, announced that Tenaga Nasional Bhd. and Kumpulan Pinang Sdn. Bhd. had agreed to join forces to upgrade the Glugor power station under a RM1.8 billion project to increase the power capacity of the station from 45 megawatts to 625 megawatts. He said the Finance Ministry had given the greenlight to proceed with the project under the concept of Associated Power Producer (APP) and that it is expected to be fully operational in 1996.
Dr. Koh Tsu Koon is not only confused between IPP and APP concepts and projects, but clearly knows far less than his deputy, Dr. Ibrahim Saad. Is this another proof and indication that it is Dr. Ibrahim Saad and not Dr. Koh Tsu Koon who wields the real power in the Penang State Government?
In this connection, the industries in Penang have urged the Tenaga Nasional Bhd. to relax conditions for extending subsidies to factories wishing to buy their own generators. The Penang State Government should give full backing to this proposal to enable more factories to own generators to produce electricity so as to prevent disruptions to their operations during load shedding and power cuts by Tenaga Nasional.
Penang should set the lead to turn itself into the centre for higher education in South East Asia by abolishing the quota system for university places
It is encouraging that the Penang State Government has acknowledged in the Yang di Pertuan Negeri’s address that “Basic to all the efforts in developing the economy is human resource development”.
In April, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed made a proposal in Penang that Malaysia should become the centre of higher learning for South East Asia. If Malaysia is to become the centre for higher education in South East Asia, then Penang must be one of such centres.
It has been estimated by university academicians and experts that Malaysia is short of graduates and the country needs at least 18 more universities, as Malaysia is facing the dilemma where progress is impeded by the lack of skilled expertise.
Malaysia, which is aiming to become the fifth ‘Little Dragon’, to compares unfavourably with other nations on the percentage of the 20 to 24 years age-group enrolled in tertiary education. According to the 1992 World Development Report, in 1989, Malaysia has seven per cent in this age group enrolled in tertiary education, while the percentage for other countries are: Canada 66 per cent; United States 63 per cent; Japan 31 per cent; South Korea 38 per cent; Thailand 16 per cent and the Philippines 28 per cent.
If Malaysia is to achieve Vision 2020 of becoming a fully developed nation, then it must learn the most important lessons from the economic success stories of Japan and the four ‘Little Dragon’ – Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
All these countries are totally bereft of natural resources. Japan, for instances, has to import virtually all its own petroleum and the raw materials it needs to produce its higher-value-added exports.
The secret of their success was their reliance and use of their human resources, creating public education systems which are intensely competitive and pushing meritocracy to new limits to ensure that the best and brightest are channelled into society’s most productive and important sectors/
I am glad that recently, even the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Ibrahim Saad, seems to be making some rational proposals, as in urging the Immigration Department to reduce the bureaucracy involved in the issuance of student visas to enable Malaysia to become an international education centre.
He said that the current hassle in obtaining student visas could be a deterrent to foreigners seeking education here, and referred to the delays encountered by foreign students in the International Islamic University in procuring their student visas.
I hope Dr. Ibrahim Saad wants Malaysia to be the centre for higher education in South East Asia and not just the centre for higher Islamic education in South East Asia.
Koh Tsu Koon should open the way for another prestigious Australian university apart from Sydney University which wanted to establish a medical college in Penang
For this proposal to be realised, there is a need for more liberal and enlightened government attitudes and policies on higher education. For instance, there should be a doubling or trebling of universities and university places in Malaysia (whether public or private) as it is ridiculous to talk about wanting to make Malaysia the centre of higher education in South East Asia for students from neighbouring countries when we cannot find local places for 80 per cent of Malaysians pursuing higher studies overseas.
Furthermore, policies which militate against the objectives of making Malaysia the centre of higher education in Malaysia should be modified. I understand for instance that a prestigious Australian university with s medical faculty with international repute had wanted to establish a medical college in Penang, but had been put off by education policies like the quota requirements.
I am not referring to the Penang International Education Technology Centre which has established in conjunction with Sydney University. I would urge the Penang Chief Minister to do all he could to secure such a prestigious medical college for Penang, which would not be a great asset for Penang but a great contribution to relieving the acute doctor shortage in the country.
If Penang Government is serious about making Penang a centre of higher education in Malaysia, then Penang should take the lead where open and liberal education policies could be pursed to achieve this end. For a start, the quotas requirement for entry into university places, whether public or private, should be abolished.