Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 25th April 2008
Lee Kah Choon saga - opportunity lost for Malaysian leaders to emulate voters in March 8 “political tsunami” to rise above race, religion and political differences to work single-mindedly for the good of the people, state and country
The Lee Kah Choon saga is an opportunity lost for Malaysian leaders emulate the Malaysian voters in the March 8 “political tsunami” to rise above race, religion and political differences to work single-mindedly for the good of the people, state and country.
In the last Parliament, in keeping with the perverse notion of “Support Barisan Nasional, right or wrong”, a new rule was formulated for all Barisan Nasional MPs that they cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line.
As a result, the then Chairman of the Barisan Nasional Back Benchers Club, Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad (now Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister) was forced in May 2006 to resign from his post to avoid disciplinary action against him for speaking up in favour of my privilege motion in Parliament to refer the then MP for Jasin, Mohd Said Yusuf to the Committee of Privileges over the impropriety of an MP asking the Customs and Excise Department to “close one eye” in a case involving the import of sawn timber in Malacca.
It was in disgust at such obtuse and petty-minded mentality where individual and party interests were placed above parliamentary, public and national interests that the Malaysian voters rose as one to teach the Barisan Nasional a salutary lesson in the March 8 “political tsunami”, depriving the BN of its hitherto unbroken two-thirds majority in Parliament and power in five states.
In the March 8, 2008 general election, Malaysian voters crossed ethnic, religious and even party lines to vote for change and the Lee Kah Choon saga would have been one opportunity for Barisan Nasional leaders to demonstrate that they have heard the voices of the people and are prepared to emulate the voters’ example to put aside personal and party differences for the betterment of the people, state and nation.
Initially the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi sent out the right signals in his first public reaction on Tuesday on Lee’s appointment and acceptance of the posts of Penang Development Corporation (PDC) director and Invest Penang executive committee chairman – that for him, “it’s okay as long as there is no clash in policy”.
However, in a matter of a few hours on the same day, Abdullah was prevailed upon to ignore the voices of the people in the March 8 “political tsunami” and to come out with a hardline stand declaring that Lee’s decision was “against the spirit of BN” and requiring action from the Acting Gerakan President, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon.
The latest pronouncement on the matter came from Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Barisan Nasional Chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday that Lee’s acceptance of the two Penang state government positions was against the “clearly stated policy of BN” – making it the most unknown “clearly stated” BN policy as the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and BN leaders had not known about it for 48 hours!
One important reason why Malaysia had lagged behind other countries in economic development and international competitiveness in the past four decades is because of the country’s failure to give top priority to meritocracy and excellence in nation-building.
The Lee Kah Choon saga shows that the Barisan Nasional government and leaders have yet to hear the voices of the March 8 political tsunami who want Malaysian leaders to emulate the voters in transcending ethnic, religious and political differences to work for the betterment or the people, state and nation by creating a new culture of talent and merit unsullied by partisan considerations.