Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 19th October 2008: 

Why is DAP blamed for Ka Ting’s “Umno is bully in Barisan Nasional” speech at MCA General Assembly yesterday?

Why is the DAP blamed for the outgoing MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting’s “Umno is bully in Barisan Nasional” speech at the MCA General Assembly opening ceremony yesterday?

Ong’s speech led to denials by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi resulting in newspaper frontpage headlines like “UMNO IS NO BULLY” (New Sunday Times) and “Umno bukan pembuli: PM” (Berita Minggu), who instead blamed the DAP for “stirring up the issue to see the split of the MCA or Gerakan” as well as Hindraf for targetting the MIC.

Abdullah caught everyone by surprise by his bald denial.

He said Umno “is not a ‘bully’ party” or many component parties would have left BN by now, and asked:

“Do you think Ka Ting allows himself to be bullied? You think (MIC president) Samy (Vellu) can be bullied? You think (Gerakan president Dr. Koh) Tsu Koon wants to be bullied?”

Abdullah has forgotten an elementary rule of life – “don’t ask if you don’t want the answer”!

Does he really want the answer to that loaded question of his? Don’t have to ask the Malaysian public. Just ask the MCA, Gerakan and MIC delegates or members through secret ballot whether they think their leaders have been bullied by Umno in Barisan Nasional, and I have no doubt that the answer would be a resounding and thundering “yes’!

In fact, one of the saddest political episodes of Barisan Nasional post-March 8 “political tsunami” is the response of the leaders of the BN component parties when asked by the press for their response to Abdullah’s “Umno is no bully” response.

Neither Tsu Koon nor Samy Vellu dared to fully back up Ka Ting, who himself backed off subsequently by saying that he never said Umno is a bully!

What I find most disturbing is Abdullah’s statement: “People say that Umno is a party that likes to bully. I actually have no idea how to bully. There is no such thing as bullying.”

I believe Abdullah was speaking the truth that there is not a bone of a bully in him.

That is what is frightening. After half-a-century of Umno political hegemony, Umno bullying in BN has become so institutionalized to perpetuate and increasingly aggravate such travesty of “power sharing”, even though the top No. 1 UMNO leader like Abdullah does not know how to be a bully!

There is no need for the top No. 1 or No. 2 Umno leader to be a bully, when the UMNO bullies at the various hierarchies of the party are allowed a field day!

Abdullah’s denial about Umno bullying in BN does not bear scrutiny – as there is a long catalogue from the recent past, whether the keris-wielding by Umno Youth leader and Education Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein or the offensive and insensitive statements by the Deputy Umno Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin or to the most recent times, such as Umno Bukit Bendera division chairman, Ahmad Ismail’s “Chinese are penumpang” outburst or the tearing up of Tsu Koon’s photograph by Penang Umno leaders.

In fact, Abdullah gave an illustration of the irrelevance of the views of top leaders of MCA and other BN leaders yesterday when he summarily dismissed the MCA President’s call for a review of the Internal Security Act, as it is “obsolete and should be replaced with one that is not subject to abuse or cause people to feel insecure”.

Last week, the 37th Gerakan national delegates conference also adopted a resolution calling for a review of the ISA.

If the Barisan Nasional is a coalition of equals, and Umno is not a bully, will the considered views of leaders of BN component parties and the resolutions of their party conferences be dismissed so derisively and summarily, like the call for the review of the ISA?

What happened yesterday at the MCA General Assembly was doubly pathetic:

• firstly, no leader of the BN component parties dared to stand up to admit boldly about Umno being a bully which should end it “bully” ways in BN; and

• secondly, none of them dared to correct Abdullah by pointing out that was most unfair to use the DAP as a “scapegoat” for the public perception that MCA, Gerakan and the other BN component parties were being bullied by Umno when it represented the true situation.

Maybe the MCA delegates in their debate in the 55th MCA General Assembly would dare to speak up what their leaders have failed to do about the truth of Umno being a bully in BN and the need to end such lop-sided power relationship in the BN coalition.

Be that as it may, it is quite obvious from the MCA party election results that Ong Ka Ting was well-advised to withdraw from the MCA presidential contest, for he would have been defeated – and quite decisively - had he decided to defend his post as MCA President.

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor