Greatest sympathy for the Penang MCA duo for the unjust, cowardly and new-fangled decision of the MCA Presidential Council to indefinitely suspend their party membership
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Tuesday): The two Penang MCA State Assembly members, Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (Datuk Keramat) deserve the fullest sympathy for the unjust, cowardly and new-fangled decision of the MCA Presidential Council to indefinitely suspend their party membership for abstaining in the vote on the motion by the DAP Assemblyman for Batu Lanchang, Law Heng Kiang in the recent Penang State Assembly to defer the RM1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.
It is most deplorable that having got their “pound of flesh”, Gerakan leaders like its President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and its secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye are still not satisfied and still want “a pint of blood” from the Penang MCA duo, with Keng Yaik dismissing the disciplinary action as “insincerity towards the BN” and “selfishness …taken without care for the spirit of BN” while Chia condemned it as a “farce” when the “right and honourable thing” was to expel them.
In fact, in the spirit of the Chinese saying of “get an inch and want a foot”, Keng Yaik and the Gerakan leaders are demanding for the “head” of the Penang MCA State Chairman, Wong Kam Hoong, accusing him of being the “instigator” behind the Penang MCA duo. If by abstaining in the DAP motion on PORR, the Penang MCA duo had acted in breach of Barisan Nasional discipline warranting “indefinite suspension”, then the “instigator” should face an even heavier penalty which could only mean dismissal as parliamentary secretary to the Ministry of Domestic and Consumer Affairs and expulsion of party membership.
What is most deplorable and even tragic is that in the intense inter and intra power struggle among the Barisan Nasional component parties, the rights and interests of the people of Penang in opposing the PORR project and demanding a full review on its viability, propriety and legitimacy had been completely sidetracked and forgotten.
After the decision of the MCA Presidential Council on the Penang MCA duo yesterday, two very pertinent statements were made by MCA leaders on PORR.
After the MCA Presidential Council meeting, Penang MCA adviser Datuk Dr Sak Cheng Lum expressed the hope that the decision would end finger-pointing over the PORR issue and said: “The sad point is that it is all a hue and cry at the expense of the people’s well-being”. (The Star)
The statement by the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik was simply astounding, as when asked on MCA’s stand on the PORR, he said:
“The PORR is not a Federal Government project and we don't have a clue what it involves. It is a Penang outer ring road, not a Federal Territory or Johor outer ring road… As far as we're concerned, we don't want to make a stand on something we know nothing about.” (New Straits Times, The Sun)
Firstly, what Ling said is in direct contradiction to the claim by another Cabinet Minister, Keng Yaik, who said only three days ago that PORR is a Federal Government project to justify his public castigation of Wong Kam Hoong as “instigator” of the Penang MCA duo and an anti-PORR group and why Gerakan would file an official complaint against Wong with the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council as the behaviour of a BN MP and parliamentary secretary in opposing a Federal Government project cannot be condoned.
Secondly, after more than a year of public controversy over PORR, even if it is not a federal project as Ling claimed, isn’t it the most elementary duty of the MCA leadership to get itself fully briefed and informed about its viability, merit, propriety and legitimacy so that it has all the “clues” about PORR and take a stand on whether it is in the interests of the people and island of Penang for the project to continue without a full public review?
Thirdly, hasn’t Liong overstayed his usefulness to the people and nation when he seems to be the only Cabinet Minister who does not have “any clue” about PORR despite a year-long controversy?
The MCA B Team is very conspicuous by its absence at the MCA Presidential Council meeting over the Penang MCA duo issue, represented only by Fu Ah Kiow who abstained, resulting in a vote of 16 in favour and one abstention.
The question arises as to the meaning of the abstention by Fu Ah Kow on behalf of the other MCA Team B leaders, namely party deputy president Datuk Seri Datuk Lim Ah Lek, vice presidents Datuk Chua Jui Meng and Datuk Chan Kong Choy and Youth chief Datuk Ong Tee Keat.
Fu Ah Kow’s “abstention” could mean one of two things - that the “indefinite suspension” of party membership of Tan and Lim are too harsh or too lenient.
MCA Team B leaders should make clear their stand on the disciplinary action taken by the MCA Presidential Council on the Penang MCA duo and not wait to see the reactions of the top UMNO leadership for the signal as to which direction the “wind” blows to only declare their stand.
Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has asked for clarification of the meaning of “indefinite suspension” - whether it means that Tan and Lim are suspended until the end of their respective terms as BN elected representatives or for a short period, which he described as “meaningless” and “not commensurate with the gravity of the offence committed”.
The disciplinary action meted out to the Penang MCA duo violates the established principles of all punishments and sentences, that they should be just, fair, clear and certain.
MCA secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Ting Chew Peh said the two are still MCA members but have lost their rights in the party, including using party resources.
But does the “indefinite suspension” of the Penang MCA duo also means that they have forfeited the right to be renominated by MCA to contest as Barisan Nasional candidates in the next general election?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman