Two proposals for Abdullah to uphold his "Mr. Clean" image - high-powered Police/ACA task force and an all-party conference to declare war on "black gold" politics to eradicate triad politics, money politics and the fusion of organized crime and corruption

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Monday): Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik would submit a report to him soon on the outcome of investigations on two party members alleged by the MCA Youth leader, Datuk Ong Tee Kiat, to be involved in "black gold" politics. Ong had given Abdullah the two names in their meeting on Friday.

On his part, Ling said he would call up the two persons to assist in the investigations, which would focus on three areas: whether they are MCA members; if they are triad members and to investigate their backgrounds.

The latest developments over Ong's serious allegation of "black gold" politics in MCA raise many questions as they give the impression that the grave issue of "black gold" politics which corrupts the political system, the economic system, the rule of law and social justice, is not being handled with the necessary gravity and professionalism but more as an elaborate power-play by competing political factions.

In the first place, are the two names given by Ong to Abdullah all the evidence he has got about "black gold" politics in MCA? Even more pertinent, did Ong agree with Abdullah on Friday that the Acting Prime Minister should give the two names to the MCA President for the MCA leadership to conduct a full and thorough investigation? If so, why could'nt Ong give the two names to Ling directly instead and had to use the Acting Prime Minister as his "postman"?

Ong had refused to publicly "name names" or give the names to the MCA top leadership as there was "no guarantee of personal safety". Has he been given a full "guarantee of personal safety" to allow the "names" to be given to Ling, or was he caught completely unawares by Abdullah's passing of the two names to Ling?

What is of even greater concern, however, is the manner Ong's serious allegation of "black gold" politics is being addressed.

"Black gold" politics is no ordinary criminality involving a few individuals but a national and systemic curse and threat to society as it is a fusion of organized crime with corruption to subvert the political system, economic system, the rule of law and social justice.

As the serious allegation of "black gold" politics had been publicly made, not merely by an ordinary citizen but a Deputy Minister and MCA Youth leader, it is no more a matter just concerning the MCA power struggle between its two factions, but one vitally affecting the very integrity of the Malaysian socio-political and justice system.

As Acting Prime Minister, Abdullah is neither the investigatory nor law enforcement arm of the government. If he had been provided with evidence of "black gold" politics by Ong, the first thing he should have done was to immediately refer them either to the police or the Anti-Corruption Agency for the most thorough investigation and severe action to be taken.

But Abdullah had not done this for the past three days, while his directive to the MCA President to resolve the MCA crisis immediately had been used by the two MCA factions to justify their respective positions - including to condone or "cover-up" "black gold" politics.

There was bad news for Malaysia on the corruption front last week, when the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd. (PERC) revealed its annual survey among 1,072 foreign company executives working in Asia and found that Malaysia was one of the seven countries where corruption was perceived as having worsened as a problem in the past year.

Two days ago, DAP MP for Tanjong, Chow Kon Yeow received a death threat with two bullets for conscientiously discharging his duties as an elected representative, speaking up for the rights and aspirations of the people for a better quality of life.

These are serious signs of the increasing corruption of the political system and the infiltration of triad politics.

Ong's serious allegation of "black gold" politics could not have come at a more critical time, and why it has become a test-case as to whether the Malaysian government under a new leader would have the political will to declare an all-out war against corruption in all its forms.

I do not believe Abdullah wants to condone or be involved in any "cover up" of "black gold" politics, which would seriously compromise his reputation as "Mr. Clean" even before he became Prime Minister in October, as he made a very strong and good speech against corruption on his first day as Acting Prime Minister when speaking to the Oxbridge Society on March 6, denouncing the "Ugly Malaysian" and the "First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality" malaise in Malaysia.

I urge Abdullah to send out an unmistakable signal of his commitment as "Mr. Clean" who would not compromise with corruption, let alone "black gold" politics, by adopting two measures:

  • Establish a high-level task force from the highest ranks of the police and the Anti-Corruption Agency to identify and root out "black gold" politics; and

  • Convene an all-party conference to declare war on "black gold" politics - to eradicate triad politics, money politics and the fusion of organized crime and corruption

Ong had made very serious allegations of grand corruption, grave ethical breaches and abuses of power on Friday, when he said he did not commit three offences - selling classified information to foreign businessmen for personal profit, being a permanent resident of a foreign country even before he was appointed deputy minister and having assets worth hundreds of millions of ringgit. (New Straits Times 15.3.03)

Malaysians now know that Ong was referring to MCA Wanita chief Datuk Dr. Ng Yen Yen on the permanent resident allegation. The MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Lim Ah Lek has owned up that Ng had misled the MCA and the government in claiming that she was no more a permanent resident of Australia when she was appointed as Senator in 1993.

Ah Lek said the appointment of a Senator who is a PR in a foreign country "brings disrepute to the Senate" and in her particular case, also to the Pahang exco and to the Pahang legislative assembly as her senatorial appointment was from the Pahang quota. (New Sunday Times 16.3.03)

Malaysians want to know how the government and MCA propose to deal with such grave ethical breaches and to give a satisfactory accounting on this episode after its expose.

The next question is: Who are the MCA leaders implicated in the other two allegations: those who sell information to foreign businessmen for personal profit and those who have assets worth hundreds of millions of ringgit, which must be from dishonest and ill-gotten means!

Are these two allegations connected to Ong's "black gold" politics, and if not, he should publicly name names and give full details, as his contribution to root out corruption and abuses of power in Malaysia.

Has Abdullah been given information and evidence by Ong to substantiate these two other allegations, and if so, what is he doing about them, as he should not be seen to be either condoning such crimes or be involved in any form of a "cover-up".


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman