DAP wants a national consensus on Ng Yen Yen's PR controversy, whether PR signifies disloyalty and whether Ng Yen Yen can continue as Deputy Minister or should resign

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Friday): The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim in a late night report in Bernama yesterday said that the issue of Deputy Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen resigning her post in the MCA and government does not arise.

Rais said that it was just "a question of morals and ethics". He said:"Under the law, there is nothing that applies to her in this case but the questionable element could just be that she did not inform the authority in 1993 when she was appointed a Senator. It is not an offence... it is also not something criminal."

In a matter of 24 hours, Rais had undergone a major transformation of his position on the issue of Ng Yen Yen's PR status, after the reports in yesterday's Utusan Malaysia and Malaysiakini last evening.

In both Utusan Malaysia and Malaysiakini, Rais took the uncompromising position that Ng Yen Yen's past status as an Australian permanent resident while serving as senator was "morally untenable though not legally wrong… as people who hold public office should not withhold information on their foreign PR status which is pertinent to be known by the public".

Rais had said: "If a public office holder has a PR status for whatever reason - whether it is because of his or her children or for business efficacy, it does not harm him or her to declare it to the public. In other countries, if such things happened, those concerned would have resigned.

"There are no legal implications. But it concerns the morals, value system and disposition of a government leader, even if the person has relinquished the PR status."

Whatever the reason for Rais' radical modification of his position on Ng Yen Yen's PR status in three hours from the Malaysiakini report posted at 6.46 p.m. and the Bernama report posted at 9.52 p.m. yesterday, Rais' latest position remains most ambiguous and even unfortunate, giving currency to the view that it was all right for Ministers and Deputy Ministers to be unethical and immoral, provided it is something which is not illegal in the strict sense of the law.

If this is the considered position of the Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional leadership, then let them come out with a clear guideline to all Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders that they can be unethical and immoral provided they do not do anything illegal!

May be, the Barisan Nasional would come out with a new slogan for the next general election about the leadership commitments of Barisan Nasional candidates - "Illegal - No! Immoral and Unethical - OK!"

But what are the real implications of Ng Yen Yen's PR status in particular and the question of Malaysians having foreign PRs in general?

The MCA Youth through its secretary-general Liow Tiong Lai, representing the MCA "B" faction, has taken the strong position that Ng Yen Yen had committed "a very big offence because it shows that she is not loyal to the country and Yang di-Pertuan Agong".

MCA "A" faction had countered in their propaganda on the ground with the allegation that a top MCA "B" leader was known to have foreign PR status before taking up a high government appointment - which must be cleared by the MCA B leaders with individual clarification if they regard Ng Yen Yen as having committed a "very big offence" of disloyalty to the King and country in becoming Senator with her Australian PR status.

DAP calls for a national consensus on Ng Yen Yen's PR controversy, whether PR signifies disloyalty and whether Ng Yen Yen can continue as Deputy Minister or should resign.

I would like to see greater public discussion on this question, not just focused on Ng Yen Yen or revolving around the new round of power struggle between the MCA "A" and "B" factions, but addressing the whole question of Malaysians with PRs in another country - their proper place and contribution to Malaysian society and nation.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman