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Shahrir’s call for Rafidah’s resignation unfair – Rafidah should resign for mishandling the APs issue and not for trying to defend her AP responsibility


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Penang, Sunday):Barisan Backbenchers Club Chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad has called for the resignation of the  Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz for commenting on the Approved Permits (AP) issue despite a cabinet “gag” on her.

Shahrir said Rafidah  should quit if she finds it hard to respect the cabinet’s decision not to comment on the issue of AP and that she “should stop making a fool of herself by talking about matters which are no longer under her ministry”.

Nobody can fault Shahrir for demanding Rafidah’s resignation for mishandling of the APs saga, but it is not fair for Shahrir to demand for Rafidah’s resignation for allegedly violating a Cabinet “gag” on her on the APs issue for two reasons:

  • There is no such Cabinet “gag”, not from the four-paragraph statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, which said “she need not  make any further  statements to the media on the AP issue until the new National Automotive Policy is announced”.  This gives Rafidah  the  sole discretion whether to make further statements on AP, and to give her Cabinet cover if she does not want to do so.

  • It goes against the principles of accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance to give Rafidah the  immunity and impunity from having to explain and justify for her mishandling of the APs issue for the past 18 years.

The Prime Minister and the Cabinet have the powers to strip Rafidah of two strategic functions of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the drafting of the National Automotive Policy and the review of the issuance of APs, but they cannot impose  a blanket ban on all public discussion and demand for accountability for her mishandling of the AP issue  for the past 18 years – which would be unfair to both the Malaysian public as well as to Rafidah herself.

Rafidah has a 29-page explanation to prove that   all she had done in the past 18 years as Minister for International Trade and Industry on the APs issue were right, above-board and in the best interests of the government and people.  If so, why shouldn’t Rafidah be allowed to release her 29-page explanation and let the Malaysian public be the best  judge of the matter?

Shahrir should be supporting greater accountability and transparency on Rafidah’s part instead of invoking an imaginary Cabinet “gag” to bar   Rafidah from putting up a defence of her 18-year responsibility of the APs issue.  Shahrir should demand for Rafidah’s resignation for failing to give satisfactory explanation for her 18-year handling of the APs issue and not for failing to keep “mum” on the ground of an imaginary Cabinet “gag” order.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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