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Speech at The
“Promote Democracy, Defend Teng Chang Khim” Forum
by Lim Guan Eng
(Melaka, Wednesday): Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should direct UMNO Menteri Besars and Chief Ministers to stop the unfair persecution of DAP State Assemblypersons by preventing them from voicing out and suspending them from the State Assembly. The suspension of Selangor State Opposition Leader Teng Chang Khim for 30 months, the attempt to physically assault DAPSY Chair and Perak State Assemblyperson Nga Ko Ming and the rejection of motions and questions raised by Melaka and Negeri Sembilan State Assemblies not only threatens democracy but also a civil society.
Teng was suspended for 30 months when he protested against the refusal of the Selangor State Assembly Speaker to accept his motion of no-confidence against Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Mohd Khir Toyo. This is an act of political vengeance and cover-up of all the corruption and abuse of power that Teng was trying to expose.
Clearly democracy in state assemblies is in danger. The people are denied the right of having their elected representatives play a proper role in exposing corruption and abuse of power. Malaysia should be a model of democracy, integrity and accountability in ASEAN and not behave like Myanmar in oppressing and denying the right of the opposition to play their role in preserving democracy.
Myanmar’s economy has failed due to the lack of democracy. Only democratic countries can become developed economies. Even China has realized that the route to achieving 2020 vision is through establishing democratic values, as shown by the democratic election of local councils.
For Malaysian states to achieve developed status, there should be greater democratization not increased repression. When Selangor unilaterally announced that it had achieved developed state status last month, there was no opposition left to expose such dishonest self-deception that:
• Selangor is more developed than New Zealand,
• Selangor has better university education than Singapore;
• Selangor is less corrupt and cleaner than Belgium.
Selangor even claim a per capita income of US$12,876 (RM48,928.80) but how many Selangorians, particularly those living in squatter homes, have that sense of well-being from earning RM 4,000/- monthly?
In Melaka, the government refuses to answer about the destruction of Bukit Beruang Forest Reserve, the only forest reserve in Melaka Tengah; or why Kolej Universiti Teknikal Kebangsaan preferred to spend RM 1.5 million in rental as compared to RM 3000,000 per month, an extra RM 15 million a year; or why they continue to appoint criminals to top positions to government statutory bodies; or why UMNO MBMB Councillors can owe RM 41,000/- in rental without any action being taken whilst an ordinary Chinese businessman can lose his stall even though he did not owe a single month’s rental.
Only by strengthening the opposition, can we ensure the survival of democracy at both the federal and state level. Having an opposition only at the federal level will only turn the state government to a dictatorship unresponsive to the people. The absence of a strong opposition has made Sarawak one of the most corrupt states in Malaysia, where the government can spend RM 400 million to build a State Assembly that is used less than one month a year.
BN is aiming for zero opposition in the next elections. If BN succeeds, then there will not only be zero democracy but also zero hope for ordinary Malaysians to share equitably in the fruits of a developed nation.
MCA and MCA Youth secretary-general Wee Ka Siong have no right to remind DAP leaders of how we got our citizenship and their right of political involvement. If MCA feels so proud about gaining citizenship rights for Malaysians, why is it MCA Wanita Chief Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen became an Australian permanent resident when she was appointed as a MCA Senator?
MCA Youth is very courageous in supporting UMNO Youth’s demand that DAP apologise for glorifying the Communist Party and denying the role played by Tunku Abdul Rahman as Bapa Merdeka, even though they could not show any evidence. Where is MCA’s courage in demanding that Indonesia apologise and pay compensation for endangering our health from the haze caused by the indiscriminate burning of forests?
For Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen’s case, DAP can show proof that she obtained permanent residence when she was appointed to various positions in the party and remained as one when she was appointed as Senator. By taking up permanent residency in the 1980s and 1990s, Ng shows her lack of faith in the government policies.
Such permanent residency may be interpreted as having divided loyalties. DAP have no objections to those wishing to hold permanent residency in other countries but not when they offer themselves as leaders pledging undivided love and loyalty to the country. Whilst I do not wish for this moment to question her patriotism or love for her country, MCA should stop reminding DAP leaders how they obtained their citizenship when MCA leaders do not practice what they preach.