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Shame that Sothinathan is not prepared to admit his wrong in challenging woman DAP MP Fong Po Kuan to a fist-fight and is instead trying to deny the undeniable

Media Conference (2)         
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): It is shame that MIC National Vice President and Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk S. Sothinathan is not prepared to admit his wrong in challenging woman DAP MP Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah) to a fist-fight and is instead trying to deny the undeniable.

Yesterday, Sothinathan said: “No man in the right frame of mind would physically fight with a lady. Not in our culture.”

Sothinathan is right this time, and this is why his “right frame of mind” came under question when he challenged Po Kuan to a physical fight and not to an electoral contest in the next general election as he now claims.

Eye-witness accounts of what happened in Parliament on Monday are more reliable and better testimony than Sothinathan of the despicable behavior of the MIC National Vice President on Monday.

The body language of Sothinathan was so unmistakable that the Chinese newspapers, Sin Chew Daily, Nanyang Siang Pau, China Press, Sin Min, Oriental Daily the next day reported the next day that Sothinathan had challenged me to a physical fight outside the Chamber.

The Chinese newspapers were wrong as Sothinathan did not challenge me to a fight. The challenge was directed at Po Kuan in the expanded exchange between DAP MPs with BN MPs.

The mistake of the Chinese newspapers is understandable as there was a lot of confusion in the Chamber at the time, with voices coming from all directions in Parliament. A video of the parliamentary episode is available on YouTube.

This is what Hansard of 19th November 2007 recorded of this challenge by Sothinathan directed at Po Kuan:

Dato’ S. G. Sothinathan: Siapa takut? Berani, mari lawanlah!!

Tuan Pengerusi: [Datuk Dr. Yusuf bin Yacob]: Ya, ya, Timbalan Menteri, teruskan, teruskan.

Dato’ S. G. Sothinathan: Oh, cakap macam lelaki bukan? Mari lawan, mari lawan!! Jangan cakap no gender bias.

A poster on my blog, Jeffrey, had delivered the most eloquent rebuttal of Sothinathan’s denial of the undeniable in his following comment on my blog on the thread “Sothinathan challenging Po Kuan to a “fight” on YouTube” yesterday:

Sothinathan denied challenging Po Kuan to a fist-fight. At the press conference, Sothinathan clarified that in politics, the term ‘fight’ refers to elections and not to the exchange of blows. He has given the word “fight” a twist.

To divine what he meant one must look at the context in which the “fight” was mentioned.

He said, Siapa takut? Cakap seperti seorang lelaki bukan? Berani, mari lawan lah. Jangan cakap “gender bias!”

When he told the person he addressed not to raise “gender bias”, he obviously meant, in context, “fist-fight” in respect to which the issue of gender inequality only arises, since it is common nowadays for women to contest in elections in respect to which the question of gender bias does not arise at all.

It is apparent that in the heat of arguments he directed the challenge of a fist-fight to Po Kuan, whether he actually meant it or not.

As Sothinathan in his moment of lucidity has admitted that “No man in the right frame of mind would physically fight with a lady”, the MIC National Vice President should do the only decent thing open to him – stop being a lout, stop prevaricating and to unconditionally apologize for his boorish behavior in challenging Po Kuan to a fight in Parliament on Monday.

If Sothinanthan continues to be obstinate, unapologetic and unrepentant, we will leave it to the people of Malaysia to decide as we will show the video clip of the boorish behavior of the MIC National Vice President which is available on YouTube all over the country.

The parliamentary fracas on Monday erupted because Sothinathan came out with the classic Barisan Nasional “red herring” that I was trying to “politicize” the Kedah quit rent controversy, where 120,000 signatures of protest had been collected from a broad cross-section of Kedahans of all races and which had been submitted to the Kedah Menteri Besar last Sunday.

Let all face the brutal reality - nobody in Malaysia can run away from politics. It affects every aspect of one's life. Those who talk about "politicizing" like
Sothinathan were just looking for escape routes to avoid addressing controversies close to the heart of the people and to evade accountability, and should therefore be condemned in no uncertain terms.


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

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