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Call on Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty to speak the truth and tell Abdullah that the people’s discontents and unhappiness are a greater threat to the country’s peace and stability than peaceful marches, pickets and demonstrations

Media Conference           
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Parliament, Thursday): When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became the fifth Prime Minister on 30th October 2003, he made the famous pledge to “hear the truth, however unpleasant”, which he had infamously dishonored in the past four years.

Recently, Abdulah’s pledge to “hear the truth” was ignomiously revised by the Information Minister, Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin as applying only to Barisan Nasional leaders and government officials but not to the media, the civil society or the ordinary Malaysian public!

In the past four years, however, Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders had been afflicted by the “Dare not speak the truth to Pak Lah” syndrome.

This has resulted in the least hands-on Prime Minister in the nation’s history but with the most Ministerial portfolios (trebling as Minister for Finance and Minister for Internal Security) setting a new record in Malaysian political history as a Prime Minister who has lost touch with the national pulse in the shortest time ever since assuming the highest political office of the land.

It is refreshing that in this ocean of distortions, half-truths and downright lies passing off as “truth”, Gerakan Penang State Executive Councillor, Dr. Toh Kin Woon has gloriously broken ranks in a letter to Malaysiakini yesterday declaring that it is the people’s “discontent and unhappiness that will be a greater threat to our country’s peace and stability, rather than the marches, pickets and demonstrations”.

I call on Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to have at least 30% of Toh Kin Woon’s sincerity and honesty to speak the truth to the Prime Minister whether about the “Walk for Justice” of 2,000 lawyers organized by the Bar Council for restoration of the independence and integrity of the judiciary; the 40,000-strong Bersih rally in support of electoral reforms for clean, free and fair elections; the 30,000-strong Hindraf demonstration on the socio-economic and cultural plight of the Malaysian Indians particularly the lower strata; or the numerous pickets by the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and trade unions for higher salaries to meet rising costs of living so burdensome to the workers.

So far, there is only one Barisan Nasional leader – a state Exco from Penang -who is prepared to call a spade a spade and tell Abdullah the truth.

Are there no other Barisan Nasional leader, occupying higher and more important government and party positions whether at the national or state level, who could back up Toh Kin Woon to start the process of telling the Prime Minister the truth?

What about MIC’s Samy Vellu, Gerakan’s Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, MCA’s Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and the other three MCA Ministers? Is there none from the Barisan Nasional component parties in Sabah and Sarawak? Is there not a single UMNO Minister or leader who could be relied upon to speak the unvarnished truth?

That the syndrome of “Dare not tell Pak Lah the truth” is very advanced and even terminal is highlighted by the refusal of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz yesterday to withdraw and apologize for his offensive and unwarranted slur of the supporters of the Hindraf demonstration in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday as “penyangak” when he said on Tuesday:

“Some 20,000 penyangak (crooks) who participated in the rally would not jeopardize our viewpoint of the entire community”.

Nazri not only compounded the offence he committed by repeating the slur of “penyangak” but also in claiming that his action was vindicated by the Cabinet which discussed the Hindraf demonstration yesterday.

Are there no shadows of Toh Kin Woon among the Ministers and leadership of the Barisan Nasional component parties – or is Toh a completely lone voice in the Barisan Nasional wilderness?


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

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