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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 5th July 2009: 

Is MCA so short of talents they cannot find different persons to hold the posts of MCA Secretary-General and Senate President?

Tomorrow DAP National Vice Chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz will be sworn in as a Senator, the first DAP Senator in the party’s 43-year history.

Tomorrow is also the last day for Tan Sri Dr. Hamid Pawanteh as two terms for six years as Senate President.

He was Deputy Speaker from 1983-1986 and I found him a level-headed, fair and just political leader who could distinguish between right and wrong, what are national interests as distinct from party and personal interests – a rare quality among those who walk the corridors of power in Putrajaya.

Hamid, 65, will be a loss to Malaysian politics as he is retiring from Malaysian politics after 31 years, which have included two terms as Perlis Mentri Besar from 1985 to 1995.

Replacing Hamid as Senate President will be the Deputy Senate President, Datuk Wong Foon Meng, which is a surprise for three reasons:

Firstly, Wong is also MCA Secretary-General and he has announced that he will not relinquish this post.

This is against parliamentary convention and practice that a front-line party official should not be appointed to positions like Speaker of Dewan Rakyat or President of Dewan Negara – which is why the present Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia resigned his post as divisional Umno Chairman on his appointment as Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Why is Wong flouting this parliamentary convention and practice that the Parliament Speaker or Senate President must not only be fair but seen to be fair by relinquishing all party positions?

Secondly, Wong will be appointed only to serve a mini-term of eight short months from July 7, 2009 as Senate President as he is a second-term Senator whose term expires on 12th April 2010 and there will not be a third reappointment.

Wong will be the shortest-serving Senate President as compared to the two previous MCA Senate Presidents - Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin who served for more than seven years from 1973 to 1980 and Tan Sri Michael Chen who served for more than two years from 2000.

Hasn’t MCA another nominee who could serve as Senate President for two full terms of six years, such as former MCA Ministers, Dr. Ting Chew Peh or even Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting (although this will mean a by-election in Kulai) or former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng?

Or is the MCA only allowed to “warm the seat” of the Senate President for a brief spell of eight months instead of two full terms of six years before the MCA nominee has to vacate it because of the expiry of his term as Senator and the post of Senate President surrendered to another appointee from another Barisan Nasional component party, may be MIC or Gerakan for another mini-term?

Ong Tee Keat should be more serious about such appointments and should even consider nomination of qualified and eminent Malaysian Chinese who need not be MCA members to be appointed as Senate President

Where does it say in the Constitution that the Senate President must be members of MCA or other Barisan Nasional component parties?

Thirdly, is MCA so short of talents that the MCA President cannot find different persons to hold the posts of MCA Secretary-General and Senate President? Or is the MCA President finding himself more and more isolated in his own political party that he has little trust for other MCA leaders?

Wong also told the press yesterday that MCA does not rule out the possibility of co-operating with DAP to establish a joint secretariat for “intellectual discourse” if the proposal come from the DAP and depending on the topics concerned.

I do not know what Wong is talking about. Is he saying that MCA is prepared to form a joint secretariat with DAP for “intellectual discourse” on anyone of the following subjects which constitute the burning national issues of the day:

1. Why Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was unable to start his premiership with public confidence in his credibility, integrity and legitimacy as was the case with previous five Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah as not to be able to have the political honeymoon of the “First 100 days”.?

2. Why Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan failed to fire the imagination of Malaysians to foster great national unity, to the extent it has become “1Cracked Malaysia”?

3. To demand for a new Inspector-General of Police who could end the sufferings of Malaysians, visitors and investors who have lost two fundamental rights in the face of galloping crime – the right to be free from crime and to be free from the fear of crime.

4. To get to the bottom of the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal so that the culprits are brought to book and it does not become another RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal of being a “heinous crime without criminals” though five times bigger!

5. To demand full accountability as to how the half-a-trillion ringgit contributed by Petronas to the Federal government in the past 33 years, i.e. RM426.6 billion made up of RM4.2 billion under the premiership of Tun Hussein, RM168.8 billion under Tun Mahathir and RM253.6 billion under Tun Abdullah had been prudently spent or irresponsibily squandered.

Over to you, Wong.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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