Picking on Thamrin Ghaffar's allegation, the DAP stalwart tells the former premier to clear the air.
KUALA LUMPUR: DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang today alluded that former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad is one of those behind the May 13 racial riots.
“Yesterday during two ceramah in Johor, former deputy prime minister Ghafar Baba’s son Thamrin revealed that the May 13 was due to a mini-coup by a group of men in Umno to topple Tunku [Abdul Rahman]. Former foreign minister Ghazali Shafie in the 1980s said that Mahathir was involved.
“This shows that I am not involved in the May 13 incident. I was not even in KL from May 11 to 13, 1969. I was in Sabah,” he said during a press conference at the DAP headquarters.
Lim also urged Mahathir to clear the air on Thamrin’s revelation.
On the same note, the DAP leader took a swipe at Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for reminding the people of this lie – Lim’s involvement.
“They even have a candidate who keeps saying this lie in and out of Parliament – Zulkifli Noordin. Najib is saying 1Malaysia but he is dividing the people,” he said.
Lim is also disappointed that BN is playing the race and religion cards against him.
“There are rumours that I am anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Malay monarchs. These are all lies. This shows Najib’s insincerity in signing the Transparency International – Malaysia’s integrity pledge,” he said.
Najib had signed an election integrity pledge with the NGO two months ago and the move was aimed at showing the ruling coalition’s seriousness in fair game in GE13.
Lim also urged his BN opponent and Johor menteri besar Abdul Ghani Othman to ensure a level playing field while campaigning in Gelang Patah.
Both Lim and Ghani would be facing off each other on May 5 for the Gelang Patah seat.
“Let’s begin by ensuring that the Battle for Gelang Patah is clean, fair and done in a gentlemanly style. It does not matter who wins or loses,” said Lim.
He revealed that during his campaign rounds he was well received by the people in Gelang Patah. However there were BN campaigners distributing a 28-page booklet that claimed that Lim was anti-Malay, anti-Islam and anti-Malay monarchs.
“It is despicable acts by wretched people,” he said.
JOHOR Ex-Umno strongman Mohd Tamrin Abdul Ghafar has become an unexpected ally in Pakatan Rakyat’s bid to counter the claim that DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang was behind the May 13 riots in 1969.
The former Batu Berendam MP, who is also the second son of former deputy premier Abdul Ghafar Baba, has claimed that the incident was the outcome of a “mini coup” orchestrated by Umno leaders including Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“What (then home minister Muhammad) Ghazali (Shafie, left) told (PKR de facto leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) and me, when we were in Umno Youth, was that the incident was a mini coup planned by Umno men, and that Mahathir was involved,” Tamrin said during two Pakatan ceramahs in Gelang Patah last night.
“(First prime minister) Tunku (Abdul Rahman) wrote in his column 'As I See It' in The Star two years before he passed away, that the incident was a deliberate seizure of power by Umno leaders who then blamed it on DAP and the Chinese.”
Lim Kit Siang is running in Gelang Patah, against incumbent Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman, in the hope of extending Pakatan’s 2008 ‘political tsunami’ to Johor.
Tamrin’s disclosure supports the argument of academician Kua Kia Soong that the racial clash in 1969 was the result of a coup d'état by then deputy premier Abdul Razak Hussein against the Tunku, and that Mahathir supported it.
Tamrin recalled that the Tunku had expelled Mahathir from Umno after the latter wrote an open letter calling for the Tunku's resignation after the riots.
“After the Tunku stepped down and Razak took over the premiership, he took Mahathir back into Umno and appointed him as education minister.
“This shows that Razak was grateful to Mahathir (for pressuring the Tunku to step down),” he explained, adding that Kit Siang (left) was not in Kuala Lumpur during the clashes.
He said the continued reference to the incident by Umno, in order to frighten Malay voters, indicates that the BN is desperate.
With anti-establishment sentiment growing rapidly among Chinese Johoreans to Pakatan’s apparent advantage, Umno has flashed the race card to consolidate its support among the Malay electorate in Johor.
Its campaigners have been found distributing publicity material to Malay voters accusingDAP and Kit Siang of causing the May 13 riots.
To counter the charge, Pakatan has brought in several former Umno leaders including ex-law minister Zaid Ibrahim and former Selangor menteri besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib to defend DAP and Kit Siang.
‘Which is the racist party?’
Speaking at his first ceramah in Taman Skudai Indah, to a mixed crowd of 300, Tamrin contrasted the track record of DAP and MCA to prove that DAP is “not a racist party”.
“Since its formation in 1966, DAP has had more than 10,000 Malay, Indian and Punjabi members. During its first party polls, Daeng Ibrahim, a Malay leader, was elected as vice-chairperson.
“Since the formation of the party up to the last general election, a total of 55 Malay candidates have contested parliamentary or state constituencies on the DAP ticket.”
However, Tamrin (left) noted, MCA has never allowed a single Malay or Indian to become its member since its formation in 1951.
“So which is the racist party?” he asked.
“I have known Kit Siang since I became a MP in 1986 ... he has never gone against the rights of Malays. He has fought for the principle of a Malaysian Malaysia. How is that different from 1Malaysia? What is the difference? The difference is that Kit Siang is not corrupted.”
Tamrin urged the Malays to thank DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng(right), who had been jailed for three years after speaking out for a Malay minor who was allegedly raped by an Umno leader.
He claimed that both former MCA president Ong Ka Ting and former deputy president Lim Ah Lek, who he had met recently, are anticipating that MCA will win a maximum of five parliamentary seats in the 13th general election.
“How to win? (MCA president Dr) Chua Soi Lek is the first general since the Ming dynasty who has not gone to war.
“Chua only won one war - the battle of Katerina Hotel, right?” he said, referring to the hotel in Batu Pahat where Chua was recorded on video, having sex with a companion.
Lee said no foreseeable combination of political alliances would arrive at the necessary number to execute an Islamic state. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, April 24 ― Veteran MCA politician Datuk Lee Hwa Beng hosed down today his party’s claims that a vote for DAP could lead vicariously to the implementation of hudud law, pointing out that it was “impossible” for any winner of Election 2013 to set up an Islamic theocratic state.
Without naming any party, he noted that there were politicians who relied on fear-mongering tactics among the Chinese community by warning them that an Islamic state will result if the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition comes into power or, alternatively, if there is a coalition of Umno and PAS.
MCA, hit by widespread unpopularity among the Chinese electorate, has made the possibility of an Islamic state a central plank of its campaign in Election 2013.
The party has placed a number of newspaper advertisements suggesting that a vote for DAP is a vote for hudud, the Islamic penal law, especially after the PR party said it had considered using the logo of PAS in the general election following now-dispelled doubts about its ability to apply its own symbol.
Lee, the former Port Klang Authority (PKA) chairman who gained public acknowledgement for his role in investigating the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, pointed out that any change to the Federal Constitution required a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
He said in a letter to The Malaysian Insider today that the number of seats contested by the various political parties, including the main Muslim parties of Umno and PAS, suggest that it was impossible to amend the constitution as needed for an Islamic state.
Lee based this on the assumption that all non-Muslim MPs would not vote for any amendment to introduce an Islamic theocratic state.
“For example in the Terengganu state assembly some years ago when PAS introduced hudud law, the lone MCA member abstained from voting for it whereas, in contrast, all the Umno members voted for it,” he said.
He pointed out that even if Umno won all 105 parliamentary seats it was contesting in the peninsula and the 15 in Sabah, and if Sarawak’s PBB took 14 seats there, these would still total only 134.
This, he pointed out, remains short of the two-thirds majority ― 148 seats ― needed to amend the constitution.
He added that while it may appear possible if Umno, PAS and PBB formed a coalition, it should be noted that PAS and Umno were competing for many of the same seats.
“My conclusion is that an Islamic theocratic state is impossible in our multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural country, safeguarded by our societal constitution and the Federal Constitution itself.”
In his bid for re-election, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has dispensed with all shame. Vote for me, he has essentially declared, or Malaysia will suffer “catastrophic ruin” and an “Arab Winter” of the kind that has undone economies from Egypt to Libya.
Both warnings are ludicrous -- signs of how worried Najib’s National Front coalition is of losing power for the first time since 1957. They speak to the desperation of a government that has come to serve itself, not Malaysia’s 29 million people. And they are emblematic of a leader whose talk of bold change hasn’t been matched by action.
Najib’s claim is this: Giving the opposition, led by former Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim, a chance to lead on May 5 would reverse all the gains Malaysia has made since the 2008 financial crisis. The economy would crater, stocks and the currency would plunge, and chaos would reign.
Change through the ballot box in a democracy should never be disruptive or chaotic, and rhetoric suggesting otherwise is disingenuous. Najib likes to say: “The time has come for Malaysians to make a decision.” Actually, the time has come for Malaysia’s government to grow up.
Najib’s scaremongering, some of which came out of an April 17 Bloomberg News interview, smacks of the re-election campaign run almost a decade ago by then U.S. President George W. Bush. Instead of this vote-for-me-or-you’re-in-danger appeal, Najib should scare up some headline-grabbing reforms that leave Malaysia better off in the future.
The country’s biggest problem is complacency. Malaysia Inc. can be a slow-moving, change-resistant animal in a very dynamic neighborhood. Nations as diverse as China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are evolving in ways that have enabled them to leapfrog peers in a few years. They are all competing for the same infrastructure dollars, factory projects, bond deals and stock issues. Singapore, meanwhile, has become the beneficiary of many of Malaysia’s best and brightest, who have emigrated in search of a more merit-based economy.
Malaysia is a resource-rich nation with huge potential. But it remains shackled to a four-decade-old affirmative-action program -- favoring ethnic Malays -- that turns off foreign investors and undermines national productivity. This so-called New Economic Policy was devised by Najib’s father, Abdul Razak Hussein, the country’s second prime minister.
Najib, 59, has indeed rolled back some of those preferences to encourage investment. He did away with a requirement that foreign companies investing in Malaysia and locally listed businesses set aside 30 percent of their equity for ethnic Malays and indigenous peoples known as “bumiputera.” It’s time to go much further and dismantle all race-based policies.
When, for example, can more ethnic Chinese expect to start winning the really big government contracts? Here, Najib’s real quarrel may be with his own government. Anwar is pro-markets and pro-investment, too. When you look at the core of what Najib is promising voters -- less corruption and higher living standards -- it’s not wildly different from the opposition’s message. The trouble is, Najib is navigating a 13-party coalition whose interests are as entrenched as any in the world. His partners are pushing back quite assertively, afraid of losing the Malay vote they could once take for granted.
The opposition has gained traction with its claims that Malay-run companies, from power producers to toll-road operators, unfairly benefit from their ties to the government. Najib’s pledges to clamp down on crony capitalism and to instill greater transparency have been undercut by measures such as the ban on street protests that passed on his watch. Now, many voters hope to wipe the slate clean.
When he’s not trying to frighten voters, Najib is touting Malaysia’s 6.4 percent growth as proof he is a radical-change agent. In fact, much of Southeast Asia also is booming, and the government is helping to artificially fuel growth with populist handouts. Even more than the $444 billion of private sector-led projects ranging from oil storage to a mass-transit railway that Najib has championed, the country needs reforms that will revitalize the system as a whole. The government should be encouraging more startup companies, widening the tax base and hacking away at subsidies that institutionalize complacency.
All too often, rapid gross-domestic-product growth is used as a smoke screen to hide underlying cracks in an economy’s long-run potential. In Malaysia’s case, the numbers mask a government too focused on staying in power to do its job. If anything should be scaring Malaysian voters, it’s that.
(William Pesek is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
BY CLARA CHOOI ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR APRIL 21, 2013
KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The Election Commission (EC) allegedly attempted to bar Datuk Ambiga Sreenavasan from speaking about politics at a church in Seremban today, even threatening legal action against the polls reform activist.
Writing about the incident on her Twitter account, the Bersih 2.0 co-chairman said during the event at the Church of Visitation, an officer with the EC told her she could be charged under Section 27 of the Election Offences Act 1954.
"SPR officer came to me and said no poetical speeches or they would charge me. I said go ahead," she wrote, using the Malay acronym for the EC. Ambiga later corrected her posting to read "political speeches".
According to the well-known former Bar Council president the section of the law used by the officer was only applicable to candidates standing for election.
"I am not one," Ambiga (picture) pointed out in another posting.
Section 27 of the Election Offences Act 1957 stipulates that: "Every person who commits an illegal practice shall, on conviction by a Sessions Court, be liable to a fine of five thousand ringgit and, subject to any specific provision to the contrary in any written law relating to any election, shall by conviction until the expiration of five years from such conviction become incapable of being registered or listed as an elector or of voting at any election under this Act or of being elected at any election, and if at that date he has been elected at any election, his seat shall be vacated from the date of such conviction."
Ambiga added that in her response to the "high handed" officer, she suggested that the EC act on vote-buying and other polling discrepancies.
Despite the EC "intrusion" and heavy police presence, however, Ambiga said the event, a talk on voters rights, went on smoothly.
"Seremban rocks!" she concluded.
The EC has repeatedly warned Ambiga and the polls watchdog group Bersih 2.0 not to disrupt the coming election, alleging that the group's campaign to employ citizen observers would only hamper the polling process.
A total 13,268,002 Malaysians registered on the roll and are eligible to vote in the 13th general elections, touted to be a tight race between a stronger three-party opposition pact and the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition for federal power.
Of that figure, 12,992,661 voters will cast their ballot on May 5 while Malaysians registered to vote by post, including those living and working abroad, will get to cast their ballots earlier on April 28, a Sunday.
The EC has listed 2,954 Malaysians abroad as absentee voters.
Security personnel and their spouses from the armed forces and police force are also eligible to vote by post. The military voters number 161,251 while policemen make up 111,136 votes.
BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, four years to the date from when he took office in 2009, replacing Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as prime minister mid-term after the Penang lawmaker led Barisan Nasional (BN) to its worst performance since 1963.
The 13-party coalition lost its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament as well as five states in Election 2008.
A total of 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats will be contested. Sarawak will sit out this round of elections as the Borneo state went to the polls in 2011.