by Lim Kit Siang - Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong
in Petaling Jaya
on Friday, 3rd January 1997

Penang Youth Council should avoid taking a public stand on controversial issues if it is afraid to address the real questions

The Penang Youth Council should avoid taking a public stand on controversial issues if it is afraid to address the real questions.

Yesterday’s New Straits Times reported the Penang Youth Council secretary, Mohd Haniffa Hamid urging leaders and politicians to have a proper understanding of Malaysian and foreign laws so that they do not tarnish the image of the country by breaking the law.

Purportedly commenting on the case of Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib who was charged in the Brisbane magistrate’s court on December 23 with failing to declare an equivalent of RM2.4 million as he was about to leave for New Zealand a day earlier, Mohd Haniffa said:

“Malaysian politicians, whether from the Government or opposition should be aware of the rules and regulations of our country and foreign countries which they intend to visit.

“Malaysia is riding high in terms of international respect due largely to the untiring efforts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and we should all be careful not to jeopardise our good standing.”

It is unfortunate that the Penang Youth Council secretary dare not address the real substantive issues in the Muhammad Taib case, which is not his being charged in the Brisbane magistrate’s court for not declaring RM2.4 million cash, but why he was carrying such a large amount of cash on his person in an era when with the press of an electronic button, billions of ringgit can be transferred from one point of the globe to another; the credibility of his explanation as to the origin and purpose of the cash; and whether Muhammad Taib should set an example of upright and honest political leadership after the tears of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed at the October UMNO General Assembly about the dangers of “money politics” and be subject to a full public inquiry as he had not been able to give any acceptable or satisfactory explanation for such vast sums of cash on his person.

Even secondary questions raised by Muhammad Taib’s unsatisfactory press conference explanation on Monday - such as why an UMNO National Vice President and champion of “Melayu Baru” had no confidence in the country’s educational system as to actively arrange for his and his brothers’ children to pursue further studies in Australia and why he had chosen Gold Coast, Brisbane which is more famous for entertainment, nightspots, 24-hour casinos, Surfers’ Paradise than for quality education - should be even more important to Malaysian opinion makers than the charge of not declaring RM2.4 million when leaving Australia.