I will ask Sarawak DAP not to raise the isssue of the Chief Ministerís mysterious absence from the state during the haze emergency in the Kidurong by-election if Taib Mahmud can give full and satisfactory explanation


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): I have just read Sarawak Tribune yesterday under the heading "Kit Siangís insinuations distasteful : Dr Rauf" which reported:

It is clear that the worry uppermost in the minds of Taib Mahmud and his political secretary is the Kidurong by-election in Sarawak on Oct. 25 and 26.

Dr. George Chan, for instance, was also quoted in the Sarawak Tribune as saying that the DAP would have nothing but only "imaginary issues" to talk about in the upcoming Kidurong by-election, and I assume that one of these "imaginary issues" is the mysterious trip overseas of the Sarawak Chief Minister during the haze emergency.

Let me assure Taib Mahmud that when I telephoned his office in Kuching on Sept. 23 after I had received calls from very angry Sarawakians that the Chief Minister had left the state when Sarawakians were faced with their worst environmental disaster in history, I did not have the Kidurong by-election in mind at all.

I took up the issue as a matter of public interest and I thank Sarawakians who have expressed appreciation for what I have done.

Let me also assure Taib Mahmud that I would advise Sarawak DAP not to raise the issue of his mysterious trip overseas during the haze emergency if he could give full and satisfactory explanation of his sudden and unexplained absence in the state at the height of the haze disaster.

Unfortunately, all the explanations which Taib Mahmud and his battery of political secretaries could give about the Chief Ministerís mysterious trip overseas have only succeeded in raising more questions. In fact, the Sarawak Chief Minister is committing a second outrage. The first outrage is his irresponsible disappearance from Sarawak during the haze emergency, and the second outrage is his contempt for public opinion in Sarawak and Malaysia in thinking that any ridiculous explanation about his mysterious trip overseas is adequate for him on his return to the state.

Let me also tell Taib Mahmud that if he could give a full and satisfactory explanation which could convince me that he had embarked on a "SOS" mission to seek international help from haze and health experts during the haze emergency in Sarawak, I am prepared to be his most vocal defender both in Sarawak and Malaysia.

But he should not expect me to keep quiet when he cannot give basic facts like when and how he left Sarawak, the members of the family who went with him, the countries he visited with a full itinerary, the haze and health experts he met in the United States giving dates and names, and the outcome of his meeting with these haze and health experts.

Taib Mahmud has very good reasons for staying away from Parliament during the three days of the debate on the haze disaster, which would have been the ideal venue for him to give a full and satisfactory explanation of his mysterious trip overseas during the Sarawak haze emergency, as he knows that the majority of Barisan Nasional MPs are also very disappointed with him because his absence from Sarawak state was completely inexcusable.

Many Barisan Nasional MPs as well as members of the administration have privately conveyed to me their agreement that Taib Mahmud should account for his mysterious absence overseas as he had failed to provide the leadership at the most critical time at the height of the worst environmental disaster in Sarawak history.

(10/10/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong