(Petaling Jaya, Monday): I am surprised by the outburst by the Gerakan President and Minister for Primary Industries, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after the Gerakan Committee meeting.
The New Straits Times today reported that Keng Yaik "warned Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang to stop blaming the Government for the economic and currency problems, haze and even the water shortage".
He said I should provide constructive suggestions instead of heaping all the blame on the government and that the DAP should not take advantage of the problems for political mileage.
I want to ask Keng Yaik what is the meaning of his warning to me? Is he going to suggest to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad that I be detained for the third time under the Internal Security Act for "blaming the Government for the economic and currency problems, haze and even the water shortage"?
All Malaysians who have attended DAP conferences and ceramahs on the national economic crisis would know I had not used these venues for blame-apportionment or finger-pointing with regard to the worst economic crisis in the nation’s history, but to argue for a rational approach to the crisis which could mobilise the government, society and people to act as one unit so that the country could effect a national turnaround and recovery in the shortage time possible and with the minimum of avoidable pain, suffering and hardships to the people.
To achieve a united government, society and people response, the two most important prequisites are to restore confidence by convincing the people and investors that the government:
Keng Yaik has only shown his ignorance when he said that the DAP should "provide constructive suggestions instead of heaping all the blame on the government", for this is what the DAP had been doing, both inside and outside Parliament in the past several months of the economic crisis.
For instance, on January 6, 1998, before the first 1998 Cabinet meeting, I issued an Open Letter to all Cabinet Ministers on the 15 measures which they should give top priority to come to grips with the national economic crisis.
Had Keng Yaik and the other Cabinet Ministers seriously studied the 15-Point Proposals which I had made in my Open Letter to them, which covered subjects such as:
I do not want to get into an argument with Keng Yaik as to the amount of responsibility the Barisan Nasional government must bear for the economic and financial crisis, the haze and the water shortage, as I had always maintained in the past months that the paramount challenge is how to mobilise the people in a united effort to overcome these multiple crises which have suddenly reduced Malaysia from a first-class nation near developed status to a third-rate nation where basic human needs like clean air and piped water have become luxuries.
However, there are Barisan Nasional leaders who are more interested in indulging in meaningless propaganda antics like "Love Malaysia Campaign" as if Malaysians are quite lacking in patriotism and love for the country when the single-minded focus for Malaysians should be "Rescue Malaysia Campaign".
Keng Yaik would not get any sympathy or support if he wants to strike the stance that the government is absolutely blameless in the economic and financial crisis, the failure to take effective contingency measures to deal with the other crises like haze and water shortage. I am sure he will find that he would be absolutely alone if he tries to blame the economic and financial crisis, the haze and water shortage crises on the Opposition.
Has Keng Yaik, the Cabinet or the National Economic Advisory Council studied why although government leaders are talking inside and outside the country about a national economic recovery, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange Composite Index had slumped by over a 100 points since the presentation of the third 1998 Budget by the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Parliament on March 25, which was supposed to be a new economic package to initiate a new wave of confidence-restoration and speed up economic recovery?
Surely, among the reasons for the negative sentiments in the past month causing the KLSE CI to slump by over 100 points since Anwar’s third 1998 budget on March 25, and the weakening of the value of the Malaysian ringgit from 3.59 against the US dollar at the end of trading on March 24 to as low as 3.8250 this morning are the series of bad news on the economic and financial front, in partcicular, the increasing number of bail-outs of troubled companies whether at public expense, using public funds like the EPF or at the expense of minority shareholders despite repeated assurances of no bail-outs and no corporate restructurings.
Is Keng Yaik and Gerakan prepared to take a clear-cut stand in Parliament, Cabinet and the National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC) opposing all these bail-outs at public expense, using public funds like the EPF or at the expense of the minority shareholders?
Or is Keng Yaik advocating that Malaysia should become a country of double-speak, where economic crisis can only be referred to as "economic problems" and bail-outs of troubled companies can only be referred to as "bail-outs for the nation"?