(Parliament House, Monday): I will not be making any comments on the case of the three DAP CEC leaders so as not to serve the Barisan Nasional agenda using the mass media to paint the DAP in the worst possible light while distracting attention from their problems as well as the economic crisis.
Some mass media owned or controlled by Barisan Nasional parties have been most unfair to the DAP, when the statement of a branch can be given even more prominence than the statement of the DAP National Chairman, Dr. Chen Man Hin.
Today, for instance, one newspaper carried a headline in its front-page: "Allow criticism, former State DAP leader urges leadership", which perpetuates the falsehood that Wee Choo Keong was removed as National Publicity Secretary and Liew Ah Kim and Fung Ket Wing suspended as National Vice Chairman and National Treasurer respectively because of their criticisms as if criticism is an actionable breach of discipline in the DAP.
I have been the foremost critic of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and the Barisan Nasional government, and I would be going against all I have fought and sacrificed in my 32 years of politics for a freer and more democratic society to take a stand that criticism is not permissible inside the Party.
Nobody could be disciplined inside the DAP for giving criticism, whether against the CEC, the National Chairman or the Secretary-General. Discipline can only be applied, not for criticisms, but for baseless and false allegations calculated to create party dissension and undermine party morale and unity.
The Central Executive Committee took actions against Wee, Liew and Fung not because they made any criticism against anyone, but because they refused to respect the principle of collective leadership and responsibility.
A Cabinet for instance must also operate on the basis of collective leadership and responsibility. This does not mean that a Cabinet Minister cannot have different views from other Cabinet Ministers or even the Cabinet, but once all these views had been thrashed out and a collective decision taken, every Minister must accept collective responsibility for the decision.
If a Minister wants to go around the country to attack the Cabinet decision, he should resign from the Cabinet to release himself from the principle of collective leadership and responsibility.
The same applies to the posts of National Vice Chairman, National Treasurer and National Publicity Secretary. If anyone of them wants to dissociate himself from decisions taken by the national party leadership and have the liberty to attack the decisions of the Central Executive Committee, like the launching of the Sympathy, Support and Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng campaign, they should at least resign as National Vice Chairman, National Treasurer and National Publicity Secretary.
Just as a Cabinet Minister who goes around the country to attack the decisions taken by the Cabinet should expect to be removed for breach of the principle of collective leadership and responsibility, the same principle applies to national office-bearers of the DAP or any organisation for that matter - if such an organisation is to operate at all.