During the eight-day campaign of the dirtiest general election in the nation’s history, the people of Bukit Bendera were solemnly promised by the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik that the Gerakan candidate Chia Kwang Chye would be made a Deputy Minister if he was elected.
Chia Kwang Chye won in the Nov. 29, 1999 poll, but all that Bukit Bendera has got is a parliamentary secretary and not a Deputy Minister as promised.
This is only the latest example of the campaign of falsehoods, deception and fear conducted by the Barisan Nasional and Gerakan in the last general election, where the voters of Bukit Bendera were told that a vote for DAP is a vote for PAS and an Islamic State and that if I am elected, the Chinese cannot eat pork, take alcohol, go to temples, beautiful women cannot find jobs and that there would be the chopping of hands and feet.
In the election campaign, Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon promised to meet the Prime Minister to seek an extension of the Rent Control Act which is to be repealed on 31st December 1999.
He said: "I still personally feel that there is a need to review the decision. I would like to ask for a possible extension…not because the state government has not done anything but because of the effects of the economic crisis and the fact that some owners are not willing to compromise and are going to evict tenants."
He added: "Everybody agrees that it has to come but not everyone agrees on the time frame and how to manage the transitional period."
There are now only 20 days before the Rent Control (Repeal) Act comes into full effect on Dec. 31, 1999. Has Tsu Koon met Dr. Mahathir and sought an extension of the Rent Control Act?
Tsu Koon is having problems with the formation of the State Exco and whether to give in to the MCA demand for the appointment of a second Deputy Chief Minister.
However, these are basically his political problems as Chief Minister which are not as pressing as the problem of the impending repeal of the Rent Control Act affecting 12,600 premises, 16,000 households and 60,000 people in Penang.
Tsu Koon’s Exco problem can wait but the problem of the 60,000 people who will be affected by the full repeal of the Rent Control Act on Dec. 31, 1999 cannot wait.
In the October meeting of Parliament, I had moved a private member’s bill to extend the Rent Control (Repeal) Act for another five years and my motion would have been debated in Parliament on Oct. 18 or 19, 1999 if the Barisan Nasional MPs at the time - including Chia Kwang Chye - had not sabotaged the motion by not allowing it time for debate.
When the Rent Control (Repeal) Act was tabled in Parliament in May 1997, DAP MPs were the only voices opposing it for not providing at least a five-year decontrol transition period and iron-clad provisions that before the full repeal of the Rent Control Act, the Government would ensure that the affected tenants would get fair compensation and affordable alternative accommodation - and among those who opposed the DAP proposals was none other than Chia Kwang Chye himself.
Tsu Koon should put aside the formation of his Exco and ask for an urgent meeting with the Prime Minister to introduce an emergency bill when the new Parliament meets on Dec. 20 to extend rent decontrol for another three to five years.
There are only 20 days left for Tsu Koon to honour his election pledge to meet the Prime Minister for an extension of the Rent Control Act, or is this another empty promise made by the Barisan Nasional during the election which it had no intention of honouring at all?