The RM5 billion spent on Putrajaya would have been better spent to build low-cost houses to benefit some 250,000 low-income  families

- 30 years’ service as MP dinner organised by Selangor State DAP

by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday):  The recent UMNO General Assembly has provided further proof of the "political culture of injustice" and why there should be far-reaching political changes in Malaysia to break the mould of political hegemony in the past four decades, which has undermined democratic institutions and instilled a culture of fear in Malaysian politics.

Why should RTM telecast  and broadcast live the various speeches by UMNO leaders at the UMNO General Assembly, when RTM is Radio/Television Malaysia and not Radio/Television Mahathir?

There is  continued gross abuse of power by the Barisan Nasional government, which has  been in power for so long that it has wiped out the important  distinction between the government and party, the public interest and private interest.

In his speeches, the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad showed utter contempt for the rule of law, the independence of judiciary and basic canons of justice when he openly attacked former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and pronounced him guilty of the very charges which the court has still to pass judgement in the ongoing trial of Anwar.

Mahathir had been guilty of contempt of court, but does any Malaysian believe that we have a judicial system which dare to call a spade a spade and  pass such a judgement on the Prime Minister?

It is sad that public confidence in the independence of judiciary, the rule of law and the system of justice in Malaysia had fallen so low that justice has become utterly irrelevant to the judicial system in the country.

In his UMNO Presidential Address, Mahathir also indicated the dirty electoral tricks which UMNO and Barisan Nasional would use in the next election, when he accused the  Opposition of being stooges and puppets of foreign powers, equating criticism of the Barisan Nasional government policies with being disloyal, anti-national and unpatriotic.

In the 1990 general election, two days before polling,  the then Semangat 46 President, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah was accused by both the electronic and printed media of having betrayed the Malay race and honour and sold out the Islamic religion by portraying him as wearing a Kadazan headgear with a purported Christian cross.

Mahathir also wore such a Kadazan headgear when he visited Sabah, but the opposition did not have access to the mass media to expose the dirty electoral Barisan Nasional tactics.

Did Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah betray the Malay race and honour and sold out Islam?  Of course not - or he would not have been appointed Kelantan UMNO Chairman with the task of recapturing Kelantan from PAS, keeping open his options as a Prime Ministerial aspirant.

The people should expect even dirtier Barisan Nasional ploys against the Opposition than the one deployed against Tengku Razaleigh in 1990.

During  the UMNO General Assembly, a list of  privatisation projects awarded by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU)  to "supporters of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim" was released.

In Malaysia, there is selective prosecution, selective justice and now selective release of government information.

What Malaysians want is a release of all privatisation projects awarded by the Economic Planning Unit,  not just to "supporters of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim" but also  "supporters of Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamand", "supporters of  Tun Daim Zainuddin", as well as "supporters" of other UMNO Ministers and leaders.

Mahathir also defended his latest mega-project, the Putrajaya, declaring that the government is building the new government administrative capital for the next 100, 200 and even 300 years.

When completed,  Putrjaya will cost RM22 billion, with some RM5 billion already spent so far.  The RM5 billion spent on Putrajaya would have been better spent building low-cost houses to benefit some 250,000 low-income families.

But Mahathir’s obsession with grandiose mega-projects - which he explained in one interview last year as "being good for the ego" - built for the next 100, 200 and 300 years would burden the present and the next few generations as a result of a most lopsided sense of priorities.

The Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), for instance, which had been described as built for the next century and not for the present, has been described as "eerily silent" by one recent comparative report of new international airports in this region - with more than half of its capacity unutilised!

Many Malaysians avoid using KLIA if they can avoid it, because it is so inconvenient and time-consuming.  Even the Prime Minister had preferred to use the Subang International Airport in his few recent trips overseas!


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