DAP calls for convening of emergency Parliament to address seven urgent issues on justice, freedom and good governance in Malaysia

-  Sibu DAP "Welcome Guan Eng back with honour" thousand-people dinner
Lim Kit Siang 

(Sibu, Wednesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has been deliberately cryptic, hoping to keep the Opposition parties  off balance, by hinting different things at different times on the timing of the next general election .

If Parliament is not dissolved within the next fortnight, I would expect general election to be held next year.

Regardless of the actual timing of the general election, DAP calls for the convening of an emergency Parliament to address seven urgent issues on justice, freedom and good governance which are of paramount public importance which brooks no further delay.

These seven important agendas for an emergency Parliament are:

1. Anwar Ibrahim's four police reports. Since June 9, former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had lodged four police reports on corruption and abuses of power of the "high and mighty" in the Barisan Nasional government, naming names and furnish documentary proof.  Among those named by Anwar were the Prime Minister himself, the first Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, the Minister for International Trade and Industry, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz, the two highest law officers in the country including the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohtar Abdullah, the former Malacca Chief Minister,  Tan Sri Rahim Tamby Cik.   This is the first time in the 42-year history of Malaysia that such documented police reports about corruption and abuses of power of the "high and mighty" had been made, and as no action had been taken by the government authorities on these four Anwar police reports, an emergency meeting of Parliament must be convened to redeem Malaysia's reputation for integrity.

2. Allegations of gross impropriety of Chief Justice and Court of Appeal judge.    In the Asian Wall Street Journal defamation case last week, serious allegations about judicial improprieties and injustices  were made in court against the Chief Justice, Tun Eusuff Chin and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohtar Sidin  in a proposed amendment of the defence. Although the proposed amendment of the defence was rejected on technical grounds, the allegations constitute  grave matters of public interest.  It is most shocking that both Eusuff Chin and Mohtar Sidin had not responded and cleared their name although more than a week had passed.    As the Malaysian judicial system is  facing an even worse crisis of confidence than a decade ago, there must be a full public inquiry into the serious allegations of judicial improprieties and injustices made against Eusuff Chin and Mohtar Sidin.  Action should be taken to defend the integrity of the judiciary if there is no basis in the allegations of judicial improprieties and injustices, but both Eusuff Chin and Mohtar Sidin should resign from their judicial posts if the allegations are proven.  This is why an emergency Parliament must be convened to address this serious aspersion on the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

3. Forced bank mergers.  The government should rescind its "forced bank merger" directive to merge 58 banks, finance companies and merchant banks into six large banking groups.  Although the consolidation of banks and financial institutions to better face the challenges of globalisation and liberalisation is a step in the  right direction, the forced shot-gun  bank weddings on the directive of the Bank Negara, without proper explanation and accountability as to why it had decided on six banking groups and the basis for the choice of the anchor banks, have created a new crisis of confidence inimicable to restoring and enhancing investor confidence.  For instance, why was Multi-Purpose Bank chosen as one of the six anchor banks and what guarantees are there that the entire "forced bank merger" directive does not have an ulterior agenda to concentrate the financial sector in a few selected hands?  During the financial crisis, some medium-sized banks withstood the crisis very well unlike some large banks, like Bank Bumiputra which in fact failed three times in 12 years, requiring some RM4.7 billion bail-out using taxpayers' monies.  But not a single person had been brought to court for causing the Bank Bumiputra to fail three times in 12 years, causing losses of close to RM5 billion - whether for mismanagement, abuse of power or criminal breach of trust.  Bank Bumiputra is the best example to show that those who believe that "Big is Beautiful" may be mistaken, and that Big Banks could result in Big Bangs when these mega-banks fail.  Furthermore, there are also the important issues of the welfare of the bank workers, as some 15,000 bank employees face retrenchment as a result of forced bank mergers, and the interests of the consumers.  DAP want the Barisan Nasional to rescind its "forced bank merger" directive to allow the financial institutions room to choose their own partners for "bank marriages", as well as to provide room for well-run medium-sized banks and financial institutions to continue to  exist and  serve their clientele which are not well-served by the big banks. In any event, the whole issue of the "forced bank merger" should be urgently debated by an emergency Parliament meeting.

4.  Free, fair and clean general election.  As the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir had warned that the next general election could the "dirtiest" in the nation's history, Parliament has a special responsibility to address this issue to ensure that the next general election is free, fair and clean.  Opposition parties like DAP, KeADILan,  PAS, PRM want an election which is free, fair and clean and only the Barisan Nasional component parties have the capacity to make the next general election  the "dirtiest" in the nation's history.

5. New National Policy on Chinese Education.  The Chinese community is happy that the Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional Ministers seem to have a change of heart recently in acknowledging the important nation-building role of Chinese education, whether Chinese Independent Secondary Schools or Chinese primary schools.  However, there are a lot of doubts whether all this is just a election stunt to get Chinese votes.  The time has come for Chinese education to be fully emplaced in the mainstream of the  national education system so that it ceases to be a election plaything once in five years - and this is why an emergency Parliament must be convened before the next general election to develop a new national policy on Chinese education which should among other things have the following features:

6. End forcible land dispossesion and destruction of the Iban customs and way of life.  Last week, four security personnel of an oil palm plantation in Ulu Niah, Miri were killed - the latest in a lengtthening list of social unrest in the long-houses in Sarawak.  The  Sarawak State Government's new concept of Native Customary Rights (NCR) Land development  turning them into plantations have become a new threat to the Iban way of life - as it involved forcible land dispossession as well as the destruction of the Iban customs and way of life.  This concerns not only the Sarawak state but the Malaysian nation as well, and Parliament must  show that it is concerned about the plight of the Iban community when faced with the Sarawak government's new concept of NCR land development in posing a new  threat to the Iban indigenous rights.

7. East Timor.   The Malaysian Parliament must meet in emergency meeting to demonstrate Malaysia's commitment to democracy and human rights in support of the United Nations referendum on August 30, where the people of East Timor overwhelmingly voted for independence.  The Malaysian Parliament must show the people and the world that Malaysia is not guilty of international double-standards and hypocrisy in being concerned about ethnic cleansing and genocide in Bosnia and Kosovo but indifferent when such carnage and inhumanity occur in the ASEAN backyard in East Timor.


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