(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): Early this morning, I sent an Urgent Open Letter to all Cabinet Ministers by email and via the Internet urging that the Cabinet this morning should "boldly and wisely grasp the nettle of worsening racial and religious polarisation in the country" by apologising for the Prime Minister’s 43rd Merdeka Day Message as well as clarifying the Cabinet’s position on Suqiu at its meeting on Sept. 22, 1999.
My Urgent Email Open Letter to all Cabinet Ministers reads:
"YAB/YB Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister,
"As the first post-National Day meeting, the Cabinet this morning should boldly and wisely grasp the nettle of worsening racial and religious polarisation in the country, as highlighted by the failure of the 43rd National Day celebrations to evoke renewed national pride and unity, with very fewer national flags flown throughout the country on National Day and the disappointment of the Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir at the poor public attendance at the National Day Parade at Dataran Shah Alam last Thursday.
"The Cabinet must urgently take imaginative measures to check racial polarisation in the country, and the most important effective first step is for the Cabinet to apologise for the Prime Minister’s 43rd Merdeka Day Message as well as clarify the Cabinet’s position on Suqiu at its meeting on Sept. 22, 1999.
"The Prime Minister’s 43rd Merdeka Day message likening the Malaysian Chinese Organisations' Election Appeals Committee (Suqiu) to the Al-Ma’unah movement and to those of the ‘communists in the past’ for ‘fanning racial sentiments’ was most outrageous and uncalled-for, as it was downright unfair, completely baseless and a most defamatory comparison, especially as the MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and SUPP Deputy President, Datuk Law Hieng Ding had publicly endorsed Suqiu in a joint media conference on August 17, 1999 as representing ‘universal principles accepted by all’.
"The Cabinet should openly make the apology on behalf of the Prime Minister as based on the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility, what Dr. Mahathir said as Prime Minister was also made on behalf of all Cabinet Ministers. In this manner, the national rankling over the Prime Minister’s 43rd Merdeka Message could be brought to a close and the government provide the leadership in nation-building.
"The Cabinet should also act with total accountability and transparency by clarifying its position on Suqiu.
"In the post-Cabinet media conference on Sept. 22 last year, Dr. Ling announced that the Cabinet had ‘approved in principle’ the 17-point Suqiu demands and in the last general election campaign in November 1999, the Barisan Nasional’s endorsement of Suqiu was used as a potent instrument to garner Chinese votes for the Barisan Nasional.
"However, it now appears that Dr. Ling had not been telling the truth when he claimed last September that the Cabinet had ‘approved in principle’ the Cabinet decision of Sept. 22, 1999 as his version had been openly challenged by other UMNO Ministers in the Cabinet, leading to the recent unfortunate controversy over Suqiu where certain elements in the ruling parties were prepared to create a synthetic political and communal crisis and even destroy the spirit and mood of the 43rd National Day celebrations for narrow political ends.
"Malaysians are entitled to know the true and unvarnished version of what transpired in the Cabinet in September 22, 1999 as far as Suqiu was concerned, whether the Cabinet had given its ‘approval in principle’ which Dr. Ling had claimed, and if not, the actual nature of the Cabinet decision.
"I am sending this open letter to as many cabinet ministers as I can by email and through the Internet and in the era of instantaneous communications, it should reach all ministers instantaneously.
"This may be regarded as a rather unconventional way of communications, but in the era of IT, this should be accepted as the conventional and accepted means of communications and it will also be a test as to whether the Cabinet and the Ministers are IT-savvy enough to set the lead for the people and country to enter the information age. Furthermore, the urgency of the subject of this open letter warrants such instantaneous communication so that the Cabinet can take immediate action to heal the wounds of nation-building without any further delay.
"Wishing the Cabinet will come out with a bold and imaginative initiative to start the process of national reconciliation and national unity,
"Lim Kit Siang,
Democratic Action Party
"Wednesday, 6th September 2000 (0700 hrs)"
There was also no help from the Malaysia Civil Service Link which has been described as "MCSL Gateway, a single window to Malaysian Government Information", which clearly needs a total revamp in being unable to provide even the email addresses of Cabinet Ministers.
Finally, I emailed the Urgent Email Open Letter to the Cabinet to the
MCSL for "instantaneous forwarding to all Cabinet Ministers … so that
the Open Letter can be brought up at this morning's Cabinet meeting".