Petaling Selatan tragedy heads nation-building and policy failures

Speech (2)
13th DAP National Congress
by Lim Kit Siang 

(Kuala Lumpur,  Saturday): The invocation of the ISA, the clampdown on student activism,  free speech and assembly, in particular the MCA acquisition of Nanyang Siang Pau and China Press which will transform these two Chinese newspapers into MCA organs, are retrograde steps for promotion and protection of democracy and human rights.

Neither these political factors, nor the government’s economic management especially with regard to bail-outs of selected companies, are  calculated to enhance investor confidence in the Malaysian economy.

In the past 21 months, the country had reeled from one corporate scandal to another, whether the government buy-back of MAS from Tajudin Ramli at more than double the market price or the misuse of EPF and Pensions Trust Fund (KWAP) to buy the lion’s share of the Time dotCom IPO (initial public offering) shares at the inflated offer price.

Although the government’s proposed RM3.8 billion buy-out of United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) has generally been welcomed by the market, it has not met the tests of being fair to the taxpayers and the principle of accountability and transparency.

There should be a Commission of Inquiry to ascertain the total funds which had been deployed from government funds and agencies to bail out Renong’s 11 companies listed on the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange since 1997, and most important of all, to establish the nature of their ownership - i.e. whether they are still being held, directly or indirectly, on behalf of UMNO. This will be a real test of the government’s accountability, transparency and corporate good governance.

The past 21 months have been marked by a long list of policy crisis and failures, whether it be nation-building, political, economic, educational or social.

The Suqiu controversy after the last general election and the Kampong Medan tragedy in Petaling Selatan, Selangor which claimed the lives of six persons with 78 others severely injured highlight the  fault-lines of the nation-building process.

The Petaling Selatan tragedy represented the quadruple failures in nation-building, development planning, law enforcement and mass communications - but the greatest tragedy of all is the lack of will to conduct a full and impartial investigation into the blatant and brutal violation of human rights of a completely innocent, oppressed and marginalised community so as to ensure no

It is a matter of grave disappointment and distress that five months after the Kampung Medan tragedy,  the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) had not decided whether or  how to discharge its statutory duty to protect and promote human rights and  “inquire into complaints” and “study and verify”  any infringement of human rights and it should not delay any further to institute a full public inquiry into the  human rights violations in the tragedy.
The government, on its part, should bear full responsibility for the rehabilitation of the victims of the tragedy, and in particular, bear all their medical and surgical expenses.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman