(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): For two days in succession, the Barisan Nasional-controlled media have gone to town over the latest unfortunate episode in DAP-Keadilan relations, with New Straits Times continuing to paint me to be on a warpath after its Tuesday frontpage report with the headline “Angry Kit Siang to stay away from DAP-Keadilan meetings”.
When DAP and Barisan Alternative leaders appear on the front-page or are given prominence by Barisan Nasional-controlled media, it is not because of any sense of fair and responsible reporting but invariably because of a political agenda to slant news and to try to discredit the Opposition by presenting it in the worst possible light.
This was why I refused and avoided an interview when requested by TV3 yesterday.
I have just spoken to the New Straits Times Penang bureau chief, Noor Adzman Baharuddin who covered the media conference at the Penang DAP State headquarters on Monday on the SJK © Damansara school issue, and who took the opportunity to ask me about my reaction to the latest development in DAP-Keadilan relations.
He said I was at least “unhappy”, to which I agree, but I was not “angry” at the media conference - with another English newspaper wrongly reporting that I was boycotting all Barisan Alternative meetings. I thank Noor Adzman for his private apology at the New Straits Times report stating that I was “angry”, suggesting that I was on a warpath, when I was quite matter-of-fact in my response.
I am not “angry” but sad, unhappy, disappointed and exasperated at the latest deterioration in DAP-Keadilan relations.
It is the right of Keadilan to decide on who it wants to admit as a member. It is the right of Teoh Teik Huat to decide which political party he wants to apply to join as a member.
It is the right of Keadilan President, Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah to say on Saturday night that Teoh’s application would have to “undergo the normal application process like any other application”.
It is the right of Keadilan secretary-general Anuar Tahir to tell malaysiakini on Monday that he had not received any application forms from DAP members to join Keadilan and that as the secretary-general, he was supposed to receive these applications.
It is the right of the Penang Keadilan deputy chairman Cheah Kah Peng to tell Kwang Wah Jit Poh and other Chinese press on Monday that the Keadilan Supreme Council had already officially accepted Teoh’s application at its meeting in Bukit Mertajam on Saturday.
It is the right of Teoh Teik Huat to make a not-so-subtle attack on me in a media conference in Penang yesterday.
All these are not the issues which have made me sad, unhappy, disappointed and exasperated about DAP-Keadilan relations, as the issue is not Teoh Teik Huat’s application to join Keadilan but whether solemn undertakings made by Barisan Alternative parties to each other are serious and should be honoured.
It is the right of Keadilan to decide on who it wants to admit as a member which is a different and separate issue as to whether component parties in a political front should be ever sensitive and respectful of each other, especially in honouring solemn undertakings and commitments made at the Barisan Alternative Leadership Council.
I thank Keadilan Deputy President, Dr. Chandra Muzaffar for acknowledging that the Barisan Alternative Leaders’ Council had made a decision, released later in a media statement dated 28th April 1999 signed by Dr. Azizah, Dato Fadzil Noor (President, PAS), Dr. Syed Husin Ali (President, PRM) and myself as DAP Secretary-General laying down three principles binding on all Barisan Alternative parties on applications by former members of another party, namely:
(i) To give priority to co-operation and this should override
all other matters.
(ii) To respect the individual’s right of free association, consistent with the spirit of fundamental human rights and the Constitution of Malaysia.
(iii) Not to entertain membership application from anyone involved in controversies which may jeopardise co-operation between the opposition parties.
It is very unfortunate that several national and state Keadilan leaders have publicly denied that there was ever such a Barisan Alternative agreement.
At the DAP CEC meeting in Petaling Jaya last night, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Bukit Mertajam, Sdri Chong Eng, has been appointed to replace me in Barisan Alternative discussions and meetings affecting DAP-Keadilan relationship.
I will continue to attend the Barisan Alternative meetings as I am still committed to the concept of Barisan Alternative to restore justice, freedom, democracy and good governance to usher the country through a new political transition to create a new politics in Malaysia which is not so race-dominated but more issues-centred.