Chances of Tan and Lim being rehabilitated in MCA or renominated as candidates in next general election virtually nil as this will be regarded as an open defiance not only by Gerakan but also Penang UMNO
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Wednesday): The MCA-controlled Star today is the only paper which carried a report on the return of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad from his visit to Japan with the headline “Dr. M: I am satisfied MCA acted against duo” while all the other English and Malay newspapers highlighted his statement that “It is not just my opinion that counts but the opinions of other Barisan leaders as well”.
The headlines of Mahathir’s response on the MCA’s “indefinite suspension” of the party membership of Lim Boo Chang (Datuk Keramat) and Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) for abstaining in the vote on the motion by the DAP Assemblyman for Batu Lanchang, Law Heng Kiang in the recent Penang State Assembly to defer the RM1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project in the various UMNO-controlled newspapers are:
With the MCA’s “indefinite suspension” decision denounced by Gerakan leaders as “insincere”, “ farce” and a “mockery; the upping of the ante by the Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik in demanding disciplinary action against the Penang MCA State Chairman, Wong Kam Hoong for being the instigator behind the Penang MCA duo; the general UMNO unhappiness as reflected by today’s New Straits Times editorial giving open blessing to those in Barisan Nasional who “feel the only legitimate disciplinary action against the duo’s breach of collective responsibility is expulsion” and the description of the MCA disciplinary action as “a nightmare prolonged” by a Barisan Nasional youth leader as quoted in the New Straits Times commentary today, the intense inter and intra power tussle among the Barisan Nasional component parties over the case of the Penang MCA duo – open or underground - is not about to end any time soon.
The disciplinary action of “indefinite suspension” taken against the Penang MCA duo was most unusual for at least four reasons:
Firstly, the disciplinary action was forced on the MCA Presidential Council, as there is no doubt that without pressures and even political blackmail from the other Barisan Nasional component parties, no action would have been taken against the Penang MCA duo. In fact, they would both be given a pat on the back by the MCA leadership behind-the-scenes for keeping the MCA flag flying high in the Penang State Assembly.
Secondly, the unjust, cowardly and new-fangled disciplinary action leaving the meaning and implications of “indefinite suspension” completely open-ended, uncertain and undetermined, whose sole objective was to hide the embarrassment and humiliation of the MCA Presidential Council for its loss of party autonomy and authority but which could only give rise to new challenges and controversies by malcontents not only in MCA but in other Barisan Nasional component parties.
Thirdly, the chances of Tan and Lim being rehabilitated in MCA or renominated as candidates in next general election virtually nil as this will be regarded as an open defiance not only by Gerakan but also Penang UMNO.
Fourthly, the open sacrificing of the rights and interests of the people of Penang in demanding a full review on its viability, propriety and legitimacy of the PORR project, as the MCA Presidential Council’s decision was a public repudiation of the stand adopted by Penang MCA under Wong Hoong Kam in giving support, sympathy and solidarity to the anti-PORR campaign.
Penang State Assembly Speaker Datuk Yahaya Hamid said that Tan and Lim will be considered as Independent Assemblymen following their suspension by the MCA Presidential Council.
But are they MCA Independent Assembly members still bound by MCA discipline or completely independent Assembly members who could speak and act freely on all Federal and state government issues in utter disregard of MCA or Barisan Nasional policies and stands?.
MCA Secretary-General Datuk Dr. Ting Chew Peh was at pains to stress on Monday after the MCA Presidential Council meeting that although “suspended indefinitely”, both Tan and Lim are still MCA members.
Does this mean that they could still be subject to party discipline, such as expulsion – or that Gerakan and Penang UMNO can demand that the MCA Presidential Council take further disciplinary action against the duo - if both speak or conduct in a manner regarded as detrimental to the interests of Barisan Nasional, the Gerakan State Government or the Penang UMNO?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman