Has Liong Sik run away to Luxembourg to avoid meeting Hishamuddin and to seek help from UMNO President over his spat with the UMNO Youth leader

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Thursday)Yesterday’s Utusan Malaysia carried the front page headline: “Isu kuota IPTS: Hishammuddin bertemu Liong Sik hari ini” with the report:  


”KUALA LUMPUR 11 Jun - Ketua Pergerakan Pemuda UMNO, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein akan bertemu Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik esok bagi menyelesaikan isu kuota 10 peratus pelajar Melayu ke institusi pengajian tinggi swasta (IPTS).

“Hishammuddin berkata, beliau juga akan meminta Presiden MCA menjelaskan kenapa pelajar Melayu amat kurang diambil dalam pengambilan pertama Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).

“’Kita mahu menunjukkan sensitiviti dan perasaan orang Melayu dalam perkara ini (soal pendidikan) bahawa kaum lain perlu memahaminya,’ tegasnya.

“Hishammuddin menegaskan demikian kepada pemberita di pejabatnya di sini hari ini sebagai mengulas permintaan Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yang mahu beliau bersemuka dengan Liong Sik bagi membincangkan isu kuota tersebut.

“Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, pertemuan itu perlu bagi mengelakkan kumpulan lain mengambil kesempatan daripada perselisihan pandangan antara kedua-dua pemimpin itu.

“Semalam, Liong Sik berkata, beliau sedia bersemuka dengan Hishammuddin secepat mungkin bagi menyelesaikan masalah yang timbul.”

Utusan Malaysia quoted Hishammuddin as saying that the meeting with Liong Sik yesterday would be held “before, during or after” the Cabinet meeting at Putrajaya yesterday.  

The Liong Sik-Hishammuddin meeting never materialized “before, during or after” the Cabinet meeting yesterday, for Liong Sik had flown off to Luxembourg in a last-minute decision to join the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, skipping the important Cabinet meeting which would have been the “last” opportunity to rectify the double wrongs in the 2002-3003 university intake using a merit-based system whose meritocracy cannot withstand public scrutiny as well as illegally excluding tens of thousands of diploma holders from university admission.  

Did Liong Sik suddenly fly off to leave the country just to avoid a meeting with the UMNO Youth over their “spat” although the MCA President had told  reporters  after launching the new road tax discs at the Federal Territory Road Tranport Department on Monday that “he wanted to ‘de-escalate’  the spat between him and Hishammudin and was eager to meet the latter as soon as possible on the matter”? (New Straits Times 11.6.2002)  

This can be the only conclusion as nobody knew, not even his Ministerial colleagues in the Cabinet, that Liong Sik was going to join Mahathir for the Luxembourg tour.  

It is indeed sad that the power equation and relationships in the Barisan Nasional has totally changed character, from the supposedly primus inter pares  (first among equals) position for UMNO in the coalition to an unchallenged primus tanpa pares (first with no equals) – and now, the MCA President even losing out in a spat  with the UMNO Youth leader to the extent that he had to “abscond” overseas to avoid a meeting and to seek the intervention and help of the UMNO President to save “face”.  

If Liong Sik believes that the UMNO Youth leader was wrong, then he must have the courage of conviction to stand his ground to put Hishammuddin in his place; but if Liong Sik now realizes that he was himself in the  wrong, then he must have the humility to admit his mistake. Why should he fly  all the way to Luxembourg just to avoid a meeting with Hishammuddin at the Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya yesterday?  

An explanation from Liong Sik will be in order.   


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman