The bitterness and rivalry between MCA A and B teams compromising and undermining not only the rights of the Chinese community but also the interests of all Malaysians

Lengkap DAP Branch Chinese New Year Dinner
by Lim Kit Siang

(Lengkap,  Friday): Throughout the country tomorrow, Chap Goh Meh, thousands of Kong Ming lanterns will be grounded following its immediate and total ban announced by the Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai yesterday as a hazard to public safety, especially involving aircraft operations and unexpected incidents such as fires.

Norian Mai said the manufacture and import of Kong Ming lanterns are offences under Section 5 of the Explosives Act 1957, entailing a maximum of five-year imprisonment or RM10,000 fine or both; while lighting and releasing the sky lanterns would entail offences under section 285 of the Penal Code involving a six-month jail term or RM2,000 fine or both.

The controversy over Kong Ming lanterns have exposed the fiasco of the public reactions of Barisan Nasional leaders, especially those from he MCA A and B teams.

When the controversy started, MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik said the tradition of releasing Kong Ming lanterns into the air should be preserved "as it encourages people to be strategic thinkers", claiming that he was the one who introduced the Kong Ming lanterns in Malaysia about 10 years ago.

However, when the police imposed an immediate and total ban on Kong Ming lanterns yesterday, a day after the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said that there was only a partial ban to allow the Kong Ming lanterns to be released during the Chap Goh Meh celebrations, Ling did a total somersault and declared full support for its immediate and total ban.

From Ling's logic, does this mean that the Chinese in Malaysia are now condemned to be a race without "strategic thinking"?

What is most noticeable is the different reactions of the leaders of the MCA Team A and Team B on the Kong Ming lanterns before the announcement of the police ban - with Team A MCA Ministers and leaders supporting their continued release while MCA Team B Ministers and leaders favouring a ban - all because this had been reduced into a proxy fight to protect or attack Ling's credibility.

This is sad but is only the latest in a long list of instances where the bitterness and rivalry between MCA A and B teams have compromised and undermined not only the rights of the Chinese community but also the interests of all Malaysians.

The best example of such senseless and destructive MCA Team A and B division is the mishandling of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history, which has claimed some 100 lives last year, and is still raging unchecked and continuing to cause unnecessary and avoidable deaths.

The Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng said he is not responsible for the dengue epidemic and attempts to push the responsibility to the MCA Team A Minister, Datuk Ong Ka Ting, the Minister for Housing and Local Government.

It reached the ridiculous stage that when a Malaysiakini reporter asked Chua Jui Meng at a press conference on the pneumonia epidemic in China yesterday for an update of the dengue situation, Chua gave a flat refusal of "no" and when the Malaysiakini reporter posed another question on Suhakam's call to the Health Ministry to be responsible and committed in handling the dengue epidemic, Chua "left the room in a hurry"!

A week ago, Chua had announced that his ministry had set up a special fighting dengue committee to ensure that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) heads of government and their delegations would not be endangered by dengue outbreak during their summit in Kuala Lumpur from Feb 20 to 25.

DAP welcomes the establishment of such a high-powered anti-dengue unit to make the NAM Summit dengue-free, as we do not want anyone of the foreign delegates and observers to the 13th NAM Summit, in particular the heads of governments or delegations and their spouses, to have any nasty experience with the Malaysian dengue haemorrhage fever (DHF), especially as we have such a high DHF case fatality rate (CFR) of 10 per cent, which will catapult Malaysia into international infamy.

But Chua should explain how this special anti-dengue committee would go about ensuring that the NAM Summit, the conference venue as well as the hotels housing the NAM delegates and observers from 114 member countries and other observer nations and international organizations, would be the only "dengue-free area" and "aedes mosquito no-fly zone" in the country, whether there would be saturation or aerial fogging of the entire NAM locality to eliminate every single dengue-carrying Aedes aegypti mosquito, pupa, larvae and egg.

Chua should also explain why and how the Health Ministry could ensure that the NAM Summit could be dengue-free but could not ensure that the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and country are free of the worst dengue epidemic in nation's history after eights months of World Health Organisation (WHO) warning to the governments in the region of a dengue pandemic as bad as, if not worse, than the worst recorded dengue epidemic in 1998.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman