MCA Ministers and leaders, both A and B
Teams, should both review the method of their power struggle to ensure that
they do not undermine the rights of the Chinese community or threaten the
interests and even lives of Malaysians
Media Conference Statement (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
MCA Ministers and leaders, both A and B Teams, should both review the method
of their power struggle to ensure that they do not undermine the rights of
the Chinese community or threaten the interests and even lives of
It is not for non-MCA members or MCA outsiders like me to interfere in the
power struggle waged between the MCA A and B teams, but the Malaysian
Chinese community and the entire Malaysian people have the right to demand
that both MCA factions should not undermine their rights and interests, to
the extent of literally threatening the lives of Malaysians, in their power
It is most distressing and deplorable that in the past two years, almost
every issue had been turned into a proxy battle between the MCA A and B
teams, judged solely on what political advantage or mileage each faction
could extract from it while completely ignoring the intrinsic merits, rights
and wrongs in each issue - and this applies to almost all issues, whether
minor and trivial or major and fundamental with far-reaching consequences to
the community, people and nation.
The most recent instance to illustrate this senseless and mindless power
struggle between MCA A and B teams is the Kong Ming lantern issue, with
thousands of Kong Ming lanterns throughout the country grounded on Chap Goh
Meh following their immediate and total ban by the police as a hazard to
public safety, especially to aircraft operations and unexpected incidents
such as fires.
As the MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik
had been claiming credit for bringing in the Kong Ming lanterns into
Malaysia from Yunnan about 10 years ago, and had publicly taken the position
that the tradition of releasing Kong Ming lanterns into the air should be
preserved "as it encourages people to be strategic thinkers", Kong Ming
lanterns also immediately became a proxy battle between the MCA A and B
teams to protect or attack Ling's political credibility and leadership.
This explained the stand of the MCA B leaders who distanced themselves from
the Kong Ming lanterns while the MCA A Ministers and leaders advocated a
review of the total ban to allow for its controlled and regulated release.
Ling said yesterday that he would raise in the Cabinet a review of the total
police ban on Kong Ming lanterns to allow for its controlled and regulated
There is a case for allowing the release of Kong Ming lanterns if the
legitimate concerns of public safety, whether to aircraft operations or
causing fires, can be addressed - involving the location and timing of
release, as well as the quality of manufacture of the lanterns on safety
aspects. I saw in the Sin Chew today a Reuters photograph of the release of
sky lanterns (as they are called in Taiwan) in Taipei during Chop Goh Mei,
which fully took into account all the public safety considerations.
As Transport Minister, Ling is particularly guilty of gross Ministerial
irresponsibility in not having the "strategic thinking" to anticipate for
the past decade since bringing in the Kong Ming lanterns from Yunnan their
public safety questions, especially to aircraft operations, until the
imposition of sudden and total ban by the police on the eve of Chap Goh Meh!
It is most fortunate that the Transport Minister had not been responsible
for a major aviation disaster because of his lack of "strategic thinking" in
the past 10 years after introducing the Kong Ming lanterns.
Be that as it may, while there is a case for Ling to raise the issue of
review of the ban on Kong Ming lanterns in Cabinet (which was reported only
in Chinese press but not in the MCA-owned Star - another manifestation of
the irresponsible MCA A and B power struggle), Ling should explain why he
had not earlier raised in Cabinet even more urgent and fundamental issues
both to the Chinese community and the Malaysian people, such as:
" The review of the Vision School concept;
" The restoration of the original Damansara Chinese primary school in
Petaling Jaya as a community school for the locality;
" The recognition of the International Mother Language Day on Feb. 21;
" The review of the "929 Declaration" by the Prime Minister that Malaysia is
an Islamic State, which is against the fundamental nation-building principle
in the 1957 Merdeka Constitution, the "social contract" and the 1963
Malaysia Agreement that Malaysia is a democratic, secular and
multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but Malaysia is
not an Islamic state - whether ala-PAS or ala-UMNO; and
" The establishment, terms of reference, composition and modus operandi of
the second Mahathir education review committee to ensure that the most
comprehensive and highest-powered education review committee in the nation's
history is not exclusively an UMNO review but one which involves all
political parties, both ruling and opposition, all races, religions and all
educational segments and strata of the civil society.
Both MCA A and B Ministers and leaders are doing the Chinese community and
the Malaysian people a grave disservice in reducing all issues into a proxy
fight between the two factions - whether on corruption (the mysterious role
of Ling's nemesis Soh Chee Wen); the Penang Outer Ring Road project (PORR)
and the "indefinite suspension" of the two Penang MCA Assembly duo, Tan
Cheng Liang and Lim Boo Chang; press freedom (whether the MCA takeover of
Nanyang Press or the publication of Oriental Daily); Ling's undated
resignation letter as Transport Minister or the vying by the MCA A and B
teams for the favours of the UMNO leadership.
But the most scandalous and most disastrous example of such senseless and
destructive MCA Team A and B division must be the mishandling of the worst
dengue epidemic in the nation's history, which has claimed some 100 lives
last year, and caused at least 20 deaths in the month of January this year -
which may only the tip of the iceberg of a long list of unnecessary and
avoidable deaths from dengue.
While the MCA B team leader, Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng plays
political and bureaucratic game of "tug-of-war" and "passing the buck" with
his MCA A rival, Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Ong Ka Ting,
claiming that the health ministry is not responsible for the dengue
epidemic, more and more Malaysians, Malays, Chinese and Indians, have fallen
victim to the killer dengue disease.
On Saturday, I visited Taman Nirwana, Ampang, Selangor with DAP MP for Bukit
Bintang, Fong Kui Lun, DAP MP for Cheras, Tan Kok Wai and DAP National
Publicity Secretary, Ronnie Liu and was shocked to find that there were five
dengue deaths in the area in the past two months - and there could be many
other deaths in the same locality which have not come to our knowledge.
We visited the families of three dengue fatalities but have not been able to
visit the families of two other dengue deaths, a 35-year-old Malay teacher
and a six-year-old Malay boy. The three dengue fatalities, whose families we
" Muzammir bin Mokhtar, 39, businessman, of No. 10, Jalan Nirwana 24, Taman
Nirwana, Ampang, who died at Ampang Puteri Hospital, Ampang on 19th December
2002. He left behind a widow, who had been medically boarded out from her
former position as a bank secretary because of chronic illness and four
" Wan Muhammad Riaz bin Borhannuddin, 10, of 16, Jalan Nirwana 15, Taman
Nirwana, Ampang, who died at Kampung Baru Medical Centre on 17th January
" Chai Nyak Lan, 45, housewife, of 12, Jalan Nirwana 15, Taman Nirwana,
Ampang who died at Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital on 25th January 2003.
How can the MCA A and B Team Ministers have the heart and be so
irresponsible to continue to play their political game of factional fighting
at all costs and "passing the buck" when the dengue epidemic is raging
unchecked claiming more and more lives?
Let me give one instance to demonstrate the severity of the dengue epidemic,
which Chua had tried to play down by denying that ther is any epidemic and
that it was "under control".
Selangor has almost the same population as Singapore, more than 4.1 million.
Last July, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned the countries in the
region, including Malaysia and Singapore, to take preventive measures
against a dengue epidemic which could be as bad as the worst recorded year
for dengue epidemic in 1998.
After a rise in the incidence of dengue fever in Singapore in August and
September, the Singapore government announced in November that its
anti-dengue campaign had successfully brought the dengue outbreak under
control. For the whole of last year, Singapore reported a total of 3,937
dengue cases and eight Dengue Haemorrhage Fever (DHF) cases.
Selangor in contrast had some 9,400 dengue cases last year or some 140 per
cent higher incidence than Singapore. Furthermore, the number of dengue
deaths in Selangor in the dengue epidemic will be in the order of more than
1,000 per cent higher when compared to Singapore!
But such unprecedented death toll from the dengue epidemic whether in
Selangor and the country have not been able to force the MCA A and B
Ministers to suspend their party feud to jointly focus on their public
responsibilities to save lives. Sad to say, even the Selangor Mentri Besar
Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo seemed to be indifferent and unconcerned that
Selangor has 140% higher incidence of dengue cases than Singapore last year
(and more than 1,000 per cent higher incidence of dengue deaths ) although
both have almost the same population of slightly over 4.1 million people.
From the bottom of my heart, I
want to issue a call to the MCA Ministers and leaders, both A and B Teams,
that they should both review the method of their power struggle to ensure
that they do not undermine the rights of the Chinese community or threaten
the interests and even lives of Malaysians.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National