Liong Sik's days in Cabinet are numbered and will not outlast Mahathir's
October retirement date - the question is whether he will be required to go
fairly instantly or he will be given a few months before the fall of the axe
by Lim Kit Siang
The MCA suffered a double humiliation at the Barisan Nasional Supreme
Council meeting yesterday.
Firstly, the MCA was stripped of all party integrity and dignity when the
Barisan Nasional Supreme Council hijacked MCA's disciplinary powers over the
two Penang MCA Assembly members, Tan Cheng Liang (Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (Datuk
Keramat) 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.
That the MCA leadership was heading for further humiliation at the BN
Supreme Council meeting yesterday over the Penang MCA duo did not come as a
surprise, but what was unexpected was the blunt and contemptuous manner in
which the MCA leadership's disciplinary powers were hijacked by the Barisan
Nasional Supreme Council which will now decide the duration of the
"indefinite suspension" of the MCA membership of the Penang MCA duo.
This Barisan Nasional Supreme Council decision is clearly unlawful and
unconstitutional going against both the constitutions of the MCA and the
Barisan Nasional, but who in the MCA leadership - whether A Team or B Team -
would, could or dare to object?
But the biggest shocker was the surprise disclosure by the Prime Minister
and Barisan Nasional Chairman, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to coalition
leaders at the meeting that he had received the resignation letter of the
MCA President and Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik from the
Cabinet, forcing Ling to go public on his undated resignation letter sent to
the Prime Minister on August 15 last year and to take effect once Mahathir
accepts and fixes the date for Ling.
Instead of waiting for the news of his undated letter of resignation in the
hands of the Prime Minister to spread like wildfire immediately after the
Barisan Nasional Supreme Council meeting (thanks to unattributable sources
from the other BN leaders), Ling was compelled to "announce" his resignation
to the media immediately after the Barisan Nasional meeting.
According to New Straits Times, Ling said after his
unsuccessful bid to resign from the Cabinet in May 2000, he again toyed with
the idea of retiring last year.
He said: "I told the PM I was ready to leave and he asked me when, and I
told him anytime after the official launch of Utar (University Tunku Abdul
"The official launch took place on August 13 last year and on August 15 my
letter went in."
Two most pertinent questions are firstly, what were the factors which
compelled Liong Sik to send in an undated letter of resignation to Mahathir
on August 15 last year; and secondly, why did Mahathir "upped the ante" by
disclosing Ling's undated letter of resignation five months ago to the BN
Supreme Council meeting yesterday knowing full well that it would instantly
be the national news after the meeting - forcing a new chain of political
reactions and developments in the long-running MCA power struggle between
the MCA Team A and Team B.
MCA Team B are elated by the latest development, which is undoubtedly
related to the "peace plan" for MCA initiated by Mahathir last April, which
apart from the calling off of the EGM planned by Team B to challenge the MCA
electoral rolls and the MCA party elections where the Team B leaders would
have been crushed, also envisaged Ling's political withdrawal before the
next general election.
Only time will show how the new MCA political drama is to be
played out, but one thing is certain - Liong Sik's days in Cabinet are
numbered and will not outlast Mahathir's October retirement date, the
question is only whether he will be required to go fairly instantly or he
will be given a few months' grace before the fall of the axe.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National