Deputy Ministers should get their act together and stop the ridiculous
spectacle of right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing or junior
members of the administration having no clue of action taking by senior
Ministers - making a fool of themselves, the government and the country
by Lim Kit Siang
There must be relief all round that the plunging of Malaysia-India bilateral
relations to an all-time low, threatening economic, IT, civil aviation and
sports ties, as a result of the police mistreatment of Indian IT
professionals in the infamous Palm Court Incident on March 9, has been
halted with decisive action by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The Indo-Asian News Service (http://news.eians.com/) reported yesterday that
the Acting Prime Minister "formally conveyed his government's apology to
Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Veena Sikri at a meeting Friday
The IANS report stated:
"New Delhi, Mar 21
(IANS) India Friday termed Malaysia's formal apology for the ill treatment
of Indian IT professionals by police in Kuala Lumpur as a 'positive
development', but did not say if it considered the chapter as closed.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi formally conveyed his government's
apology to Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia Veena Sikri at a meeting
"'I had a meeting
with the acting prime minister today and he has conveyed to me formally the
apology of the Malaysian government. He said: 'I'm sorry that this
happened,'" Sikri told IANS over telephone from the Malaysian capital.
affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said here that Badawi assured Sikri
that 'incidents such as the one involving the Indian IT professionals would
not happen again'.
"'This is a
positive and timely development in view of the repercussions of the event on
our bilateral ties,' Sarna told reporters.
"Sikri said Badawi
had acknowledged that the incident - in which police raided a condominium
where mostly Indians stayed, handcuffed and assaulted them and defaced their
passports during a reported clampdown on illegal immigrants earlier this
month - was a 'mistake'.
"India was furious
with the Malaysian police's action that involved 270 software experts and IT
professionals and hinted at retaliation against the considerable Malaysian
business interests in this country if Kuala Lumpur did not offer any
'satisfactory clarification' for the way the people were treated.
"New Delhi also
pulled out of the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia, which
begins on Saturday, to protest the ill treatment of the Indian nationals.
"In reply to a
question on whether Malaysia's apology would mean that India would go back
to 'business as usual', Sarna said: 'This will positively affect bilateral
relations in various sectors, including IT.'
"Badawi, who is set
to take over as prime minister later this year, had ordered an inquiry into
the incident by the police chief. He also assured Sikri that action would be
taken against those responsible for the incident to ensure 'that such a
thing will not happen again'.
Badawi as saying: 'We value the contribution of Indian IT professionals in
Malaysia's Multi-Media Super Corridor (MSC) project and would like them to
continue as well as cooperation covering all aspects of our friendly
"Of around 35,000
Indian professionals in Malaysia, some 5,000 are working for Indian and
multinational IT companies. The MSC has been touted as Malaysia's answer to
"Asked if she was
satisfied with the apology, Sikri said: I think the acting prime minister
has shown a great deal of leadership and statesmanship. The way he has taken
interest in this has been very fair and correct.'"
is to be commended for showing leadership, not afraid to admit mistakes
which have been made by Malaysia in the Palm Court Incident and stopping the
continued haemorrhage of Malaysia-India relations. With this latest
development, both countries should work towards restoring sound, close and
positive bilateral relations.
The Malaysian Government, on its part, must embark on a serious exercise to
learn from all the mistakes which had been committed by various authorities
which had resulted in the worst diplomatic row between the two countries -
not just the police mistreatment in the Palm Court incident but the
subsequent mishandling of the incident, whether by the Foreign Minister, the
Deputy Home Minister or the Police.
government weakness highlighted by the Palm Court incident is the deplorable
absence of co-ordination and even discipline among different Ministers and
Deputy Ministers when responding to the same issue, where we see the
ridiculous spectacle of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is
doing, or a Deputy Minister having no clue of the action taken by the senior
example of such breakdown of government co-ordination and discipline is the
reply by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin bin Zin in Parliament
on Thursday during the winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address,
referring in particular to the points raised earlier by the DAP MP for Batu
Gajah, Fong Po Kuan on the Palm Court Incident.
Zainal virtually denied all the allegations of police mistreatment of the
Indian IT professionals in the Palm Court Incident, even denying the
high-handed defacement of visa documents, when the Secretary-General to the
Home Ministry, Datuk Seri Aseh Che Mat had in a statement a day earlier
publicly admitted to "the defacing of several of the professional visit
passes" in the police operation.
In fact, on Thursday morning, I had welcomed the Home Ministry's acceptance
of the DAP proposal to send an immigration team to Palm Court to replace the
defaced visas, and hoped that our further proposal that the Immigration
waive the RM90 visa renewal fee, or that the Police pay for them, would also
be accepted as the IT professionals should not be penalized for the willful
police defacement of their visas.
Zainal did not seem to realize that if what he claimed in Parliament on
Thursday was right, that there had been no police mistreatment of the Indian
IT professionals during the Palm Court operation or even defacement of visa
documentation, whey then did Abdullah, the Home Ministry and the Police
tender their apologies and expressed their regrets over the incident.
Was Zainal suggesting that Abdullah had compromised the nation's
credibility, reputation and integrity by tendering a baseless and
unnecessary apology to India, causing Malaysia a terrible loss of 'face"?
Zainal's wayward and contrarian parliamentary performance on Thursday,
coming after fulsome apologies to the Indian Government on the Palm Court
Incident by his superiors, should not be allowed to damage the mend-fencing
in the bilateral ties of Malaysia and India in any manner, as it should be
regarded as a parliamentary reply made without authority or endorsement by
his higher authorities.
Zainal should be hauled up by the government and Parliament to explain his
atrocious reply which was completely out of sync with the apology and
regrets which the Malaysian government had expressed on the Palm Court
and Deputy Ministers should get their act together and stop the ridiculous
spectacle of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing or
junior members of the administration having no clue of the action taken by
the senior Minister - making a fool of themselves, the government and the
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National