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Learn from lessons of  Mahathir’s last five years – election of  strong DAP team in Sarawak State Assembly for next five years  never more essential and critical to check abuses of power and protect the people’s rights in  Taib Mahmud’s  final term of office



at the Bintulu DAP Dinner in Bintulu

by Lim Kit Siang  

, Sunday) : The election of a strong DAP team in the Sarawak State Assembly for the next five years is never more essential  and critical to check the abuses of power and to protect the rights of the people in  the final term of office of Sarawak Chief Minister, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Sarawakians should learn from the lessons of the last five years of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as Prime Minister  for 22 years – which have created problems for the current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his administration in the past 30 months as well as for the people and future generations.

The running controversy over the aborted RM1.1 billion crooked half-bridge to replace the Johore-Singapore causeway, the new “white elephant” of the  RM1.2 billion  customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) complex in Johore Bharu and the award of the RM250 million CIQ new landbridge/flyover  without tender to Gerbang Perdana Sdn. Bhd. are  the direct “legacy” of the misrule of the  last five years of Mahathir’s premiership!

Other such “legacies” will include:

  • Unprecedented damage to the doctrine of separation of powers with the Executive encroaching into the independent and separate powers and jurisdictions of Parliament and the judiciary;
  • Deviation from the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance, which led to the establishment of Royal Police Commission into police abuses of power and corruption in the first phase of Abdullah as Prime Minister, with the Police arm-twisting Abdullah from implementing its most important recommendation on the establishment of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC);
  • Tight media control and censorship, resulting in the  irony of  Mahathir’s recent public complaint of being a victim of media “black-out” of his statements and comments – when he should blame himself for setting the country in the direction of such repressive  and undemocratic media control and censorship when he was Prime Minister;
  • Worsening problem of corruption, as reflected by adverse rankings of Malaysia in international indices about corruption, such as the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index.

But the decision which Mahathir took in his final five years which would have the most damaging and adverse  far-reaching consequences to  the Malaysian nation-building to create a united plural society of diverse races, languages, cultures and religions must be his unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declaration on September 29, 2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic State (the 929 Declaration), as illustrated by the recent series of incidents, whether over the controversy of conversion to Islam  after the death of Mount Everest climber M. Moorthy, tudung as compulsory police ceremonial wear, moral policing, etc.

Taib Mahmud has already exceeded Mahathir’s 22 years as holder of the No. 1 political office in the land, as he has been Sarawak Chief Minister for 25 years and will be getting another term on May 20, 2006  taking him to three decades of incumbency, if he completes the full term.

Even now, we are seeing more and more examples of such arrogance of power and contempt for laws and democratic  norms in Sarawak which afflicted Mahathir in his last five years.

In December last year, Sarawak Barisan Nasional flexed its muscles and brute majority of 61 out of 62 seats in the Sarawak State Assembly to bully DAP State Assemblyman for Kidurong Chew Chin Sing by referring him  to the Committee of Privileges, implicitly threatening him with suspension if not expulsion from the State Assembly for speaking up on the grave problem of “China Dolls” in Sibu.

It is now clear that neither  the Sarawak  Urban Development and Tourism Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh, who moved the motion to refer Chew to the Committee of Privileges, nor  the Barisan Nasional Ministers and Assembly members  who unanimously supported the motion, were interested in the truth  “to get to the bottom” to ascertain the veracity  of Chew’s allegations – as they were only  interested in   muzzling and stopping  Chew from raising  the people’s  concerns and grievances in the State Assembly..

This was why nothing was done in the ensuing four months until the dissolution of the State Assembly by the Privileges Committee whether to summon Chew or to enlist the support of the police, other government agencies, public organizations,  NGOs or affected families  to investigate into the “China Dolls in Sibu” controversy.

This shows that Soon Koh and the Barisan Nasional Ministers and Assemblymen were guilty  of two counts:

  • Gross abuse of the 61-seat  dominance in the 62-seat  State Assembly by bullying and shutting up Chew from raising the “China Doll in Sibu” controversy although they know that Chew was only speaking the truth; and
  • Gross abuse of the Privileges Committee, as this must be the only instance  in any legislature  in Malaysia and the world where a case had been referred to a Privileges Committee not to get to the bottom of its truth or otherwise, but just for the purpose of shutting up the Opposition from voicing out  a serious public  scandal.

Soon Koh and others who had supported him, including the SUPP president and Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi  Tan Sri Dr. George Chan should publicly apologise to Chew for the injustice they had done to him,  the people of Sibu, Kidurong and Sarawak,  as well as for their gross abuse of power in the blatant misuse of the Barisan Nasional majority in the Sarawak State Assembly to sweep the “China Dolls in Sibu” controversy under the carpet.

Another instance of recent abuse of power was the special session of the Sarawak State Assembly on April 20, for the Sarawak Chief Minister to present the Sarawak perspective of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, not for debate or endorsement by the Sarawak State Assembly, but solely as a  vote-getting exercise for the state general election on May 20.

This was why the Sarawak State Assembly was adjourned immediately after Taib Mahmud had presented his “9MP – Sarawak Perspective” speech – with no one realizing that this was not only most unprecedented, unparliamentary but very wrong, wasting public funds  and resources in convening all Assembly members as well as  top government officials from the various departments to a special Sarawak  Assembly session purely for the Chief Minister to conduct a “P.R” spectacle, with  no role by the Assembly members to debate it!

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, Sarawak is allocated RM13.4 billion or 6.7% of the RM220 billion development funds – which is lower than the 7.5% allocation for Sarawak under the Eighth Malaysia Plan.

Will Sarawak Barisan Nasional Assembly members be able to check the 20% to 30% leakage for such development spending because of waste, inefficiency, rent-seeking, abuses of power or downright corruption, which comes to the vast sums of RM2.7 billion to RM4.1 billion in Sarawak in the next five years.

This is clearly impossible as it is a role which could only be performed by DAP Assembly representatives!


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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