Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Media Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for
Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Sunday, 1.11.1998:

Musa Hitam should be drafted into a national commission to propose a
democratic solution to the ballooning political crisis which is highly
injurious to Malaysia’s international reputation as well as posing a great
obstacle to national economic recovery
--------------------------------------------------------------------

In my speech in Parliament last Monday, I had said that the 1999 Budget
had been completely overshadowed by the political turmoils in the past
two months, highlighting the importance of the political fundamentals which
must be addressed if the problems of confidence- restoration and the worst
economic crisis in the nation’s history are to be successfully overcome. 

For this reason, the DAP had proposed in Parliament the immediate
resolution of the ballooning political crisis in Malaysia without which
there can be no full confidence-restoration to effect the speediest
economic turnaround and recovery in the shortest time possible.

I told Parliament that the political crisis in the country was not just
about the unprecedented sacking, detention and heinous allegations levelled
against former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, but goes
beyond the case of Anwar Ibrahim and concerns the deep-seated hopes and
aspirations of Malaysians for justice, freedom, democracy and good governance.
 
Furthermore, the political crisis of confidence is very deep-seated, as it
is the cumulation of the people’s frustrations over the years, and the
time has come for the expansion of democratic space in Malaysia for the
people to peacefully gather and demonstrate their aspirations for justice,
freedom, democracy and good governance.
 
I also made very clear the DAP’s stand against violence, both against
peaceful demonstrators, innocent members of the public and the police, as
completely unsuitable and unacceptable in Malaysia’s plural society.

I had made two proposals for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir
Mohamad to resolve the grave political crisis of confidence, credibility
and legitimacy: either to dissolve Parliament and call for new general
elections to seek a clear national mandate from the people, or to convene
an All-Party/NGOs Roundtable Conference to chart out a new political
blueprint that can assure for all Malaysians greater democratic space,
freedom and justice in the country.

The very heavy police presence in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, with Federal
Reserve Unit and special police reinforcements brought in from various
parts of the country, with the visible sight of scores of special police
armed with M16 assault rifles and dressed in battle fatigues and black
berets, have ensured that the Federal Capital was comparatively
incident-free despite widespread fears that yesterday might be worse than
the previous Saturday.

Massive police presence however is not the answer to what is fundamentally
a political challenge rather than a police or security problem. The
people’s right to express themselves peacefully in a democratic society
must not be bottled up or snuffed out by FRUs or M16s.

A political issue of the people’s demand for justice, freedom, democracy
and good governance must not be turned into a law-and-order situation and
this is why the government must take the initiative to break the impasse
by respecting the constitutional right of the people to assemble peaceably
to express their legitimate concerns and aspirations as by issuing police
permits for such peaceful gatherings.

I note that this is also generally the position of the former Deputy Prime
Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam (the only other Home Minister in the 17-year
Mahathir administration) in his interview with Mingguan Malaysia today,
where he pinpointed intolerance to criticism as a basic cause of the
present political crisis and advocated a political solution to the
political crisis.

He said:

"Reformasi kalau dilaksanakan dengan cara kekerasan akan menimbulkan
keadaan huru-hara dan memberi akibat negatif kepada negara dan yang ruginya
ialah semua.
 
"Tetapi kalau mereka sekadar melaung-laungkan perkataan reformasi, menjerit
dan mengibar sepanduk, itu perkara biasa. Pada saya itu demonstrasi yang
ada hubungan dengan reformasi."
 
He added:
 
"Pada masa yang sama, saya suka untuk mengingatkan barisan pemimpin negara
khususnya di kalangan pemimpin UMNO supaya mempertahankan sistem demokrasi
tulen dan tidak sekali-kali mempertikaikan hak individu untuk bersuara. Ini
yang saya sebut sabagai demokrasi; dimana pendapat kedua dan pendapat
seterusnya sangat penting.  

"Dalam menghadapi sesuatu penyakit pun, kita kerapkali mendapatkan second
opinion daripada doktor yang lain. Apatah lagi kalau penyakit dalam
masyarakat, sudah tentu kita memerlukan pendapat kedua, ketiga dan seterusnya.
 
"Rasa saya, selagi kita berupaya memberi ruang dan kebebasan kepada
individu untuk menterjemahkan pendapat kedua dan pendapat seterusnya,
selagi itulah kredibiliti kita sebagai pemimpin akan terpelihara.
 
"Memberi kebebasan bersuara sepenuhnya kepada setiap individu dan mendengar
pandangan jujur segenap lapisan masyarakat pada saya amat penting daripada
kita bersikap reaktif berbanding proaktif.
 
"Tidak salah menyatakan kelemahan jika ia boleh mendatangkan kebaikan. Pada
saya, tidak mustahil ada perkara yang belum pernah difikirkan oleh
kepimpinan dapat diselami dan dijadikan penawar dalam menghadapi keadaan
yang mencabar hari ini.
 
"Sebab itulah saya suka untuk beri ingatan kepada pemimpin-pemimpin baru
khususnya dalam UMNO, semakin tinggi jawatan yang disandang tahap toleransi
dalam jiwa seseorang pemimpin itu harus juga tinggi dan meningkat.
 
"Sikap toleransi adalah faktor utama membolehkan ideologi positif
melahirkan bangsa Malaysia yang bersikap integrasi dan ia harus mendapat
suntikan liberalisme dan pandangan lebih terbuka.
 
"Secara peribadi, saya berpendapat bahawa kurangnya sikap toleransi dan
penerimaan terhadap kritikan inilah yang mencetuskan begitu banyak konflik
politik dan akhirnya menyaksikan keadaan seperti yang berlaku akhir-akhir
nya."

The Prime Minister should seriously consider a political solution to the
present political crisis, whose solution is not through a show of massive
police force but democratisation of the political process to win the hearts
and minds of Malaysians.
 
The Prime Minister should draft Musa Hitam and other prominent and
concerned Malaysians into a national commission to propose a democratic
solution to the ballooning political crisis which is highly injurious to
Malaysia’s international reputation and poses a great obstacle to national
economic recovery.