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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Of WikiLeaks, the MCA and Chinese marginalization - Ong Tee Keat

Of WikiLeaks, the MCA and Chinese marginalization - Ong Tee Keat

A casual chat of view exchange with academics and friends of various political beliefs has been part of my known habit of political discourse over the years. Indeed there was no big deal when I was articulating the then prevailing psyche of the ethnic Chinese community in response to the queries on the community’s ground sentiment posed by my visitors, including the diplomat.

It is worth reiterating that the comments purportedly made by me (as was implicated or cited in the Wikileaks) was largely my observation and assessment of the Chinese community’s sentiment and perception pursuant to the statement of marginalization by Mr Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore.

The metaphoric descriptions of “leftover” and “crumbs” were the exact words I quoted from certain corporate personalities that were coincidentally shared by the petty traders in my own constituency over the issue in September 2006.

Unfortunately, certain vernacular press had translated the “leftover” and “crumbs” portion erroneously and depicted it as project handouts. In fact, nothing was linked to any project handout as the conversation was centered primarily on the effectiveness of MCA in the ruling coalition.

Throughout the conversation, the only view of mine expressed was the prior assessment of the Chinese support for BN/ MCA in the 12th General Election. I was not at all optimistic then. Unfortunately, what I described as “plummeting Chinese support for the Party” really came true as an enormous wave of political tsunami in the 2008 poll later.

Knowing very well that my observation might again raise many eyebrows in the leadership following several bouts of controversies that put me under siege, I chose to make it personal. To cite a few, I was first ridiculed for having posted the details of my Parliamentarian fund allocation to my personal website. I was chastised for raising the people’s expectation for good governance through transparency and accountability.

This was further incensed by my later statement exposing the misappropriation of public fund for urgent school repair projects in two Chinese Primary Schools in Muar District, where RM 30,000 project allocation was found to have been short-changed for only RM3000 worth workdone.

That had indeed ruffled the feathers of many in the authorities. I was censured by the Cabinet in my absence for having meddled with matters outside my portfolio’s jurisdiction. I was lambasted by the Party leadership in addition to the lop-sided adverse coverage of the issue by the main stream media. In short, I was instantly depicted as ‘unpardonable’ overnight in mid-September 2006.

Thank God, I managed to survive all these political ordeals until I was ultimately toppled craftily from the MCA Presidency and subsequently dropped from Dato Sri Najib’s Cabinet in 2010. Nonetheless,I remain adamant with my support for the “1-Malaysia” notion in pursuit of genuine cohesiveness and inclusiveness within our social fabric. But the journey is bound to be bumpy as the terrain is challenging not just to the Administration but to the nation as a whole.

As to whether MCA shares the community’s perception of being marginalized or otherwise, the current Party leadership should have the courage and wisdom to answer. After all, I have no role to play in it anymore.

- Ong Tee Keat is the MP for Pandan

MIC reduces disciplinary penalty on two leaders

The MIC central leadership has reduced the penalty meted out to two of its leaders for breach of party discipline.

It reduced the one-year suspension of MIC Youth secretary C Sivarraajh to four months and reinstated sacked former MIC Bagan division chairman Hendry Benedict and suspended him for four months instead.

The suspensions of both Sivarraajh and Benedict will end on Dec 31, according to party secretary-general S Murugesan who was contacted by Bernama today.

"The CWC (central working committee), which met on Sunday, looked into these two cases and decided to review the DC (disciplinary committee) decision," he said.

Benedict was sacked for questioning party president G Palanivel's reinstatement of several sacked party leaders and formation of new branches.

Eight other cases

Earlier this month, the party's disciplinary committee suspended Sivarraajh after he had criticised the party leadership for reinstating several members expelled in April last year.

Sivarraajh was reported to have lodged a report with the Registrar of Societies after the party decided to reinstate three leaders - former Youth deputy chief V Mugilan and two former CWC members KP Samy and G Kumar Amaan.

Murugesan also said that the CWC decided to reduce the punishment meted out earlier by the disciplinary committee based on the precedence set by the party.

"During the meeting, we also looked into eight other cases, mostly involving former senior party members who were either expelled or did not have their membership renewed.

"The CWC decided to take them back as new members," he said.

- Bernama

Tee Keat stands by 'Chinese marginalised' remarks

Former MCA president Ong Tee Keat today confirmed telling US diplomats that ethnic Chinese in the country were marginalised but reiterated that he was merely conveying the sentiments of the minority community.

"It is worth reiterating that the comments purportedly made by me was largely my observation and assessment of the Chinese community's sentiment and perception pursuant to the statement of marginalisation by (Minister Mentor) Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore," he said.

NONELee (left) had in September 2006 told journalists at the sidelines of a World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting in Singapore that ethnic Chinese in both Malaysia and Indonesia were marginalised - a provocative statement that resonated with a significant segment of the Chinese populace across the causeway.

"Our neighbours both have problems with their Chinese. They are successful. They are hardworking and, therefore, they are systematically marginalised," Lee was quoted as saying.

US diplomats had then sought Ong's opinion on the comments, who remarked that the Chinese community in Malaysia were well aware that they were marginalised.

'Leftovers', 'crumbs' are metaphoric descriptions


In a statement to Malaysiakini today, Ong denied that his description of "leftovers" and "crumbs" referred to government projects, explaining that they were something that was expressed by the Chinese business community.

ong tee keat pandan mp supporters dinner 4"The metaphoric descriptions of 'leftovers' and 'crumbs' were the exact words I quoted from certain corporate personalities that were coincidentally shared by the petty traders in my own constituency over the issue in September 2006," he said.

His comments come after Malaysiakini reported a confidential cable between Washington and its embassy in Kuala Lumpur that was released by whistleblower site Wikileaks last week, detailing Ong's meeting with US embassy officials.

According to the cable, Ong was quoted as saying that "there was once a day in Malaysia when MCA would get the leftovers, but now we are just hoping to get some crumbs from the Umno table".

Ong was VP when he made the remarks

Standing by his statement to US diplomats, the Pandan MP conceded that he had kept his views private because he knew it would raise eyebrows within the MCA leadership.

"Throughout the conversation, the only view of mine expressed was the prior assessment of the Chinese support for BN/MCA in the 12th general election. I was not at all optimistic then.

"Unfortunately, what I described as 'plummeting Chinese support for the party' really came true as an enormous wave of political tsunami in the 2008 poll later."

In what appears to be a challenge to the current MCA president Chua Soi Lek, Ong said that it was up to MCA to decide if they share the sentiment of the Chinese community.

"As to whether MCA shares the (Chinese) community's perception of being marginalised or otherwise, the current party leadership should have the courage and wisdom to answer. After all, I have no role to play in it any more," he said.

Ong was a MCA vice-president when he made the remarks in 2006 and later went on to helm the party's presidency before being ousted by Chua in 2010.

Yes, Najib, let’s not forget my family’s contribution to Merdeka

I have a legitimate right to say my piece and comment on what is wrong with Malaysia. After all, my grandfather was one of the founding fathers of an independent Malaya. Malaysia would not be what it is today if not for my family as well. And if Malaysia has deviated from what the founding fathers had planned for the country, then it is my duty to speak up and oppose this deviation.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

PM: Don’t forget sacrifices of past leaders

Their sacrifices in freeing Malaysia from the colonialists must be remembered, says Najib.

(Bernama) -- Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today reminded the people not to forget the sacrifices of past leaders in freeing Malaysia from the colonialists.

He said that while Muslims were celebrating Aidilfitri, which entered its second day today, they should never forget the achievements of leaders who won the nation its independence.

“In the joy of Aidilfitri, I hope we do not forget the struggles of our forefathers in fighting for the country’s independence. Happy 54th Merdeka Day,” he said in a Twitter feed.

This year’s National Day, carrying the slogan “1Malaysia: Successful Transformation, Prosperous People”, is slightly different in that it will be celebrated simultaneously with Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

Yesterday, at the Aidilfitri open house of the prime minister and cabinet ministers at Seri Perdana in Putrajaya, Najib cut a cake in a symbolic gesture to mark National Day.

***************************************

Najib Tun Razak and the Umno leaders always talk about how Umno ‘struggled’ and ‘sacrificed’ to gain independence for Malaysia. On this day, Merdeka Day, they want us to remember those people who sacrificed and struggled for their country.

Actually, the Umno people were not the only ones who made Malaysia into what it is today. Many non-Umno people also contributed. In fact, they led the struggle for Merdeka. They were at the frontline of the fight for Merdeka.

My grandfather, Raja Sir Tun Uda, was one such man of many.

I have a legitimate right to say my piece and comment on what is wrong with Malaysia. After all, my grandfather was one of the founding fathers of an independent Malaya. Malaysia would not be what it is today if not for my family as well. And if Malaysia has deviated from what the founding fathers had planned for the country, then it is my duty to speak up and oppose this deviation.

I am not a treasonous Malaysian, as what Umno accuses me to be. I am a loyal Malaysian, maybe even a patriot. I am just continuing the tradition established by my family in ensuring that Malaysia remains a just country that respects the equality and freedom of its citizens.

***************************************

This is what Wikipedia said about Raja Sir Tun Uda:

Raja Uda was a member of the Selangor royal family, being a distant cousin of Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah and a direct descendant of the first Sultan of Selangor. He married Sultan Hisamuddin's sister, Tengku Badariah binti Sultan Alaeddin Sulaiman Shah.

Raja Uda joined the colonial government service in 1910 at age 16. In 1939, he was appointed the Secretary to the British Resident of Selangor. He was Menteri Besar of Selangor twice, from 1949 to 1953, and again from 1954 to 1955. In between, Raja Uda served as Malayan High Commissioner in the United Kingdom.

Raja Uda was involved in negotiations with the British to establish the Member System (see note 1 below) in the 1950s.

In 1951, Raja Uda was appointed a CMG and appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1953, entitling him to the style "Sir," since the Federation of Malaya was then a realm of the British Empire. Following the first ever general election in 1955, Raja Uda was appointed Speaker of the Federal Legislative Council (see note 2 below).

On August 31, 1957, the day of independence, Raja Uda was appointed the first Governor of the state of Penang and served for ten years.

The Federal Legislative Council (also known simply as the Legislative Council) was the legislative body of the Federation of Malaya and the predecessor of the Malaysian Parliament. It was formed in 1948 after the abolition of the Malayan Union and the formation of the Federation, as part of the United Kingdom's promise to grant self-rule to the Malayans. The council convened in Kuala Lumpur.

The council was composed of representatives from the Malay, the Chinese and the Indian communities. Initially, all representatives were appointed by the British High Commissioner for Malaya.

In 1955, a general election was held for the first time. 52 seats were contested, with the majority party earning the right to appoint seven more. In the election, the Alliance Party contested all 52 seats and won 51, while the Pan-Malayan Islamic Party won the remaining seat.

NOTES:

(1) The Member System, modeled on the cabinet system, was created by British authorities in Malaysia to provide self-governance. Like the Communities Liaison Committee, it drew on members of different communities, and was later described as setting a precedent for the power-sharing multiracial Malayan and Malaysian cabinets post-independence.

(2) The Federal Legislative Council passed the Malayan Constitution (later, the Malaysian Constitution) on August 15, 1957. Malaya gained independence on August 31, 1957.

Raja Sir Tun Uda was the Menteri Besar of Selangor from 1949 to 1953 and again from 1954 to 1955. In between that he was the Malayan High Commissioner to the UK. He was never an Umno member (or even a politician) and his appointment as MB was not a political appointment.

Raja Sir Tun Uda, the First Governor of Penang, and his family (my uncles and aunty).

MCA closes an eye: Hisham's no longer so 'racial' but others disagree

MCA closes an eye: Hisham's no longer so 'racial' but others disagree

Despite the widely-held perception that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is playing the racial card even more than when he was the UMNO Youth chief, MCA leaders who have been faulted by him for incompetence begged to differ.

They preferred not to chide Hisham for comments revealed in WikiLeaks that he blamed their party for the BN's loss of non-Malay votes in the 2008 general elction.

“This happened four years ago. You can’t say that this is his current stand,” Malaysian Insider reported MCA vice president Donald Lim as saying.

As for MCA president Chua Soi Lek, he said that if he reacted, “it would result in very inflammatory comments” but stopped short of expressing what those burning remarks could be.

Cowards and opportunists

The MCA leaders were immediately ticked off by Pakatan Rakyat leaders, who expressed disgust at their political "opportunism" and "cowardice".

"I thought Hisham is even more hardline and extreme than before. His behaviour over the Bersih rally and the cowhead incident in Selangor cannot be swept under the rug," PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle.

Despite frequent criticism, and with many Malaysians often rebuking Hisham for tending to react without thinking, he is now regarded as a strong contender for the Deputy Prime Minister's post. Incumbent Muhyiddin Yassin is expected to successfully challenge Prime Minister Najib Razak for the country's top job next year.

MCA leaders especially Soi Lek and his deputy Liow Tiong Lai have already been accused of throwing their support behind Muhyiddin.

"For sure, Soi Lek and Co. will also be cosying up to Hishammuddin now," Eddie Wong, a PKR veteran, toldMalaysia Chronicle.

Since a shock survey released earlier this week by the Merdeka Centre showed Najib's popularity had plunged to 59 percent in August compared to 65 percent in May and 72 percent in May 2010, there has been red-hot speculation that he may be asked to announce a 'succession' plan in favour of Muhyiddin when their UMNO party meets in December.

"I believe the survey results are significant. I am sure all the parties will pay close attention as it can affect the outcome of the next General Election. But whether this extends to Muhyiddin taking over from Najib is too soon to tell," Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, told Malaysia Chronicle.

However, he agreed there were limited choices in UMNO and if there was any power transition, Hisham stood a good chance of becoming the DPM.

It was MCA's fault

During the 2006 UMNO assembly, Hisham and the deputy Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin offended the non-Malays when they raised the keris (or Malay short sword) and proclaimed Malay supremacy.

The act suggested that they were willing to shed non-Malay blood for the sake of their unsubstantiated claims of being defenders of the Malay race. This was cited as a factor for the BN's failure to retain the non-Malay votes in the 2008 general election.

However, a leaked US cable revealed on Wednesday that Hisham blamed the negative non-Malay response on the MCA, accusing them of being unable to 'manage' the reaction of the Chinese.

- Malaysia Chronicle

Australian High Court blocks refugee swap

The decision – citing that Malaysia lacked legal safeguards - now leaves hundreds of boat people in legal limbo.

SYDNEY: Australia’s High Court dealt a heavy blow to the government Wednesday by blocking its plans to send asylum-seekers to Malaysia, ruling they could not go to a nation lacking legal safeguards.

Australia had hoped to send up to 800 asylum-seekers to the Asian nation in exchange for resettling 4,000 of its refugees, and the decision leaves hundreds of boat people in legal limbo.

The nation’s top court found that under Australian law the government could not send asylum-seekers to be processed in another nation unless that country was compelled to adequately protect them.

“The country must be legally bound by international law or its own domestic law to… provide protection for asylum-seekers pending determination of their refugee status,” it said in a summary of the judgment.

“In addition to these criteria, the Migration Act requires that the country meet certain human rights standards in providing that protection.”

Refugee activists rejoiced at the decision which they said vindicated their view that Malaysia was a dangerous destination for asylum-seekers and that sending vulnerable people there would breach Australia’s legal obligations.

The government was despondent at the ruling on the politically divisive issue, which comes as the minority coalition government’s popularity sinks to record lows in opinion polls.

“Let’s make no bones about it, today’s decision by the High Court is a profoundly disappointing one,” Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said.

The so-called Malaysia Solution was part of Australia’s regional response to halting the flow of thousands of boat people who arrive on its shores each year, which is also set to involve a centre in Papua New Guinea.

Decision cannot be appealed

Bowen said the court ruling could have ramifications for the regional policy, but he would not indicate how his centre-left Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard would react.

Human rights groups had slammed the Malaysia deal, accusing Australia of abandoning its international obligations to asylum-seekers by dumping them in a country without proper protections for its more than 90,000 refugees.

Lawyers for the two Afghan men at the centre of the High Court case had argued that the deal breached Australia’s duties towards asylum-seekers because Malaysia is not a signatory to the UN convention on refugees.

The High Court sided with them in a majority ruling which cannot be appealed. Experts said the government could, however, attempt to amend the Migration Act to get around the ruling.

The court said that in deciding the matter, it expressed no view about whether Malaysia met relevant human rights standards or whether refugees in that country were treated fairly.

Canberra unveiled its new strategy in May, promising that all maritime arrivals would be processed offshore with the first 800 to go to Malaysia and that they would be treated humanely.

The first group were set to leave for Kuala Lumpur two weeks ago, but refugee lawyer David Manne applied for an injunction pending a High Court hearing saying the men feared for their safety in Malaysia.

‘A complete and utter mess’

Amnesty International said Canberra should never have contemplated “outsourcing Australia’s refugee protection obligations to a country which regularly canes, detains and abuses asylum seekers”.

Conservative opposition MP Scott Morrison agreed, describing the government’s asylum and border policy as “a complete and utter mess.”

“I’ve been to Malaysia. I’ve seen the conditions under which asylum-seekers would be living, and it was clear to me that the protections the minister (Bowen) boldly claimed existed simply didn’t exist,” he said.

Australian governments have long grappled with how to handle boat people, over the years detaining them in desert centres, on the tiny Pacific island nation of Nauru and on the remote Indian Ocean territory of Christmas Island. In 2010, arrivals peaked at close to 7,000, but far fewer than half that number have arrived in Australian waters so far this year.

- AFP