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Tee Kiat should have been commended for speaking out against “leakage” of public funds  instead of being pilloried by a “half-past six” Cabinet which neither sought his explanation nor wanted to hear or know the truth as had been pledged by Abdullah when he became Prime Minister

Speech by
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliment, Thursday) :  MCA National Vice President and Deputy Higher Education Minister, Datuk Ong Tee Kiat should have been commended for speaking out against “leakages”, abuse and misappropriation of public funds instead of being pilloried by a “half-past six” Cabinet which neither sought his explanation nor wanted to hear or know the truth as had been pledged by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he first  became Prime Minister three years ago.


The apology by the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Mustapha Mohamad to the Education Ministry over a statement made by his deputy minister on misappropriation of funds meant for Chinese school renovations is most extraordinary, as it was made without giving Ong a chance to be heard, which is totally against the most basic rule of natural justice.


As Ong said subsequently, he did not know anything beforehand about Mustapha’s apology.


Why did Mustapha publicly apologise without finding out the facts and truth from his deputy?


In his uncharacteristic, undignified and misguided outburst against Ong, the Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein went to considerable lengths to flay Ong as a political  opportunist and ingrate, narrating how he had “saved” Ong’s political career when he was to be axed as MCA Youth leader by former MCA President Tun Ling Liong Sik -   culminating in a warning that he would never forgive Ong or forget the incident.


Without going into the very interesting  question as to who is most guilty of wanting to be a “communal hero” from recent events, it is clear that Hishammuddin’s outburst was directed at Ong as MCA National Vice President and former MCA Youth leader and not as Deputy Higher Education Minister.


Why then had the four MCA Ministers in yesterday’s Cabinet kept silent instead of clarifying the proper picture?


Ong had said that Hishammuddin had been misled by incorrect and distorted translation of Chinese news reports of his statement in Muar last Friday on the misappropriation of renovation funds for SJKC Ai Hua and  SJKC Kung Yu.


The question everyone is asking is why the four MCA Ministers did not give a proper briefing to the Cabinet yesterday so that Ministers will not be misled as had happened to Hishammuddin.


Instead, the four MCA Ministers were party to the Cabinet decision that Ong was wrong and that Mustapha should publicly apologise for his deputy minister on the matter.  


If this is not a “half-past six” Cabinet, then what is?


What is most shocking  about the whole incident is that the Cabinet is not only showing its “half-past six” colours, it appears to have set its face against the Abdullah commitment to give the topmost priority to uphold transparency and integrity and fight corruption and all forms of abuses of power.


When the issue of corruption and misappropriation of public funds is completely sidelined, with the UMNO Youth leader wielding his political muscles inside and outside the Cabinet, it is another tragic milestone of the three-year  failure of the Abdullah Cabinet to “walk the talk” of Abdullah’s pledges of transparency and integrity.


The least the Cabinet should have done is to order an independent investigation into disbursement of the RM10 million for renovation funds to make schools safe for teachers and students after the tragic and criminal circumstances leading to the totally unnecessary  death of teacher Chan Boon Heng, 42, who died of internal injuries after falling through rotting termite-infested floorboards at the SJK © Keat Hwa near Alor Star last September.


The statement by the Deputy Education Minister Datuk Hon Choon Kim that only one of the 140 national-type Chinese schools had faced problems involving repair works on the school buildings is most irresponsible and deplorable.


Hon said: “As far as I know, there has been no complaints from other schools. I had also visited several schools, but had not come across such problems.”


Hon would have said that none of the 140 SJKCs had any problems if he had been asked before last Friday!


Let there be an independent investigation into the disbursement of the RM10 million renovation funds including the  140 SJKCs  to make our schools safe for teachers and  pupils as it is criminal for any leakage or misappropriation of funds which jeopardize their personal safety and endanger their lives and limbs.


The  independent investigation should  not involve either the Education Ministry or Works Ministry, which are parties involved, to ascertain the problem of  “leakage” as a result of corruption or misappropriation from the RM10 million school renovation allocation.


I had warned in Parliament that  a 10% “leakage” from the RM220 billion Ninth Malaysia Plan would come to a walloping RM22 billion – and there are those who would put the “leakage” to even as high as 30 per cent, which would come to some RM66 billion!  In some cases, the “leakage” could be even higher than 50% as to reach 70%-80%.


Let us not sweep the  important issues of transparency and integrity, whether concerning the RM10 million school renovation allocations last year or the RM220 million Ninth Malaysia Plan, under the carpet!



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

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