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Is Ong Ka Ting going to apologise as MCA President on behalf of Tee Kiat for stepping on the toes of UMNO Youth leader?

Speech by
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliment, Friday) :  When UMNO Youth leader and Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein declared “war” on Datuk Ong Tee Keat, MCA National Vice President and Deputy Higher Education Minister on Tuesday, Hishammuddin said he was hurt   by the “manner, words and location” used by Ong as “a high-ranking officer in MCA and Barisan Nasional” in making the  “irresponsible statement that government officers are corrupt in public”. (Malaysiakini 12.9.06)


Is the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting  now going to apologise  on behalf of Tee Kiat for “a high-ranking officer in MCA”  stepping on the toes of the UMNO Youth leader?


Or is Hishammuddin fully satisfied that the four MCA Ministers had supported the Cabinet decision on Wednesday to reprimand Ong for speaking up against  “leakages” and  abuses of funds earmarked for repair of Chinese primary schools to prevent avoidable  deaths or serious injuries to teachers and students like the tragic case of  SJKC Keat Hwa (near Alor Star) teacher, Chan Boon Heng,  42, who died of internal injuries after falling through rotting termite-infested floorboards last September?


I do not believe that Chan Boon Heng’s soul would rest in peace at the “hijacking” of the issue – to ensure that there is no misuse of a  single sen of the RM10 million allocated to repair 114 Chinese primary schools, 71 Tamil schools and 25 missionary schools to make the school premises safe for our teachers and students and  that there would  not be another tragic death like his.


This should be the priority agenda of the Cabinet, as  serious “leakages” and abuses of funds in  government contracts and projects, including those of the Education Ministry,  is an open secret.  Everybody knows about it and if Cabinet Ministers do not know, then either they are lying or they are not living in the real world.


The expose of “leakages” and abuses of funds for the repair of the two schools, SJKC Kung Yu and SJKC Ai Hwa should have given the Education Minister and the Cabinet the “golden opportunity” to launch a “clean up” campaign  to  eradicate the “human termites”  pocketing public funds with delivery of sub-standard government projects which pose physical dangers in school premises to teachers and students – such as delivering RM3,000 worth of work for a RM30,000 school-repair project.


Instead, the issues of  accountability,  integrity  and  the safety for teachers and students, had been sidestepped, providing  another instance where the whistleblower is again pilloried for highlighting “leakages” and misappropriation of public funds, coupled the bureaucratic and meaningless statements  whether by the Deputy Education Minister Datuk Hon Choon Khim claiming that only one of the 140 national-type Chinese schools had faced problems involving repair works or by the Education Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr. Zulkurnain Awang that the repair bills for the two Chinese schools in Johore had been completed,  the bills paid and thus the “issue of misappropriation…do not arise”.


With such naivette and/or indifference, is it any wonder that Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index had been on the relentless decline from No. 23 in 1995 to No. 37 in 2003, falling down further to No. 39 for 2004 and 2005 despite the pledge by the new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to  break from the corruption of the past and  to lead a clean and  incorruptible administration?


The Cabinet decision on Wednesday reprimanding Ong for speaking up against “leakages” and abuses of funds in school repair projects is a shame and disgrace for the following reasons:


  • It shows a “half-past six” Cabinet which is incapable of living up to Abdullah’s pledge to make anti-corruption and misappropriation of public funds his most important legacy;


  • It highlights the shocking inability of the Cabinet to distinguish between right and wrong, and a proper sense of national priorities – as confirmed by the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that he did not want to “discuss the facts of the issue”. Clearly “cover up” continues to be more important to “opening up” the government to the scrutiny of accountability and transparency.


  • The failure of the four MCA Ministers in Cabinet to stand up not only for Ong but what the MCA Youth leader, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai has described as a clear case of “black and white”.  If the four MCA Ministers cannot stand up  for what is right and wrong in a case involving RM30,000, how can the people expect them to take any stand on Ninth Malaysia Plan development expenditures involving RM220 billion in the next five years?


DAP MPs will question the misplacement of priorities by Hishammuddin in Parliament in  the Ministerial winding-up of the budget debate next week. Can we expect support from principled MPs, not only from MCA, but also Gerakan, MIC, UMNO and other Barisan Nasional component parties?



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

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