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The Marginal Man Tsu Koon as the punch drunk Chief Minister as a result of the batterings  of UMNO and UMNO Youth attacks and allegations of the neglect, discrimination and marginalization of the Malays in Penang

by Lim Kit Siang  


(Penang, Saturday) :  Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon has become punch drunk of a Chief Minister as a result of the batterings by UMNO and UMNO Youth attacks and allegations of the neglect, discrimination and marginalization of the Malays in Penang, built up to a rising crescendo in the past months.


In boxing parlance,  a boxer is said to be punch drunk when he had suffered repeated blows to the head by his opponent, and is behaving in a confused, dazed or groggy manner.


The  escalating allegations of neglect, discrimination and marginalization of the Malays in Penang were accompanied by  a  series of demands at the state level which included:


  • Rotation of the Penang Chief Ministership;


  • Making Penang Island a Federal Territory;


  • Removal of Tsu Koon as Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBAPP) Chairman;


  • Appointing the Umno Deputy Chief Minister as Chairman of the Penang Development Board.


National Umno leaders had also weighed in to support Penang Umno and Umno Youth pressures, such as:


  • Umno Youth deputy leader Khairy Jamaluddins demand for target and time-frame to end Malay neglect, discrimination and marginalization in Penang;


  • Khairys allegation  that the Malays on Penang Island have been driven out to Sebarang Prai and Kedah and are only left in Balik Pualu; 


  • UMNO Youth leader Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Husseins warning that Tsu Koon must meet with Penang Umno Youth despite the public humiliation suffered by the Chief Minister at the Tanjung Umno division premises opening where he was ignored and insulted by the Tanjong Umno chief, Datuk Ahmad ibni Hajar and the seven-banner public protest against him by Balik Pulau Umno Youth;


  • Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razaks directive to Tsu Koon  to give more executive powers to the Umno Deputy Chief Minister and to prove that he is Chief Minister for all races in Penang.


I do not blame Tsu Koon for being punch drunk from these stinging blows over such a sustained period, and there is a public feeling of pity and sympathy with him, somewhat like public reactions at the defeat of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad  to be elected a delegate for the  Kubang Pasu Umno division after being an autocratic Prime Minister for 22 years!


As a result,  Tsu Koon has developed a media-phobia, as his every statement had led to further Umno or Umno Youth attacks. Now he says that he would not comment any more in the press on  Umno and Umno Youth attacks and would use existing communication channel within the Barisan Nasional proof that  his earlier effort to come to the aid of  Hishammuddin to overcome criticisms of the Umno Youth leaders  keris-wielding episode last year by also him carrying a bigger keris had clearly not been appreciated.


It would appear in the backdrop of the allegations of the marginalization of Malays in Penang, it is Tsu Koon who has become  the marginal man!


Have the Malays in Penang been marginalized?


In the past 13 years, either the Deputy Prime Minister or Prime Minister had come from Penang.  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim became Deputy Prime Minister in October 1993, and after his expulsion from Umno in 1998, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took over as Deputy Prime Minister, becoming Prime Minister in October 2003.


If the Malays in Penang are marginalized after 16 years of Tsu Koon as Penang Chief Minister, surely the National Umno cannot escape  full responsibility for the failure to look after the interests of the Malays in Penang when for the past 13 years the Deputy Prime Minister or Prime Minister had been the highest Umno leader come from Penang.


Did Tsu Koon dare to point out this fact to the Umno and Umno Youth leaders? Did Gerakan President, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik dare to mention this to his Umno Ministerial colleagues in Cabinet?


Nobody can deny that in Penang, despite the comparatively high per capita income and lowest poverty rate in the country, there are Malays who are marginalized -  just as there are Chinese and Indians who are marginalized in the State.


But who have marginalized the Malays in Penang?  Any study will show that it is the Umnoputras who must bear the greatest responsibility.


The demand for the rotation of the Chief Ministers post by Penang Umno and Umno Youth has become a perennial issue.  Can such demands be made in the other states, for the rotation of the post of Mentri Besar in Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Johore and that of Chief Minister in Malacca and Sarawak?


Or can demands be made for the rotation of the post of Deputy Prime Minister or even Prime Minister at the national level?


The post of Chief Minister was rotated in Sabah  for about a decade after Barisan Nasional toppled the PBS government by seducing the defection of PBS State Assembly representatives in 1994, but it has now been forgotten as Umno has achieved its grand objective to grap power in Sabah.


As a result, the Kadazandusuns in Sabah are not only the most marginalized community in Malaysia but also in their own state, emasculated economically, politically and demographically with one estimate putting the Sabah state population as comprising 1.75 million foreigners who were illegal immigrants and 1.5 million native Sabahans!


When we talk about   marginalization, we must recognize that there is marginalization  of Malaysians in many different  fields economic, political, cultural, educational, religious, human rights, etc.


When the nation achieved independence in 1957, there was the social contract which provided that in Malacca, the two posts of Yang di Pertua and Chief Minister would be shared by Malays and Chinese, i.e. if the Governor is Malay, the Chief Minister would be Chinese and if the Governor is Chinese the Chief Minister would be Malay. It was  only observed for one term with Tun Leong Yew Koh as the first Malacca Governor from 31st August 1957 to 30th August 1959 but ignored for 47 years.


In the early years of nationhood, the Finance Minister and Trade and Commerce Minister were Chinese, but now they are only the Deputy Finance Minister and Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry.


Are Umno and Umno Youth leaders prepared to entertain MCA and Gerakan demands to rectify such political marginalization of the Chinese in Malaysia?


There is no time tonight to deal with the different aspects of marginalization in Malaysia economic, political, cultural, educational, religious, human rights, etc.


But let me refer to an IKIM (Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia) article in the Star of 22nd August 2006, entitled Debunking multiculturalism, which throws light of the problem of the marginalization of the constitutional, religious and human rights of Malaysians. It said:


It is through Malaysia, as an Islamic state, that other religions would thrive, and that we have better chance of fostering national unity based on a common religious worldview.


A secular Malaysia would be an enemy not only to Islam but a common enemy to all religions.


Tonight is not the occasion to rebut such a narrow and bigoted view, but its thesis that secular means anti-Islam and anti-religion must be debunked in no uncertain terms, as the social contract agreed by the forefathers of the major communities on the founding of the nation, written into the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and  1963 Malaysia Agreement,  reaffirmed by the 1970 Rukunegara, declared loud and clear that  Malaysia is a democratic, multi-racial,  secular and multi-religious nation with Islam as the official religion but is not an Islamic state. 


When the first three Prime Ministers, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein Onn publicly reaffirmed that Malaysia was  a secular and not Islamic state, it was never meant to be anti-religion, anti-God or anti-Islam, anti-Buddhist, anti-Christianity, anti-Hinduism, anti-Sikkhism  but pro-Islam, pro-Buddhism, pro-Christianity, pro-Hinduism and pro-Sikkhism  as there is nothing contradictory in maintaining that the state should be secular but the society and people should be religious.


Thus, Malaysians are faced with another example of  the creeping marginalization of their constitutional, religious and human rights in this case, thanks to the 929 Declaration of Mahathir when he was Prime Minister in making the unilateral, arbitrary and unconstitutional declaration that Malaysia was an Islamic State on Sept. 29, 2001 with the full support of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other Barisan Nasional component parties.


But apart from marginalization in the different sectors, all Malaysians are facing the challenge of the marginalization of Malaysia as a nation in the global arena, with Malaysia losing out in international competitiveness to more and more countries, such as  Thailand and very soon Vietnam.


I felt very sad when a Barisan Nasional MP recently said that Malaysia could be proud of the strides we had made since Independence in 1957 as compared to Ghana with him specifically saying that we should not compare with South Korea.


With such a mentality of wanting to compare with those who are worse and not those who are better, it is no wonder that Malaysia is being marginalized internationally in the era of globalization.


The Prime Minister has spoken of the need for towering Malays. But I have still to hear him talk about why the country needs towering Malaysians comprising towering Malays, towering Chinese, towering Indians, towering Kadazandusuns and towering Ibans.


There can be no towering Malaysia without towering Malaysians  and let there be no doubt, it is only by having towering Malaysians regardless of race that the marginalization of Malaysia in the global arena can be arrested and reversed.



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

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