Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Be fair to our people back home

Be fair to our own people back home.

We need not care too much of what others have said about us so long as we were doing the right things.

The best defense for PM Abdullah is to build a truly just, liberal, free, democratic, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.

Media statement by Ronnie Liu Tian Khiew, DAP CEC member and NGO bureau chief on Wednesday, 3 October 2006 in Petaling Jaya.

I have earlier commented that I did not expect PM Abdullah to write a letter to Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew for a clarification on his controversial remark, where he said that “Malaysian Chinese were systematically marginalized”.

And I subsequently suggested to him not to collect the letter to save him some embarrassment.

But all that were not necessary now that MM Lee has writen a letter and decided to release his letter for all to read.

MM Lee has chosen to release the letter probably because he was afraid that what he said in his letter could be twisted by the Malaysian authority for propaganda.

And true enough.

If you read his letter carefully, you will know that MM Lee did not apologize for what he had said earlier. He did not retract a single thing he has said in the international dialogue.

He went further to say that Singapore never protested over the racist remarks made by various UMNO leaders in the past. He even provides an annex of past remarks as evidence.

MM Lee appears as saying “Do not unto others what you don't want others do unto you".

So, it is merely a personal apology to PM Abdullah for causing a great deal of discomfort to him.

In addition, MM Lee uses the opportunity to attack former PM Mahathir Mohamad. He is doing this to settle the score over the crooked bridge controversy.

He also took the opportunity to insinuate the behavior of some UMNO politicians in his letter: "And from time to time, when Malaysian politicians attack Singapore fiercely over some bilateral issue, some of them tell us privately that we should just accept this as part of Malaysian politics and not react to these attacks."

After reading his letter, we can safely say that MM Lee’s remark was aiming at explaining to the Americans and other foreigners why Singapore needs a strong government with little or no opposition.

One Malaysiakini reader, in his comment over the letter, has put it pretty well and I quote, “LKY’s statement, in essence, was his ongoing propaganda to the people of Singapore to rally round the PAP flag.

He was justifying why Singapore needs a repressive government and why LKY will not accept any coalition nor brook any strong opposition. He asserts he is able to say no to Malaysia over bilateral issues not considered favorable to Singapore because of a strong PAP-led government. Any weakening of the government by the emergence of an opposition will undermine the ability of Singapore to say no to Malaysia and erode its bargaining power.”

He was justifying his intolerance of opposition ideas in Singapore to an international audience because the suppression of the rights of Singaporeans to demonstrate during the IMF Conference had been highlighted by the international media and was a hot issue. Lee Kuan Yew’s justification, and certainly not for the first time, was to point out that he has to keep the opposition under the PAP’s jackboots lest his Malay neighbors undermine Singapore’s sovereignty."

“Knowing that the US needs Singapore in its China containment policy, such an appeal would have gone down well with the US and its allies in the audience and clouded the issue of the rights of Singaporean’s to oppose the PAP. Never mind that it will be viewed as being mischievous and certainly not welcomed by his neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia.”

MM Lee is sorry to hurt PM Abdullah’s feelings but still stands by what he said. It’s therefore wrong and unprofessional for Barisan Nasional-controlled newspapers to headline their front pages in a manner as if MM Lee has apologized to Malaysia (which he clearly did not).

He has once again demonstrated his skill, i.e. “to say 'No' in a very quiet, polite way that doesn't provoke them into doing something silly."

MM Lee stood up for what he said and what he said is the truth. He only apologizes for causing Abdullah Badawi discomfort for telling the truth.

We noticed that Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar was unable to respond to MM Lee’s letter. He wanted to wait for PM Abdullah to say his piece first.

PM Abdullah is now reported as “unimpressed with MM Lee’s reply” in an AFP report today, I wonder how the Government-controlled newspapers are going to report in their headlines tomorrow.

Abdullah reiterated his view that the comments from MM Lee were "uncalled for and not appreciated" and risked inflaming racial tensions in the multicultural country.

But we have no clues of what Abdullah would do next or simply leave the matter to rest.

I like to put it to MM Lee that two wrongs do not make one right.

Allow me to say this to MM Lee: “You do not make such remark simply because your counterparts in another country have accused you for marginalizing your own citizens based on ethnic background.

You have made such remark because you know you were right. It is unnecessary for you to retaliate with the annex of remarks made by UMNO leaders in the past. You have the right to do so but by putting in the annex, you have given others an impression that “I do this because you have done that to me”, rather than “what I have said earlier was correct.”

You may have apologized to PM Abdullah for causing him a great deal of discomfort, but I’m afraid your letter has actually caused more headaches for him. Your decision to release the letter publicly has shown that you do not trust him very much. That’s one of the reasons why he was not impressed with your letter. But what did he expect in the first place?

You may have saved him the trouble of “whether to tell or not to tell” Malaysians about what you have said in your letter, but he is now trapped in a position- “whether to reply or not to reply” to your letter”. Just expressing his displeasure and dissatisfaction with the letter was surely not sufficient to put the dispute to rest.”

I doubt PM Abdullah has very much grounds to rebut whatever said by MM Lee. But how could he keep mum when MM Lee has not retracted a single word he said about the marginalization?

And I doubt very much the boys on “tingkat empat” (4th floor) could help writing a “good enough” letter to save the elegant grace of PM Abdullah. This is not as easy as making money out of restructuring of GLCs.

And I sincerely hope that Malaysian politicians would refrain from saying how Singapore has been marginalizing the Malays there for “two wrongs do not make one right”.

The best answer PM Abdullah could give will be proving MM Lee wrong by dismantling all race biased policies like the NEP and put forward more color-blind policies in the near future.

We need not care too much of what others have said about us so long as we were doing the right things back home.

We must be fair to our own citizens regardless of their race, religion and creed. ‘Malaysian First’ should be our attitude and spirit at all times.

The best way to defend Malaysia is to build a truly just, liberal, free, democratic, progressive and prosperous Malaysia.


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