Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 24 August 2019

Malaysian politicians do not seem to understand what democracy and the rule of law mean – they think that they are still in a feudal fiefdom where there is an expectation of privilege of office whatever the circumstances. Paul Yong Choo Kiong, who has been charged at the Sessions Court for rape has refused to go on leave pending the disposal of his court case, arguing that he will continue carrying out his responsibilities as Perak executive councillor despite being advised to.



Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, 4 July 2016

Zaid Ibrahim’s recent call to the Opposition to boycott elections in Malaysia brings into full circle the boycott of the 1969 general election by the Labour Party which gave the DAP the opportunity to replace the former as the main opposition party in Malaysia in the first place. Does Zaid really think that the DAP leadership has changed so much these 47 years that they now think in such principled terms?

In other words, the DAP were by no means the principled socialists who could see that the Malaysian state, which had incarcerated practically the entire leadership of the Labour Party before the general election, was the executive that managed the interests of the bourgeoisie. The Malaysian state used the ISA and other oppressive laws to shackle the Labour Party so that it was unable to participate fully in the electoral process. Any principled socialist would at least have an opinion about such underhand tactics by the Malaysian state ruling on behalf of the whole bourgeoisie.

Cheating at the democracy game

The dominant regime has undertaken a “rebranding exercise” in their methods of maintaining their rule – the ISA and the Emergency Ordinance have now become SOSMA, POCA and POTA while the Sedition Act remains a colonial relic that is still a useful net to fling over all detractors.

What about the Malaysian Judiciary? Have the DAP leaders ever had high hopes of its independence? So what’s new?

The ISA and other oppressive laws are merely one aspect of the ways the bourgeois state cheats at this democracy game. The other methods of bending the rules include: gerrymandering and other tricks of electioneering; control of the media by the state and its allies among the bourgeoisie, various methods of vote buying using state resources, the trusted use of communalism and not forgetting, selective prosecution.

But since the DAP do not believe in any alternative to the capitalist state of Malaysia, they have to play by the rules of liberal democracy in this system even though it is very clear that the regime practices selective prosecution.

Any leader charged with a felony HAS to step down

It is a matter of principle and procedure under such a system of liberal democracy that anyone in a position of power who has been charged with serious felony such as corruption, HAS to step down, including the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister. This means that any elected leader who has been indicted on such a charge, is required to step down, at least temporarily, although they remain innocent until proven guilty. This rule of democracy applies to ALL leaders, irrespective of whether they are federal or state or municipal leaders.

This principle continues to apply even if the indicted leader’s executive committee votes unanimously to retain him, nor can a leader’s innocence be determined by any political campaign to whip up support for the indicted leader.

From the perspective of law and justice, a refusal to step down relies on the preposterous assumption that the leader in question, who is surely mortal, is INCORRUPTIBLE!  Unlike ABBA, jurists do not believe in angels…

If such is the case, then let the judicial system that the DAP has supported all these years, decide.

Imagine that the PM has been charged with corruption…

By not stepping down, the DAP leaders are setting a dangerous precedent for the eventuality that the Prime Minister or some other UMNO Chief Minister is similarly charged with corruption. Will we allow them to cling to their posts simply because their Cabinet or Executive Committee unanimously votes to retain them? And can the PM go on a nation-wide tour to whip up support from his supporters? Will this testify to his innocence if he receives widespread support all over the country? Or let us take this further: The PM conducts a nation-wide referendum to gauge the peoples’ opinion of his guilt or innocence – Is that going to prove his innocence?

All elected leaders are accountable and recallable

In any democracy including a workers’ government such as was seen in the Paris Commune in 1871, accountability and recallability are expected of the legislative and executive leaders elected by workers’ representatives.

The NGOs call for the Establishment of the Royal Commission on ESSCOM and Hostage Crisis Management

The following NGOs call for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to probe the effectiveness of Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZONE) and hostage crisis management in Sabah, following the latest mishandling of the “Sibu 4” hostage crisis which involves public and family contribution of RM 12 million.

While we cheer for the release and safety of the hostages, the whereabouts of the RM 12 million has been given so many contradictory statements by the authorities:

  • June 9: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar claimed that no ransom was paid

  • June 16: the families claimed that they have handed over the RM 12 million to the police

  • June 16: DPM cum Home Minister Zaid Hamidi claimed that the RM 12 million was donated to some Islamic charities in the Philipppines
  • June 17: IGP Khalid Abu Bakar denied that the police have received the RM 12 million

  • June 20:Abu Sayyaf angry not all ransom money went to them.

The contradictory statements have unfortunately raised questions of accountability and integrity not only on the authorities, but earlier also the families which have suffered emotionally because of the ordeal itself. One of the families even sold their two houses in order to save the lives of their loved ones.

The Home Minister’s “donation” claim is neither sensible nor acceptable on two grounds.

  1. The money was raised from the public and does not belong to the police. Hence, the police have no right to channel the money for other purposes.
  2. Calling the transfer of money as “donation” and channelled it to “a body in the Philippines which assists in an Islamic struggle” is legitimising the kidnapping of non-Muslims by the Abu Sayaff terrorists.

If this is a poor camouflage of payment of ransom, it shows the Government has failed twice as compared to other governments who paid to secure the release of their citizens kidnapped by terrorists.

First, the Government failed to assist the hostage families, leading to the need for them to raise fund publicly and complicating the matter. In other countries, ransom is paid by government or public enterprises with broad consensus across political parties.

Second, when publicly-raised fund is used and accountability is expected, the government has left the families to answer the public query and eventually came out with contradictory statements now leading to speculations if the ransom money has been misappropriated.

This entire fiasco is itself indicative of the weakness of our marine defence in Sabah. Clearly, the ESSZONE which was launched on 25 March 2013 and cost Malaysians RM 1.3 billion so far has not been effective.

Less than half a year before the kidnapping of the Sibu 4 hostages on April 2, another Sarawakian Bernard Thein was beheaded by Abu Sayaff in November. He was kidnapped while dining in a Sandakan restaurant on May 15, 2015.

On 6 May 2014, a Chinese national, Yang Zailin, was kidnapped from a fish farm in Lahad Datu’s Silam, Sabah.

On 2 April 2014, a Chinese female tourist, Gao Huayun and a Filipino were kidnapped at the Singgahmata Hotel, Sabah.

An RCI is necessary to look at both how to improve our marine security and handle hostage crisis.

It needs to study how the threat of hostage-for-money terrorism can be curbed, by not just improving our military and police surveillance, but also through international cooperation and religious preaching against deviant teaching that kidnapping non-Muslims for money is acceptable. Malaysians cannot be treated as ATM machines by terrorists with some “charity body” as their agent.

With regards to the management of the Sibu 4 crisis, the RCI can establish facts, clear the air and restore public confidence in the home ministry and the police that there was no foul play and complicity of Malaysian officials in the management of the hostage crisis and the ransom money.

Endorsed by:

  1. Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Malaysia (ALIRAN)
  2. Anak Muda Sarawak  (AMS)
  3. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  4. BERSIH 2.0
  5. Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4)
  7. Institute for Development of Alternative Living (IDEAL)
  8. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia (IKRAM)
  9. Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
  11. Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
  12. Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI)
  13. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
  14. Pusat Komas (KOMAS)
  15. Komuniti Muslim Universal (KMU) Malaysia
  16. Persatuan Bekas Siswazah Universiti dan Kolej di China, Malaysia (LiuHua)
  17. LLG Cultural Development Centre (LLG)
  18. Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS)
  19. Majlis Perundingan Malaysian Agama Buddha, Kritisian , Hindu, Sikh dan Tao (MCCBCHST)
  20. Malaysian Indians Transformation Action Team (MITRA)
  21. National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT)
  22. Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly Hall (NSCAH)
  23. Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI)
  24. Partners in Community Organising (Pacos Trust), Sabah.
  25. Persatuan Masyarakat Sel dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
  26. Malaysian Youth Care Association (PRIHATIN)
  27. Federation of Malaysian Indian Organisation (PRIMA)
  28. Persatuan Rapat Malaysia (RAPAT)
  29. Rise of Sarawak Efforts (ROSE)
  30. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  31. Sabah Women’s Action Resource Group (SAWO)
  32. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  33. United Chinese School Alumni Associations of Malaysia (UCSAAM)
  34. Tamil Foundation (TF)
  35. Tindak Malaysia
  36. Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (Warga AMAN)
  38. Women Development of Malaysia PJ Branch


Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 22 March 2016

More than twenty years ago, when the CM of Penang was an aspiring DAP leader under the watchful eyes of his father, his stance in public was invariably that of a squabbling adversary. Headlines in the party newspaper at the time would emblazon acerbic accusations such as “KENG YAIK YOU ARE A LIAR!” to the approval of fawning devotees.

Despite his many years of political experience and the fact that he is now safely ensconced as Penang’s Chief Minister, we still witness the same cockerel stance and irresponsible blaming attitude. Through the years many personalities have been targeted as “liars” by the CM. Here I will confine my observations to just three recent episodes:
(i) the CM calling a councillor a liar for pointing out the tardiness of municipal officers;

(ii) the CM’s personal challenge to a valid query by a Member of Parliament who had raised questions of suspected irregularities in the purchase of the CM’s house, and

(iii) the CM’s repeated public excoriation of the leader of the Malay-based Islamic party using the same irresponsible label.

The Penang CM would do well to live up to the claims of a democrat as suggested by his party name. As someone in a responsible position from which he is seen to be leading the state into a better future, he ought to have outgrown the blame frame mentality. Whenever any issues arise it would be more useful if he asks instead, “What happened? What are our solutions?” and proceed to account for any improprieties.

1. CM calls Councillor Liar 7 Times in 1 statement

Highly respected Penang Island city councilor Dr Lim Mah Hui, who was accused of lying by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng over the towing of cars, has asked Lim and the 12 councillors mainly from the DAP who maligned him to apologise to him publicly without any prejudice to his right to legal recourse. Dr Lim said Guan Eng issued a highly defamatory public statement on March 12 accusing him of being a “hero with lies” and “lying” no fewer than seven times. Dr Lim said:

“These accusations went against the very principles of CAT that the state government claims to espouse. Instead we see incompetence in accountability and a flagrant injustice to me personally and as an MBPP councillor.”

As if he did not know the role of a city councilor, the combative CM had also challenged Dr Lim to “take over and oversee” the towing of cars in the council. Dr Lim of course declined and said his role as a councillor is to advise and it was the job of the city council’s personnel to enforce the council’s regulations.

2. CM challenges MP over dodgy bungalow purchase

Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya Shabudin had made a typically DAP-style revelation in Parliament recently that the bungalow that the CM bought, on 10,161 sq ft (943.98 sq metres) of land, on Oct 25 last year for RM2.8mil was actually worth between RM6mil and RM6.5mil on the market. Furthermore, the previous houseowner was linked to the company which had won the bid in the sale of a piece of land at Taman Manggis.

In response, Lim threw a challenge to Shabudin the next day for a one on one meeting at his office in Komtar and when the latter declined, he expressed disappointment with the Tasek Gelugor MP for not show up, saying:
“Datuk Shabudin had the opportunity to seek clarification over his allegation in Parliament. His absence was unbecoming of a leader who has thrown malicious accusations against me.”

As if it was a vindication of his accountability, the CM and his wife then took a group of journalists for a tour of his bungalow to show them that the property was not comparable to Khir Toyo’s mansion nor did it have a swimming pool!

And in shocking display of pretended ignorance, the CM claimed that he did not know the market value of the bungalow he bought last year for RM2.8 million. Speaking to reporters invited to view his house, he said he was not a property agent. For a CM who has to know the property value of reclamation land and property development throughout Penang island to claim he does not know the property value of his own house on the market, that is truly incredible! I dare say, if we take a survey, practically every house owner in Malaysia, including those who are not highly educated, will say they know the market value of the house they own…

3. CM calls PAS Leader a Liar Again and Again

The third and perhaps the most consequential target of the CM’s attacks is the leader of the Malay-based Islamic party, Ustaz Hadi Awang. The DAP CM has called the PAS leader a liar so many times over Hudud, TPPA, the Kajang Move… we have lost count.

Considering the DAP claims that it is trying to reach out to the Malay community in order to dilute its image as a Chinese-based party, I honestly cannot understand how their CM does not think that his persistent attacks on the PAS paramount leader is downright rude and only serves to mobilise PAS’ Malay supporters against the DAP.

Does the DAP really think the damage to the DAP’s image from such outbursts against the PAS spiritual leader is outweighed by their few token Malays in the DAP leadership? Even if the Penang CM can be excused for his immaturity, surely his father who has been in politics ever since the Tunku’s era should know such Malaysian reality and the mentality of the Malay voters. Noticing the absence of PAS supporters at the recent Bersih 4 rally, it would be foolish to simply assume that PAS supporters are inconsequential and only important in the rural constituencies.

Accountable, responsible & democratic leaders
Leaders who claim to aspire to “the Malaysian dream” are expected to practice what they preach and to behave responsibly. Nothing less than transparent, principled, democratic behaviour will do. And what does such democratic behaviour in meetings look like and sound like?

Well for a start, it is inclusive, everybody has the right to be heard and collectively agree on the rules by which dialogue takes place and how decisions will be made. There will be respectful exchanges in which feedback about the issues and facts is given without fear or favour. Of course if the collective rules are broken there is a basis for next steps, and even then responsible leaders do not resort to personal attack.

We hope the Penang CM will spare us any further blame frames and personal attacks and set an example with accountable, responsible and democratic action that Malaysians expect.