Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 28 Feb 2018

I read with gob-smacked amazement that “environmental activist” Wong Tack, the DAP’s candidate for Bentong in the last general election is looking forward to Pakatan Harapan leader Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to Bentong. Instead of pushing the green agenda that he said would be his responsibility, he seems more concerned to stress that “Mahathir is popular not only among rural Malays but also had admirers among the Chinese”.  Continue reading “WONG TACK ON WRONG TRACK OF GREEN POLITICS”


Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 25 Jan 2018

Testifying at the hearing of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah’s defamation suit against Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Md Yunos, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI), the former Education Minister during Ops Lalang has claimed that the infamous Operasi Lalang resulted from the discord between MCA Youth and Umno Youth. At a stroke, he placed the responsibility on the UMNO Youth leader, Najib at the time and thus absolved both himself, the then Education Minister and Dr Mahathir, the then PM.

Those who respect the importance of truth in historical accounts, no matter how distasteful it may be, begin with discerning accurate facts and the related sequence of events. In this process, for facts before the advent of Google, Malaysians can be assisted by my record of the events in my 1992 title, ‘Malaysian Political Realities’. In the Introduction to my book, Leader of the Opposition Lim Kit Siang wrote:

“Dr Kua Kia Soong has aptly chosen the title of his book ‘Malaysian Political realities’…In Malaysia, there is not only an industry to rewrite history but a very high-powered conspiracy to daily distort and suppress reality through the government monopoly and control of the electronic and printed mass media…The ‘free press’ which the PM, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed, claims in international forums that Malaysia enjoys, is a press which is only ‘free’ to distort and suppress political realities in Malaysia.”

Contrived controversy between UMNO & MCA, October 1986

The first chapter in my 1992 title is called: ‘History and the Pribumi: Fruitless quest for the unholy grail’, which is a comment on the rather contrived controversy between UMNO and MCA during October 1986. It is important to note the date that the controversy was contrived, namely, October 1986.

In this article, I was at pains to point out that “the issue of whether any community is genuinely ‘pribumi’ or ‘immigrant’ has absolutely no significance to the question of peoples’ rights.” This controversy was by no means the only one orchestrated by UMNO in 1986. There was also the one about the “social contract” created by Datuk Abdullah Ahmad of “Ketuanan Melayu” fame.

Any serious scholar of Malaysian politics will know that all the “racial” controversies in recent Malaysian history including the May 13 incident, have been orchestrated by UMNO. Through all these years, there is no doubt that UMNO Youth has played the role of stormtroopers who carry out the breast beating and gong banging at the behest of their political masters in UMNO. I am sure DSAI is familiar with these “Standard Operating Procedures” within UMNO. The mob which attacked us during the Asia Pacific Conference on East Timor in 1996 was no different. Who should bear the responsibility for that shameful event then? Saifuddin or the UMNO Youth chief at the time Zahid Hamidi or DSAI himself?

Orchestrated controversy in Chinese schools, October 1987

Nevertheless, in Chapter 12 of my book, ‘OCTOBER 1987: The Furore in the Chinese Schools’, it was the Education Minister, namely, DSAI with the connivance of the PM at the time, Dr Mahathir, who made the decision to send non-qualified administrators to the Chinese schools. Whereas the contrived controversy over ‘Pribumi vs Immigrants’ by UMNO Youth and MCA Youth was in October 1986, it was the Chinese schools controversy in October 1987 which caused the Chinese community to protest against the unjust move and which resulted in orchestrated tension that led to Ops Lalang.

The DAP was also in the committee which opposed this unjust and orchestrated move to send unqualified administrators to the Chinese school. I am sure DAP leaders such as Lim Kit Siang will agree with me that it was not the UMNO Youth-MCA Youth spat in 1986 but the Chinese schools issue in October 1987 that led to Ops Lalang.

Certainly, the UMNO Youth leader at the time, Najib Razak was one of the UMNO firebrands who were at the Jalan Raja Muda stadium where racist banners were displayed just before Ops Lalang was launched. But responsibility for sending the unqualified administrators to the Chinese schools rests on DSAI while responsibility for launching the arrests and detention rests squarely on the Home Minister and Prime Minister at the time, Dr Mahathir.

Yes, you can be forgiven but…

Having left UMNO, both DSAI and Dr Mahathir can ask for forgiveness from the victims of Ops Lalang and the Chinese community for orchestrating that racial tension which gave Dr Mahathir the excuse to launch Ops Lalang, the precursor to his assault on the Judiciary.

One thing they must never do is to distort the facts of history. As Noam Chomsky has warned us:

“Younger people who are being indoctrinated into the contemporary system of falsification – they really have to do some research to find out what is the truth…”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau goes even further by saying, “The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind!”


Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 9 Jan 2018

What a breath of fresh air to read Sangeet Karpal’s statement on Pakatan Harapan’s endorsement of BN 2.0 with Malaysia’s infamous autocrat as their “interim Prime Minister”:

“The fact that the opposition had no one else to choose to be prime minister showed the coalition’s lack of long-term strategy… Mahathir will be PM all over again, introducing the rebirth of Mahathirism. The focus should always be on policies and principles (not personalities) and leaders must be groomed to ensure continuity. Will we be open to working with Najib one day, should desperate circumstances demand?” she asked in a statement.

Sangeet also said that Mahathir’s apology over the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other wrongdoings during his tenure as PM was done half-heartedly:

“This is not about forgiveness. This is about accountability. Persons in positions of power should be held accountable for their actions…Equally, he should be investigated too, especially since the opposition has vowed to revamp the Attorney-General’s Chambers once in power, there should be no double standards about who should be investigated.”

She pointed out that the leaders in the opposition had remained silent in the face of Mahathir’s recent hollow “apology”. Sangeet added that DAP had always been the voice against abuse of power, freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, sanctity of our institutions and other issues, ending her statement with:

“DAP, I can’t hear you…”

Now, how spot on is that? Does Sangeet’s statement not represent the quintessential Karpalian spirit and give us hope in human dignity? Why has the challenge to speak truth to power and to uphold the family’s dignity been taken up by some daughters and not others?

Another dignified daughter, Nurul Nuha

On 14 September 2016, the second daughter of Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Nuha Anwar did precisely that – she felt she had to uphold her family’s dignity by demanding that former PM, Dr Mahathir apologise for ‘trumped up’ charges against her father. Nurul Nuha, 32, said that Mahathir should own up for his accusations and other actions that led to her father’s arrest and conviction for sodomy and corruption in 1998:

“As a daughter who has witnessed the countless torments my father went through the past 18 years, my personal wish would be for Dr M to publicly apologise and admit the trumped up charges.”

She suggested that an apology from Mahathir for his past transgressions against his former deputy was a prerequisite before any alliance is formed between Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and PKR.

Can you blame her for her outburst after seeing the man who had publicly called her father a sodomiser and womaniser and morally unfit to be a leader (and Mahathir’s press conference is still there in Youtube for posterity!) become the new leader of Pakatan Harapan?

The other unspoken question for Mahathir is whether he is prepared to hand over the speculative Prime Ministership to Anwar after the latter’s release since he had previously and publicly stated that Anwar is morally unfit to be the Prime Minister? Is Mahathir now saying that Anwar is morally fit to be PM or is he saying he was wrong when he said that Anwar was unfit to be PM?

Thank goodness for daughters

After witnessing these interventions by Sangeet Karpal and Nurul Nuha Anwar at the critical junctures, I say: Thank goodness for daughters. They have proven that they still have marbles. The men seem to have lost their balls…

I have been told that since her statement, Sangeet has received brickbats from the moronic cyberpoopers who I believe, have been paid to poop all over social media for their political masters. Just ignore them Sangeet like I do. These so-called cyberpoopers are shameless cowards who can’t really read or write. They do not even dare to use their real names when they poop. For sure they will be despatched to the sewage heap of history.


Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 4 Jan 2017

Mahathir has tried in vain to wriggle out of the responsibility for Operation Lalang. Now he is attempting to put the blame for the sacking of Lord President Tun Salleh Abas and three other Supreme Court judges on the Agung. As I have pointed out often enough, these two outrages against Malaysian democracy in 1987 and 1988 respectively are inextricably linked. I am surprised that the opportunist politicians and crypto-Mahathiristas in Pakatan Harapan and the lawyers who were outraged in 1988 have so quickly forgotten recent Malaysian history or have lost their tongues. Let me remind them of Lord Denning’s words:

“Silence is not an option when things are ill done.”

We know that 1987 was a time during Dr Mahathir’s term when he was faced with the biggest threat to his rule, with Team B under Tengku Razaleigh challenging the results of the UMNO elections. A Supreme Court decision in Team B’s favour would have meant the end of Mahathir’s grasp on power.

Thus, in the run up to Operation Lalang and before the assault on the judiciary resulting in the sacking of the Lord President and several other Supreme Court judges, the ruling party catalysed a tense situation in the country by creating “sensitive” issues involving the sending of non-Mandarin qualified administrators to the Chinese schools, the conversion of Muslims to Christianity and even threatening to organize a 500,000-people UMNO rally in the capital. All the ensuing tension was to justify unleashing ‘Operation Lalang’ to deal with the so-called “threat to national security”.

The Tunku, at the time in his twilight years had more perception and integrity than Mahathir in his prime and certainly enough political nous to see how Operation Lalang was orchestrated:

“UMNO was facing a break-up. The Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s hold on the party appeared critical when election rigging was alleged to have given him a very narrow victory over Tengku Razaleigh. The case alleging irregularities brought by UMNO members was pending in court. If the judgement went against him he would have no choice but to step down. So, he had to find a way out of his predicament. A national crisis had to be created to bring UMNO together as a united force to fight a common enemy – and the imaginary enemy in this case was the Chinese community.” ( K.Das/ SUARAM: ‘The White paper on the October Affair and the Why? Papers’, SUARAM Petaling Jaya 1989: 10)

In the Foreword to ‘May Day for Justice’ written by Tun Salleh & K. Das after the sacking of the Lord President, the Tunku further wrote:

“I do not know how any honourable government can stay in office after this book has been published. It constitutes a denunciation which cannot be answered without confessing to the most dishonourable conduct in public life…it struck a terrible blow, not only to the independence of the Malaysian Judiciary – and ruined the careers of at least three honourable men – but to national pride itself.”

In another Foreword, the Hon Justice Michael Kirby CMG Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had this to say:

“Singled out for particular mention was the concern of the ICJ about the campaign of attacks on the judiciary by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the inducements made to the Lord President to resign his office quietly, the apparently biased constitution of the tribunal set up to enquire into his removal, the inclusion in the tribunal, as its chairman, of a judge who succeeded to the Lord President’s office, the unprecedented action of that judge in securing the removal and suspension of Supreme Court judges who provided a stay to allow the constitutionality of the tribunal to be tested in the Malaysian Supreme Court, and the “unpersuasive” report of the tribunal following which the Lord President was removed.”

The highly respected former Lord President Tun Mohamed Suffian Bin Hashim had this to say on the sordid affair and he pointed his finger squarely at PM Mahathir:

“The disgrace brought to Malaysia by the Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in dismissing the Lord President, Tun Salleh Abas, and two senior Supreme Court judges will long hang round his neck like an albatross. What the PM did astounded the nation and the appalling news was swiftly spread to all four corners of the globe…Tun Salleh has since revealed all the facts leading to, and regarding the so-called inquiry into his alleged misbehaviour. Facts which because of the Prime Minister’s total control of the mass media he was able at the time to keep from public knowledge and which were also kept out of the knowledge of the two foreign members of the Tribunal who came from Sri Lanka and Singapore.” (K. Das, ‘Questionable Conduct over that May day Caper’, 1990)

The Malaysian Bar Council at the time also did not mince their words in a statement:

“From the Prime Minister’s attacks on the Judiciary, it appears that he seriously misconceives the doctrine of the separation of powers…It is not for the Executive to tell the judges how to construe the laws.”

In 1990, when Lim Kit Siang was opposing Mahathir, he had alleged:

“The Prime Minister and the Attorney-General had refused to throw light on this shocking discrepancy, which raised doubts as to whether the Prime Minister ever had an audience with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on 1 May 1988…Grave doubts and mystery surround the judicial crisis of 1988…This clearly shows the parentage and background of the book ‘Judicial Misconduct’ – that it is not an independent assessment but an apologia for the Government assault on the Malaysian Judiciary.” (K. Das, ‘Questionable Conduct over that May Day Caper’, 1990)

There were many other eminent jurists from around the world who were aghast at this flagrant assault on one of the vital institutions of any democracy: Geoffrey Robertson QC; Hugo Young; P.N. Bhagwati, Former Chief Justice of India; Prof. Andrew Harding writing for the Commonwealth Judicial Journal; Bernard Levin of The Times, London; Professor F.A. Trinidade of The Law Quarterly Review; Nihal Jayawickkarama of the University of Hong Kong. All of them were quite clear in pointing their fingers at the Prime Minister of the day for the sacking of Lord President Tun Salleh Abas – Dr Mahathir.

In his book ‘May Day For Justice’, Tun Salleh Abas’ denunciation of then Prime Minister Mahathir begins on the first page itself:

“When all else is forgotten, this question alone may remain to haunt us: Did I lie when I said the Prime Minister of Malaysia accused me of being biased in cases involving the political party, UMNO? Did I invent this story that the prime Minister raised the matter when he gave me the reasons why I was found unsuitable to remain Lord President of the Supreme Court of Malaysia and should therefore step down? That because of my speeches about UMNO I was biased as a judge?

“I have no doubt – and few would now disagree – that it was the UMNO saga that led to my destruction as a judge.”

I urge those who have forgotten or were too young to know the truth about Mahathir’s assault on the Malaysian Judiciary to read the two books by Tun Salleh Abas and K. Das. Try as he may, Mahathir will never succeed in changing Malaysian history as long as there are still good men and women ready to defend the truth, justice, democracy and human rights…


Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 1 Jan 2018

Before I could respond to Mahathir’s supposed apology, he had already “de-apologised”! All the excited crypto-Mahathiristas who had hailed this mother of hollow apologies were quickly left disappointed…

Before his de-apology, Mahathir’s supposed apology was executed in the manner of the ritual ‘maaf, zahir & batin’ that Malays express during Hari Raya Puasa. Anyway, we subsequently heard from the horse’s mouth that his apology was expected of Malay custom and that he was not saying sorry for any mistakes made during his 22-year rule. Any autocrat, any kleptocrat could easily do the same. If Najib does the same ritualistic apology tomorrow without even mentioning 1MDB, will he also be forgiven by the crypto-Mahathiristas?

But the suffering he imposed on individuals, families, communities and Malaysian taxpayers in general is precisely what Malaysians want him to apologise for…

So far, it has only been lawyer Aziz Bari from Pakatan Harapan who has rightly clarified that even if Mahathir apologises, it does not mean that he is absolved from prosecution for past wrongdoings. Indeed, in terms of human rights, democracy and justice, miscreant autocrats and kleptocrats cannot get away with impunity. Impunity means “exemption from punishment or loss or escape from fines”. It refers to the failure to bring perpetrators of human rights violations, rule of law flouters and the corrupt to justice and constitutes a denial of the victims’ right to justice and redress.

Mahathir must prove he is a born-again democrat

Before Mahathir embarks on the GE14 campaign trail, he needs to demonstrate his credibility as a truly ‘born-again’ democrat. Otherwise, the trumpeted reforms he professes in GE14 will have no credibility at all. If he has indeed undergone a democratic transformation rather than merely wanting Najib out so that his son can rise up the political ladder, it is vital that he engages in a process of reconciliation and seeks clarity about the democratic space Malaysians are seeking. Thus,  Mahathir needs to tell us how his thinking has changed from the time he was PM and now and what that means for democracy. First of all, does he even accept that there were terrible violations of human rights and financial scandals during his term in office?

Does he, for example, acknowledge that grave injustices were committed during Operation Lalang? Does he acknowledge that harm was done via the incarceration without trial, of key contributors who served the community in multiple ways? Does he acknowledge the hardships and psychological damage experienced by the detainees’ families? Does he acknowledge that many lives were destroyed even though some robotic politicians treated their detentions as “chilling out” time away from political work?

Does he acknowledge the lasting damage he was responsible for with our democratic institutions, such as the Judiciary, and which affects all Malaysians, to the present day.  Najib has merely inherited Mahathir’s handiwork and then made the concentration of Executive powers even more fool proof!

If these PH politicians know anything about accountability and justice, they will know that the Malaysian people still want to ensure that former politicians get their just desserts and repay their dues to the rakyat. Is Mahathir willing to come to the table and be held to account?

Apologise to the many, not the few!

Let us not forget that some of our elite did rather well under Mahathir – some got favoured contracts including legal contracts, others gained from Mahathir’s privatisation policies in all areas including private higher education; politicians who were not physically tortured under Operation Lalang actually earned a badge of honour from their ISA detention which boosted their political careers. They might even want to thank Mahathir for his reign. As one of these PH leaders has recently confessed to being a crypto-Mahathirista while condemning Mahathir for decades: “Under Mahathir, we could hold our heads high, now under Najib…”

No, Mahathir may not owe these elite any apologies. He owes an apology not only to all the victims of Operation Lalang but also to the former Lord President and the Supreme Court judges that he sacked in 1988 and to the Malaysian rakyat for all the financial scandals since the seventies and eighties that have cost the rakyat billions of ringgit! Mahathir can be seen as the Father of Crony Capitalism in Malaysia. According to the social scientist Barry Wain, Mahathir squandered close to RM100 billion during his reign as Prime Minister. The leader of the Opposition knows of these scandals more than anyone else in this country – during the Eighties, he called Mahathir’s privatisation of our national assets, “piratisation”!

This is not to mention the billions lost through the Proton fiasco and its costs to the environment and the failure of a public transport system in the country. And don’t forget the RM5 billion arms deal that Mahathir signed with Margaret Thatcher in 1988 also led to allegations of “commissions” paid to UMNO which led to the “Arms for Aid” and “Buy British Last” furore in 1994.

Actually, if I had to say what was the worst thing that Mahathir did during his term in office, I would say it was the forced displacement of 10,000 indigenous peoples from 15 different ethnic communities from their Bakun ancestral lands. It was a wicked thing to do at a time when the Bakun dam project had been suspended as a result of the financial crisis in 1998. Then there were the hundreds of plantation communities and urban settlers displaced through Mahathir’s privatisation policies. These have been thoroughly documented through the years in SUARAM’s publications including our annual Human Rights Reports.

GE14 is about real reforms, not opportunism

Opportunism in its crudest form can be seen when politicians target an individual and not the political regime and political economic system that oppresses, divides and exploits the people. This so-called “Save Malaysia” campaign to only expel Najib but maintain rule of the same racist and exploitative dominant party is nothing short of pure opportunism. Does Mahathir’s “Pribumi” party intend to cleanse Malaysia from the racism and racial discrimination that we have suffered from since 1971?

Reforms that do not target the neoliberal economic policies that were set in fast motion by Mahathir in the early Eighties are not serious reforms. Taxes on the rakyat will continue and income disparities will continue to widen while the working class will continue to bear the burden of so-called development.

Najib has merely made more extreme the structures created by Mahathir to entrench the powers of the Executive, emasculate the democratic institutions and provide the means for private enrichment of the elite in this country. Mahathir’s legacy lives on in the racist and racial discriminatory policies that were entrenched during the early Eighties and further strengthened by Najib until today.