23 Feb 2010

Koh Tsu Koon Tersentak Keng Yaik Kata Gerakan Tak Akan Mampu Tawan Kembali Pulau Pinang

Anggota Gerakan hendaklah melipatgandakan usaha mereka dan berusaha gigih untuk membuktikan bahawa kenyataan penasihat parti bahawa Gerakan telah kehilangan Pulau Pinang adalah salah, kata Presiden Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Katanya anggota parti hendaklah mengambil kenyataan Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik itu sebagai satu cabaran.

"Saya menasihatkan semua anggota parti untuk menjadikannya satu cabaran, mengambilnya sebagai satu cara bagi melipatgandakan usaha, memberi lebih penekanan terhadap ideologi parti dan menyediakan perkhidmatan yang telus dan ikhlas kepada rakyat tanpa memikirkan balasan, secara jujur menunjukkan kepada rakyat bahawa kita menyediakan perkhidmatan.

"Oleh sebab itu, jika mereka (anggota parti) berasa sedih, saya akan menasihatkan mereka untuk membuktikan Penasihat salah," katanya kepada pemberita ketika diminta mengulas kenyataan Lim dalam satu wawancara dengan The Edge Financial Daily pada 18 Feb, yang dilihat mengecewakan ramai anggota Gerakan.

Koh ditemui pemberita selepas melancarkan persidangan mengenai kejururawatan anjuran International College of Health and Science (ICHS) dan Canterbury Christ Church University, United Kingdom, hari ini.

Koh berkata beliau telah menemui Lim (kanan) mengenai perkara itu dan bekas presiden itu menyatakan beliau "berniat baik dan mahu mengejutkan anggota Gerakan daripada kelenaan".

"Penasihat memberi gambaran terburuk dan beliau gembira jika kami dapat membuktikan bahawa beliau salah. Saya turut memberitahu beliau mengenai perasaan dan sentimen anggota akar umbi di Pulau Pinang yang berusaha bangkit semula daripada tsunami politik yang menyebabkan kita tewas teruk," katanya.

Ditanya sama ada sebarang tindakan akan diambil terhadap Lim, Koh berkata: "Tidak. Ini merupakan sebuah negara bebas dan demokratik. Beliau membuat kenyataan dan beberapa anggota memberikan reaksi. Kami mengambil maklum perkara ini dan biarlah kita teruskanlah perjuangan." -Bernama

In the first part of our interview with Gerakan adviser Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik yesterday, he spoke about the problems plaguing both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalitions. What of his own party?

Lim expressed concern over whether his anointed successor, current Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, can take the party out of its decline.

Although the veteran politician said Koh was the best he had in terms of intellectual capacity and integrity, he feels that Koh is unable to make politically difficult decisions and provide leadership.

He thinks that Gerakan would need to go back to its core ideology based on a multiracial approach before it can pick itself up again.

Lim, who headed Gerakan for 27 years, believes that Gerakan has lost Penang for good.

“Should it (regain Penang)? No! We missed our chance. In cricket, they say you had a good innings and 39 years is a long and good one. What more do we want?” said Lim in his office in Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya recently.

Lim, who was in government from 1972 to 2008, is also pessimistic about efforts to turn the country into a high-income economy.

The basis for a knowledge economy is human resource, he said, and to restructure this, the government would need to change its education policy.

On the controversy over the usage of the “Allah” word, Lim said that both sides of the divide were right and wrong at the same time.

“The issue has been over-politicised and maybe the solution lies with the Council of Rulers,” he added.

This is the second and final part of his interview with Sharon Tan, Cindy Yeap and Chan Kok Leong of The Edge Financial Daily (TEFD).

TEFD: Can Gerakan retake Penang?

LKY: No. (Laughs) Should it? No. You missed your chance. In cricket they said you had a good innings. A long and good innings of 39 years. What more do you want?

TEFD: What does Gerakan need to do to get back Penang? Gerakan is seen as Penang, Penang is Gerakan.

LKY: No more. The long innings is gone. Gerakan has to look after its base which has been lost. It is baseless. It has to revert to its ideological background. And it must play a more prominent part as the influencing partner in future politics to move towards our ideological path.

TEFD: Is Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon the right man for the job?

LKY: What to do? He was the best I had in terms of intellect and integrity. Nobody can fault me. But in terms of politics, he is still struggling. If he is not careful, there will be a quiet revolution within Gerakan.

TEFD: Now there is talk about reallocation of seats in Barisan Nasional (BN).

LKY: More so that we need an ideological approach rather than trying to maintain base lah. Then at least we are part of this ideological move to mature politics on a multiracial basis. Don’t think in terms of numbers or try to still be in government. Get that out of our bloody minds.

We had a good run in 39 years in a place where we used to have a base. So instead of hankering for your base, why don’t you follow your ideological path and choose partners which can fulfil your ideological base? After March 8, politics is going towards an ideological base that is multiracial in approach.

TEFD: Where do you see Gerakan in this? Gerakan is a multiracial party and the conscience of BN.

LKY: We always say that we are too far ahead of ourselves (laughs). That is why I keep saying that there will be a realignment in future.

TEFD: Which party has most to lose in this realignment?

LKY: Even if PAS joins Umno, do you think they can maintain the majority on a pure Malay, racist and Islamic agenda? You think they can? I don’t know.

TEFD: The numbers favour them…

LKY: I don’t think so. I think the young Malays if you get a charismatic multiracial Malay leadership, you may just beat them with a total block of non-Malays on their side.

You can get 60% and this new multiracial Malay leadership will get 40% but with overwhelming non-Malays. I am not saying Chinese and Indians only but with Kadazans and Ibans.

You try lah.

You think they can get 80% with Umno and PAS joining? The more you push, the more likely but there are also people in PAS that don’t think they can do it although Umno wished they would.

It takes a lot. That is why politics is very interesting and challenging in Malaysia. That’s why as a young man of 28 or 29, I got immersed in politics. I could see the challenge.

My thoughts and feelings could make a difference. I intended to make a difference.

But unfortunately 36 years of it makes no difference (laughs). I don’t know. If in my retirement I can still carry on explaining and guiding the people to make the right choice, I feel grateful that I am still alive today.

So in this respect, we need politicians who are more thinkers than those with personal agendas. We need people to think for our complicated society and challenges facing our country to allow the people to become part of this maturing of democratic politics.

TEFD: What is Gerakan’s ideological base now?

LKY: Multiracial, non-racial approach, not only care about Chinese even though your base is Chinese, but all other races.

TEFD: Gerakan used to have a lot of thinkers but…

LKY: Being in the beehive, the bees start to sting our own people until they cannot stand it, they start to leave.

TEFD: Are you advocating that Gerakan should get out of BN?

LKY: There is nothing to get out to. How to get out?

TEFD: Within BN there are no multiracial parties except in Sabah and Sarawak.

LKY: You see lah who is not working with the Ibans and Kadazans.

TEFD: Does Gerakan plan to go to East Malaysia?

LKY: You don’t tell people what you are going to do early. When PBS and Gerakan wanted to do the joint council, (former prime minister Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) saw it and killed it. Killed it!

Will (Tan Sri Abdul) Taib Mahmud stay? He has good control but will it split when he’s not there anymore? That will depend on who provides the leadership for the Ibans. Are they a satisfied lot? I don’t know.

How about in Sabah? Are the Kadazans okay? There is a big difference between (Tan Sri) Bernard Dompok and (Datuk) Joseph Pairin Kitingan. One is too complacent while the other one is still very much a reformist. Maybe (Gerakan) can even play second fiddle to DAP.

TEFD: What do you make of the “Allah” issue?

LKY: (After deep thought) Both sides are right and both sides are wrong. Using constitutional rights and universal rights, the Christians might be right. But in the context of Malaysia, they may be wrong. So both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

The issue has been over-politicised. To me you should let the Council of Rulers decide and take it away from the politics and then we may be able to maintain peace and harmony.

If they decide otherwise then so be it. Even if it is loaded on the Malay and Islam side, let it be. After all they are rulers.

That is the time for the constitutional monarchy to play its part. Take it off politics since it has been politicised. And to take it off from politics, let the rulers decide.

TEFD: You were in the cabinet in 2007 when the issue first came up. How did they get so far? Was it discussed at all?

LKY: Pak Lah (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) with one hand just brushed it off just like that. Bernard (Dompok) reported back to the Catholic church that they cannot do anything. So they went to the court to plead for their constitutional and universal rights.

You have a situation where the Peninsular Malays/Muslims feel bad but those in Sabah and Sarawak don’t feel bad because they are used to it.

In Sabah and Sarawak, they use the Bahasa (Malaysia) version because they are not well-versed in English while in the Peninsula they use English which uses the word God.

The court will rule on constitutional and universal rights but people are not prepared for that. So it’s better to refer back to the constitutional monarch which is the rulers in council.

TEFD: Tun, do you think we are more polarised now than before?

LKY: Yes. The implementation of the New Economic Policy. The rise of religious extremism. And the application of human and universal rights by the non-Malays. And education and facilities in schools and universities which have not been balanced over time.

I use that word because they have enough doctors and accountants and lawyers and yet the quotas still apply.

Opportunities in education and universities have not been balanced over time. This kind of things, you have to rebalance from time to time.

TEFD: Talking about a high-income economy, can we do it?

LKY: This is difficult. If they don’t change the education policy, they cannot achieve high-income economy status. If the education policy doesn’t change with the passage of time, to produce the right human resources for the needs of this country, then we will regress and not progress.

A high-income economy must be based on people, equipped with the best knowledge and retained for the country’s use. Then we may stand a chance. If not, we can talk till the cows come home and we will regress and not progress.

TEFD: So, isn’t the PPSMI reversal a step back for the high-income economy drive?

LKY: In my memorandum to Dr Mahathir, I said that Maths and Science should be taught in their mother tongue in primary schools while English periods should be increased.

And then English should be made the medium of instruction for Maths and Science in secondary schools.

In modern education methods, there are better ways of educating people in languages than what we are currently doing. We can use audio and video to teach languages instead of the rote system. For that, I used to argue with Dong Jiao Zong in 1972 when I was still in MCA and asked them, how much Chinese do you want a Chinese to know?

The East Ender Londoner speaks English which none of us can understand and yet they are Englishmen.

Equip students with enough content in Chinese to enable them to read and write and converse in Mandarin. Or do they want every Chinese to be a literature expert and quote proverbs only Chinese in China understand? If 3,000 words is enough I can’t see how they can’t pump the students with the words within six years.

I’m English educated but can they say that I’m not a Chinese. Those days I couldn’t even speak Mandarin although I’ve picked it up now and can give a two-hour lecture in Mandarin without being able to read Chinese.

They want their mother tongue education, forgetting they are in Malaysia. Undoubtedly, the Chinese Malaysian is very appreciated in the last 20 years in the international circuit.

To those who have been exposed, the Chinese from here are better appreciated than those from other countries like mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Hongkong and Singapore.

Chinese from Singapore are very educated but have their noses in their foreheads. China Chinese are hillbillies although they are very much different today.

Those from Taiwan will eat you up and swallow you lock, stock and barrel. There won’t even be bones coming out.

And the Hongkong Chinese only care for themselves and nobody else.

There is nothing to say about the Indonesian Chinese as they have even lost their names.

To appreciate that, the Chinese in Malaysia, being influenced by other races here, their mannerisms, eating habits and appreciation of multiracial society that makes them what they are, should be confident of that.

People outside the country compliment the Chinese Malaysians for being well mannered, know how to mix with people, caring and don’t impose on people. All these good characteristics come from here.

What’s wrong?

If 3,000 characters are enough to maintain our mother tongue then that should be good enough. And then we can spend more time learning English and Bahasa Malaysia.

There is no doubt that the Malays in this country need help. In any country, it’s the rural people who need the most help. It so happens that the rural people in Malaysia, 90% are Malays. It’s a rural problem and not just a Malay problem. Like Dr Mahathir in The Malay Dilemma says, “You change the environment, you change the race.”

The NEP should help Malays and enlarge the cake to allow others to have a piece of the cake. But you must help the great proportion of Malays who live in the rural areas and change their environment, state of mind and thinking.

What the government has failed to do is help build entrepreneurs from the Malay masses. Although professionally they have built up enough people, there are not enough businessmen. The Chinese entrepreneurs are needed to help.

Instead of being jealous of them because they have the experience and capability, they should make use of them by instituting genuine bumiputera-Chinese joint ventures. Genuine and not Ali Baba style. Incentivised and monitored by the government, by certain departments.

If we can monitor capital and business structure in the country, why can’t we incentivise these local joint ventures for a purpose? That is to build up local entrepreneurship among the Malays.

But those who are not working must be removed without fear or favour, whether they are Umno or not. But it must be monitored by the government so that those who are sleeping, lazy or have their own agenda should be removed and replaced by more genuine ones.

This will stop (Datuk Seri) Anwar (Ibrahim) from saying that we are building Umnoputeras and not bumiputeras. But we have wasted 40 years. The ones who think they can become rich quickly by joining politics should be condemned and kept out of politics and government. You know it but don’t dare say it. I’m saying it now.

In a way, I’m saying that Umno should remove these fellas. There are 50,000 Class F contractors, what for? The famous words are sub, sub, sub, sub. No wonder, our computer labs have only two “tiangs” and one roof and then collapse.

If you appreciate the experience and capability of the Chinese, why can’t we do it? The Malays should be inculcated with the value that you can make money not only through your own people but through others as well. It can be tax-free and exposure to capital when there is a Malay partner. It can be incentivised by the government and monitored.

I always ask, do you need a Malay to help a Malay?

When oil palm went up, it benefited the 75% Malays. 50% of the oil palm is produced by Felda and 25% by PNB corporates.

But I’m a Chinaman who has helped the small Malay stakeholders be it rubber or oil palm planters.

They wanted to subsidise cooking oil when the bulk of it is consumed by Chinese. Want to die ah? Taxing the poor Malay to subsidise the Chinese. They wanted to impose excess profit taxes on oil palm because of envy of KLK, IOI’s profits but they forgot about Golden Hope, Sime Darby and Guthrie and that 50% of the smallholders are from Felda.

I tell you, I give up la talking to this government.

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