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Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 18th June 2011: 

BN making fatal mistake if it starts new Sarawak State Assembly on wrong footing

The Barisan Nasional will be making a fatal political mistake if the new Sarawak State Assembly starts off next week on a wrong footing with a high-handed Barisan Nasional strategy to muzzle Pakatan Rakat representatives and to punish Dayaks for their Native Customary Rights (NCR) struggle.

Reports yesterday about the opening session of the 10th Sarawak State Assembly beginning on Monday are disturbing for if true, they point to an intransigent Sarawak state government which refuses to acknowledge the wind of change blowing hard and strong in the state and the aspirations of Sarawakians for accountability, transparency, integrity and good governance.

There is for instance yesterday’s report in Free Malaysia Today entitled “Behave or face consequence, opposition reps warned”, where strong language was used, for instance, quoting second Finance Minister Datuk Wong Soon Koh as warning that the BN has 55 while the Opposition only 16 State Assembly members when uttering the threat: “We know how to deal with them”.

Sarawakians and Malaysians will remember that it was Wong who was responsible in the last State Assembly in orchestrating the suspension of more than half of the previous batch of eight opposition state assembly members on the most arbitrary and even the flimsiest of grounds.

Is Wong preparing to do the same again, to spearhead the abuse of the Barisan Nasional majority in the State Assembly with its 55-strong membership to suspend or expel PR State Assembly members, setting a new record not only in Sarawak but also in Malaysia in the total number of elected representatives to be driven out of the august chamber?

If so, Wong can only blame himself if Sarawakians and Malaysians blame him and attribute such unparliamentary actions to two factors – firstly, to serve only one man, the Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud (who re-appointed him as State Minister despite opposition of the SUPP leadership) rather than the people of Sarawak; and secondly, to avenge the SUPP general election rout in the “416” Sarawak state general elections by abusing the BN majority in the Assembly to drive out DAP State Assembly men and women from the State Assembly.

There is the second report yesterday by Malaysiakini entitled “Opposition to table motion on Taib’s alleged graft”, which seemed to indicate that the motion by the Sarawak Opposition Leader, Wong Ho Leng, that Taib go on leave of absence as Sarawak Chief Minister until cleared by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of serious allegations of “grand corruption” might be disallowed not on its substantive merits but by technical or procedural foul-play.

Will the Barisan Nasional State Government insist on abusing its assembly majority to maintain the façade that serious allegations of grand corruption against Taib simply do not exist and are not allowed to be mentioned let alone questioned and made the subject of debates – when outside the State Assembly in Sarawak, the entire country and the whole wide world these serious allegations about Taib’s “grand corruption” are creating waves?

This will only further undermine state, national and international confidence in the political status quo whether in Sarawak or Malaysia – for the message will then be very clear that only a root-and-branch political change can transform and save Sarawak and Malaysia.

The third report about the forthcoming new Sarawak state assembly is equally disturbing, reported by Malaysiakini as “Sarawak gov’t strikes back at NCR landowners”.

The Land Development Minister James Masing is tabling the Land Custody and Development Authority (Amendment) Bill 2011, which seeks to plug the loopholes in the LCDA (pilloried by the Dayak community as “Let’s Chase Dayak Away”) to nullify the historic NCR victory of the Dayak community in the Pantu land case in February this year.

James Masing and the Sarawak BN state government should be mindful that in the recent Sarawak state general election, there was a 7.2 per cent swing of the Dayak voters against the Barisan Nasional, which will turn into a tide if the hard-won gains by the Dayak community in the NCR struggle in the courts are to be wiped out with a majority show of hands by Barisan Nasional State Assembly members in Petra Jaya on unacceptable amendments to NCR legislation.

Because of its highly sensitive nature and far-reaching consequences, James Masing should not proceed with tabling the LCDA Amendment Bill and instead initiate the fullest public discussion and consultation particularly with the Dayak community on the proper state response not only to the landmark Pantu land case but the whole gamut of the NCR issue.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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