Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 5th July 2009:
Is MCA so short of talents they cannot find different persons to hold the posts of MCA Secretary-General and Senate President?
Tomorrow DAP National Vice Chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz will be sworn in as a Senator, the first DAP Senator in the party’s 43-year history.
Tomorrow is also the last day for Tan Sri Dr. Hamid Pawanteh as two terms for six years as Senate President.
He was Deputy Speaker from 1983-1986 and I found him a level-headed, fair and just political leader who could distinguish between right and wrong, what are national interests as distinct from party and personal interests – a rare quality among those who walk the corridors of power in Putrajaya.
Hamid, 65, will be a loss to Malaysian politics as he is retiring from Malaysian politics after 31 years, which have included two terms as Perlis Mentri Besar from 1985 to 1995.
Replacing Hamid as Senate President will be the Deputy Senate President, Datuk Wong Foon Meng, which is a surprise for three reasons:
Firstly, Wong is also MCA Secretary-General and he has announced that he will not relinquish this post.
This is against parliamentary convention and practice that a front-line party official should not be appointed to positions like Speaker of Dewan Rakyat or President of Dewan Negara – which is why the present Speaker, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia resigned his post as divisional Umno Chairman on his appointment as Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Why is Wong flouting this parliamentary convention and practice that the Parliament Speaker or Senate President must not only be fair but seen to be fair by relinquishing all party positions?
Secondly, Wong will be appointed only to serve a mini-term of eight short months from July 7, 2009 as Senate President as he is a second-term Senator whose term expires on 12th April 2010 and there will not be a third reappointment.
Wong will be the shortest-serving Senate President as compared to the two previous MCA Senate Presidents - Tun Omar Ong Yoke Lin who served for more than seven years from 1973 to 1980 and Tan Sri Michael Chen who served for more than two years from 2000.
Hasn’t MCA another nominee who could serve as Senate President for two full terms of six years, such as former MCA Ministers, Dr. Ting Chew Peh or even Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting (although this will mean a by-election in Kulai) or former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng?
Or is the MCA only allowed to “warm the seat” of the Senate President for a brief spell of eight months instead of two full terms of six years before the MCA nominee has to vacate it because of the expiry of his term as Senator and the post of Senate President surrendered to another appointee from another Barisan Nasional component party, may be MIC or Gerakan for another mini-term?
Ong Tee Keat should be more serious about such appointments and should even consider nomination of qualified and eminent Malaysian Chinese who need not be MCA members to be appointed as Senate President
Where does it say in the Constitution that the Senate President must be members of MCA or other Barisan Nasional component parties?
Thirdly, is MCA so short of talents that the MCA President cannot find different persons to hold the posts of MCA Secretary-General and Senate President? Or is the MCA President finding himself more and more isolated in his own political party that he has little trust for other MCA leaders?
Wong also told the press yesterday that MCA does not rule out the possibility of co-operating with DAP to establish a joint secretariat for “intellectual discourse” if the proposal come from the DAP and depending on the topics concerned.
I do not know what Wong is talking about. Is he saying that MCA is prepared to form a joint secretariat with DAP for “intellectual discourse” on anyone of the following subjects which constitute the burning national issues of the day:
Over to you, Wong.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor