My debate transcript — Lim Guan Eng
FEB 23 — First of all, I would like to thank the organisers for this live televised debate. Televised debates mark a new chapter in Malaysian political democracy because it is an important element in the democratisation process. I hope that from today onwards, televised debates will be a common phenomenon in the Malaysian democratic system just like in Europe and the United States.
Thus, I believe what Malaysians really want to see is a debate between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, to see who really deserves to be prime minister. Whoever isn’t brave enough to debate, don’t hope to think of becoming prime minister.
Chua Soi Lek suggested that DAP is being used by PAS. If we observe Umno amongst the Malays, Umno claims that PAS is being used by DAP. Therefore, I believe this self-contradictory statement is a dirty tactic employed by BN. I wish to stress here that Pakatan Rakyat component parties, be it PAS, PKR or DAP, we never use each other. We are only prepared to be “used” by the people! At the same time, we are also not anti-Malay or even anti-non-Malay; we are merely against a government that is riddled with corruption!
I feel that today’s theme, “Is A Two-Party System Becoming a Two-Race System?”, is quite strange. Because, there already exists a two-race system at the present moment, and we want to change it into a two-party system. This two-race system, which is BN’s long-held ideology since independence until now, has BN dividing the people into Malays and non-Malays, this is a “divide-and-rule” strategy. The Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said, “I am a Malay first, then only a Malaysian.” Is this 1 Malaysia or is this Bluff (Tipu) Malaysia? This is indeed a two-race system.
On the other hand, a two-party system is premised on ideology, ideals and principles, without racial discrimination because we are all Malaysians.
In BN, Umno only takes care of the Malays, MCA only takes care of the Chinese, MIC only takes care of the Indians, Gerakan... I don’t know takes care of who???.... That’s BN with their “you take care of your race, I take care of my race”. That is a two-race system! Conversely, in a two-party system, we are all brothers and sisters, we take care of each other; every Malaysian is part of one big family!
Umno always proclaims “Malay Supremacy”. Does the MCA not see this, hear this or feel this, and thus are not brave enough to stand up to them? Hence, we still hear that the Chinese are immigrants (pendatang) and do not deserve equal rights.
PR is different from BN. We don’t want “Malay Supremacy”, what we want is “Rakyat (People) Supremacy”! Anwar not only speaks about “Rakyat Supremacy” in front of non-Malays, but he also says the same thing to the Malays. Will Umno leaders dare to stop proclaiming “Malay Supremacy” and instead support “Rakyat Supremacy”.
When the people or PR leaders expose abuse of power or corruption and question the police or the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, we are accused of challenging the Malay institutions — this is a two-race system, because corruption does not discriminate against the colour of one’s skin. The late Ahmad Sarbaini, the Customs officer who lost his life, is he not a human being?
Pakatan Rakyat wants to abolish corruption, BN wants corruption. PR wants to ensure leaders who are honest and a government that is clean, including public declaration of assets of government leaders, open tenders, now this is a two-party system! Most importantly, the real corrupt officers must be caught, and not slandering the poor innocent Teoh Beng Hock.
My opponent always says: “Other races become government, Chinese become opposition”. This is totally wrong. In truth, “BN MCA becomes opposition, PR DAP becomes government” is what worries MCA. Not only does the Chinese support PR to bring change, the Malays do so as well, if not PR would not have been able to gain 40 per cent Malay support and the political tsunami would not have happened. Without the political tsunami I believe I would not have the opportunity to stand here as the chief minister of Penang and Chua would not have the chance to become the president of the MCA.
In a democratic system, a two-party system requires alternating governments. Let the BN fall and become the opposition, let PR rise to become the government. If PR does not rule well, then the people have the right to change again after five years. This is a two-party system, with alternating parties ruling, only then will the people have a better life.
Question from the moderator:
The Chinese community have welcomed a two-party system since 1980. If we refer to the 2008 results, the amount of votes given to BN and PR are about the same. This shows that half the people are happy with BN while the other half harbour hopes for PR. Does this mean that both parties have achieved a two-party system? How would your party seek to win the other half?
Answer from LGE:
If PR is given the chance to rule, our policy will bring benefits to the people. Today, inflation is rising, our income is not enough to make ends meet. We want to reduce the people’s burden. If we become government, we will abolish the North-South Expressway and the Penang Bridge tolls. We will also increase oil royalties from five per cent to 20 per cent for Sabah and Sarawak.
I know, since Penang gave RM100 to senior citizens every year, BN has copied. Not only BN has copied, MCA too has copied. So, besides thanking Chua, they (MCA members) should also thank the Penang state government. If we take power at the federal level, we wish to inform all 2.1 million senior citizens in the country that we promise to give RM1,000 every year. These are the benefits of alternating governments. They are judged on their policies. We want to become a policy state not a police state.
Answers for the Q&A session:
LGE: Was that Perak exco Ma Han Soon? I think we all know that when PR was the government in Perak, it was PR which started the initiative to grant land to schools and permanent land titles to new village residents and the poor. However, since BN became government, this has been abolished. Because of that, I feel that you have no right to question anyone.
On the question of the Penang state government making empty promises, I wish to stress that we have fulfilled all our election promises. On why the Sungai Nyior toll has not been abolished, we must remember that this is under the power of the federal government. We have not taken over the federal government, so be patient.... When we have taken over the federal government, of course we will abolish it, as well as the North-South Expressway and the Penang Bridge tolls. However, even though we have not abolished the Sungai Nyior toll, we have built a road to bypass the toll plaza, so it is the same, no need to pay toll.
The success of Penang, I believe, has been proven. After March 2008, everyone can see, touch and feel the changes that have happened. In Peninsular Malaysia, the first dual lingual road signs in Chinese were erected in Penang. The first Tamil road signs in Malaysia are also in Penang. For the first time in Penang, we also have road signs in Arabic, all due to the success of the PR government. Penang’s success in combating corruption is also notable, resulting in praise from Transparency International. If there are people who are guilty, we will not let them get off scot-free, and the fact the Penang has zero corruption has been recognised by an international organisation. When we say we don’t take money, we don’t take money. Thank you.
Questions to each other:
CSL: We hear populist policies, giving RM100, abolish this, abolish that... Can you, on this stage, tell us what is the community development and economic model of Pakatan Rakyat so that Malaysia can escape the low-income trap and achieve high-income status, including implementing the promises in the Buku Jingga?
LGE: I believe this is the difference between myself and Chua. He is not anxiously concerned about corruption, while I am very anxiously concerned about corruption. We need to have a framework for administrating the country’s affairs. What is the plan to bring economic development? I wish to use the Penang model as an example.
This is the result of the Penang Pakatan Rakyat state government’s practice of “money makes money”. This system stresses four key aspects. First, “money raise money” through co-operation between the private and public sectors (Public Private Partnerships) in executing development projects. Secondly is “money earns money” through an open tender system, the state government can cut costs. Third is “money creates money” through innovation and creativity. Finally, “money saves money”. If we don’t take money, for sure there will always be money to be saved.
Therefore, the Penang state government has enjoyed a budget surplus every year for four years, and is able to give back to the people through our Senior Citizens Programme with RM 100 every year, and RM1,000 one-off to beneficiaries of senior citizens who pass away. Even newborn babies get RM200 under our Golden Child Programme. When Barisan Nasional was ruling Penang, not a single sen was given, but with the principle of “money makes money”, we have given benefits to the people of Penang, and this is actually an anti-corruption dividend!
In addition to that, in Malaysia, I believe that if we abolish corruption, we will be able to save a lot of money and give back to the people. This is our promise, Penang is the best proof! If we dare to fight corruption, we will definitely have money. Thank you.
Answers to the Q&A and Conclusion, LGE:
First of all, I would like to rebut certain accusations that the Penang state government has not given land to Chinese schools. I feel this is not only lying to yourself but also lying to others. This is because we have proof, even the schools can verify that the Pakatan Rakyat government has given land. Don’t forget, the Pakatan Rakyat state government has now institutionalised allocations to all school streams, not just Chinese schools, also Tamil schools, Sekolah Agama Rakyat or religious schools and private Chinese schools. Before, there was nothing, and now they receive yearly allocations.
Here, I would like to make a plea to all Malaysians. Be brave enough to change, we must not surrender our destiny to fate. We deserve equal opportunities. No longer must we kneel down and beg. We must boldly rise up with dignity to seek change! We do not want to be lied to anymore, change now! Look, the MCA president too has changed, for the first time he is debating with the Rocket. But this debate is not as important as whether MCA dares to say “No” to Umno?
Why say “No” to Umno? Because Umno uses racial and religious sentiments, including supporting Perkasa to inflame and divide the people! Secondly, Umno abuses laws that impinge upon human rights. Umno condones corruption, Shahrizat’s case with the cows is only the tip of the iceberg. Even more serious, in the last 10 years, RM1 trillion of illicit funds (corruption money) has been illegally taken out of the country. How do we account for this? This is why we want a two-party system.
As what the former MCA president Ong Tee Keat described MCA’s co-operation with Umno. He said, “Before at least MCA could eat the leftovers dishes on the table, but now the best they can hope for are the breadcrumbs.”
Many Malays have not enjoyed the fruits of development of this country. They don’t get RM250 million to raise cows, because most of the “good fruits” have been eaten by BN cronies, leaving to the people only the “dead” fruits.
The problems faced by the Chinese community, I believe, everyone knows there are many problems. Besides the problem of the private school certificates (UEC) not being recognised, Chinese schools do not get enough allocation funds, teachers who are not proficient in Chinese are sent to Chinese schools, there are also problems with temporary teachers that have not been resolved. But issues of unequal access to the economy and jobs, I believe are not only faced by the Chinese, but also by other races. That is why we have to take this chance to work together with the other races to bring about change.
What we stress now is about the future of our children. The future of my generation has already been robbed by BN for 50 years, don’t let our children’s future be robbed as well. Therefore, we are awaiting the chance to change.
This morning before I came, I told my daughter that if given the chance, I would like to be the voice of her generation. I hope to provide policies that will enable you to live here and not to migrate. We must give importance to talent. Remember, only by appreciating, emphasising and choosing talent can the future of Malaysia be bright and prosperous.
Look at South Korea, in 1970, their average per capita income was only US$260 in 1970 Malaysia was better, we had US$380 then. However, South Korea has now surpassed Malaysia. Now, our average income is US$7,760 while South Korea has reached US$20,000! Why has South Korea become a high-income nation while Malaysia has failed? The main factor is that South Korea is a democratic country, practices a two-party system, has an alternating change of government. Therefore, if we want to change, if we want Malaysia to become a high-income nation, we must be brave to rise up for change, we must be brave to realise a two-party system. This path is not easy, but I wish to remind everyone, our co-operation with PAS, PKR is based on a written manifesto. It has been announced in public, PAS has their ideology, DAP has our ideology, but don’t forget, PAS has never caused the death of a single Chinese. Let us be strong, will ourselves to change. Even though the path may be difficult, but for the sake of our younger generation, we must complete this journey of change!
* Lim Guan Eng is the Penang chief minister and DAP secretary-general
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.