OMG! This sketch is sooo farnie! Especially the "murtabak" part bwahaaahaha!
LIM GUAN ENG burst onto the political scene in the 1986 general election in Kota Melaka when he was elected as the then youngest Member of Parliament (MP) at 25 years of age, defeating former national football captain Datuk Soh Chin Aun with a whopping 18,000-vote majority.
He also happens to be the eldest son of Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, a genealogical heritage that has attracted both interest and flak.
Detained twice by the authorities, first for an 18-month spell in the Kamunting Detention Camp in 1987 under the Internal Security Act (ISA) and secondly for another 18 months in 1998 under the Sedition Act and Printing Presses and Publications Act.
He was imprisoned for circulating documents over an alleged rape of a young Malay girl by a politician which the court found to be false allegations.
Unless he gets a Royal pardon, Guan Eng cannot practise as an accountant. He can, however, revive his political career on Aug 25, five years to the day after his release from Kajang prison.
Steadfast in his political conviction, he chats with NG KEE SENG.
theSun: What are your thoughts on your "exile" and the prospects of being active in politics again?
The so-called "exile" was a ban on all political activity and removal of parliamentary rights for five years effective from the date of my release from imprisonment.
At a personal level, it was tough for my family and me, especially financially. But as said by King Solomon in Ecclesiastics, "Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for sorrow and the time for joy; He sets the time for finding and the time for losing; He sets the time for silence and the time for talk ... We should be happy and do the best we can."
During this so-called exile, I saw human nature at both its extremes, but I never faltered from my belief in the political process. I tried to be happy and did the best I can.
One has to participate and be actively involved to bring about positive changes. That we by our involvement can and do make a difference, that the lives we touch are better because of us.
Even though I am no longer a wakil rakyat (MP) and barred from any office, I am still active in community work in the name of my party, making my small difference for the better of the community in Malacca.
In that respect, does my voluntary work make me a political activist? So, to say that I am in "exile" may not be accurate but perhaps I no longer need to bother you with so many political statements.
Will you be just as vocal in championing freedom of speech?
The antitheses of freedom of speech are the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act. I believe I was wrongly convicted under both oppressive laws.
Even when I was imprisoned, I was not deterred from speaking for what I believe is right, so freedom shall definitely not restrain me from speaking up for justice, human rights and democracy.
How has the imprisonment affected your political principles and struggles for Malaysians and their country?
The imprisonment has made me more determined. We are always asked whether our rhetoric is matched by action, if we can "walk the talk".
Well, I have walked the talk and after going through such tough times without giving them an inch, the BN politicos know whether I still hold fast to my principles.
I have paid a severe price for maintaining my beliefs. My family has suffered even more. But was it too much to ask for some honesty in our system?
Divorced from ethics and integrity, leadership is reduced to management and politics to mere technique. Ethics, honesty and integrity are the corner stones to any successful, prosperous and equitable nation.
But this is not my personal struggle. This is part of a larger struggle for the political soul and morality of our country. There must be moral outrage against corruption and political immorality.
Too much is coloured by race and religion until good values and practices are secondary. If we do not instil moral values in our political system, wipe out corruption, uphold democracy and impose accountability, exercise compassion, our country would not be a place where decent Malaysians can be proud of.
If you are confronted with an identical political problem or issue which got you into prison, how will you respond or treat it today?
Fundamental issues of justice, truth and democracy cannot be compromised. The substance at its core is immutable but the handling or style of dealing with it can perhaps take into account prevailing sensitivities.
There is too much political cynicism which is understandable when you find some Umno leaders waxing eloquently against money politics when they have been previously associated with it.
Umno encourages such cynicism because it works for them. The challenge is to let the people see there are still Malaysians out there who still see political office as a noble calling for public service and not merely degrading self-enrichment.
What are the issues that continue to remain close to your heart?
Justice. Political justice. Socio-economic justice. Cultural justice. Employment and educational justice. There must not only be equality before the law but also equal opportunity for all Malaysians. Justice for Anwar, Ah Beng, Ali, Raja, Juggah, Kitingan. Justice for all. Even for the policeman.
Why should the government set up a special police squad to protect the VIPs from violent crimes? Are the VIPs so special that they cannot be robbed and so require special protection whilst lesser and poorer mortals like us do not deserve special protection and are left in the hands of the ordinary police? Do VIPs give special payments to the police? Such double-standards must be hard to imitate.
As an eight-year-old child, I could never understand why a good man like my father has to be locked up by the police (detained under the ISA in 1969). Forty years later, I still cannot comprehend why in Malaysia, good men go to prison whereas the bad ones don't.
What crimes have DAP leaders committed? We don't steal, rob or cheat. We only speak the truth and yet we go to prison. Or is the truth a dangerous crime in Malaysia?
Equal opportunity is necessary for globalisation. By not granting equal opportunity, we are not only denying worthwhile Malaysians the right of realising their full potential, we are also depriving our country of local talents to help develop our economy.
The 128 top STPM students is a case in point. Which country in the world would deny top students a place in the medical profession, especially when there is a severe shortage of doctors?
How do you cope with the flak that you have been receiving from within and outside the DAP for being the son of parliamentary Opposition Leader and party icon Lim Kit Siang?
I am proud of my father's achievements and his selfless sacrifice, compassion and service for the nation. But my detractors need not fear for I am no Lim Kit Siang. There can be only one Lim Kit Siang. They threw away the mould after him.
I merely ask to be judged as a person on my own merits. If I do not perform, criticise me. If I falter, pan me. But do not judge me merely on the basis of Kit Siang's son. That's not fair to Lim Kit Siang and definitely not fair to me.
Nobody asked me whether I was Lim Kit Siang's son when they detained me without trial under the ISA. No one asked the same questions when I was imprisoned in Kajang for 18 months, sleeping on a cement floor without beds.
And no one mentioned that I was Kit Siang's son when I was disqualified from Parliament and lost my pension. And neither was this raised when Tan Sri Eric Chia sued me for defamation over my ACA report on the Perwaja scandal.
Do you aspire to become DAP secretary-general while your father is still active in the party?
I joined the DAP because it shared my beliefs and principles, not to aspire for any posts in the party. Unlike BN, holding posts in DAP does not grant you any monetary benefits. In fact, the reverse is quite true.
The DAP today appears to be performing better at federal than state elections? Do you agree?
Yes, I think it's the voters' way of wanting to keep the cake and eat it. They want some development funds yet realise a genuine opposition like the DAP is necessary to keep democracy alive and the government in check.
What are your views of the outcome of the 11th general election?
The Opposition is getting more marginalised. Unless the people wake up and send in more opposition parliamentarians, the word democracy will make a mockery of people's power and empowerment.
Race and religion have regained their dominant role. This has played into the hands of BN which fears an issue-oriented approach by a multi-racial opposition.
With the Barisan Nasional winning nine-tenths of the 219 parliamentary seats (BN 198, Opposition 20 and Independent one), do you think there is any possibility of the Opposition winning the mandate to rule the country?
Politics is the art of the impossible but even that seems pretty far-fetched at the moment in Malaysia. Somehow we must provide the hope that change is still possible with a stronger opposition.
And we do need far-reaching changes to survive in the modern world. Either we move ahead with globalisation, technological progress, economic prosperity shared equally, equal access to information and greater democratic rights or descend into an anarchy of violence whether inspired by American or Islamic terrorism.
The non-Malay populace is shrinking with every passing year. How do you see this affecting politics, especially in the Islamic state issue which is being heatedly debated between Umno and PAS in Parliament?
It will change the nation-building agenda from one of development, justice, equal opportunity to one of religion and oppression by other
This is very unhealthy and to a certain extent it is perpetuated by the ruling party for its own ends. PAS playing this dangerous game on a higher plane of course will intensify it.
What are your visions for the DAP to remain politically relevant?
Malaysians must believe that participating in the political process represents probably the only hope that they can make Malaysia a better place for themselves and their children.
We are disheartened by the rising crime rate where the police seem powerless and helpless. No one is spared from violent crime and yet the police appear so inert.
Yet there is hope. The case of a good samaritan like Rosli who died trying to catch a snatch thief. We need more Malaysians like that. Perhaps more Malaysians who will do the necessary not only for their own "bangsa dan agama" but also other races.
There are three major strands here. One, the need for national unity based on a non-racial and non-religious framework. The idea of nationhood based on the dominance of a particular race and religion is in itself divisive and unsustainable in the long-term.
Tolerance is sometimes just not enough -- there must be respect for different cultural values. The horrors of the fragility of national unity inspired by racial or religious dominance has been shown only too well in the Middle-East and the Balkan states.
Racial or religious parties should not be allowed. There is no necessity to impose it now. Give 10 years as a transitional period. In the long-run, we will all be healthier for it. The ruling parties must take the lead. After all, there will be no change in the status quo as politics is a numbers game and we know who is the majority race.
We must establish multi-racialism and a multi-religious society as a way of life in our society. Politicians should lead the way. Doing something for another race one normally does for one's own. It's not easy but we must start somewhere.
Then not only Malaysians will feel good about themselves but we will also have come of age if we can make people from other countries feel good about us.
The second strand is political and economic accountability. One leads to the other. The ISA is one such law which does not make the government accountable for its actions. That the ACA reports to the prime minister and not Parliament, this definitely does not make economic accountability effective.
There can be no economic accountability without political accountability. Western developed economies have both. Singapore is perhaps the exception with economic accountability but no political accountability.
Yes, in Singapore, you may be rich but you live in "fear" -- see the jokes about Singaporeans' "kiasu" mentality. We may laugh at Singaporeans but save some for our own for unfortunately we do not even have both political and economic accountability.
The third major strand is the need for the institutionalisation of democracy. We have a democracy without a democratic culture. Is going through the motions of electing our leaders once every five years democracy, when the electoral process is not fair and neutral?
And then there is the mockery of unelected local governments. Democracy is supposed to come from the bottom up, from the people. We have lousy local government service because they are all appointed and unaccountable.
No wonder garbage gets uncollected, drains blocked, flash floods, etc. I don't see why we can't have local government elections when even the communist regime of China is experimenting with electing local government leaders.
Are we going to be more backward than China? A united Malaysia based on a multi-racial and multi-religious framework with emphasis on equal opportunity for all, a moral and compassionate value system, respect for political and economic accountability and a healthy democratic culture.
Then, we can not only feel good about ourselves but I am sure even make our neighbours feel good about us.
Guan Eng's wife Betty Chew Gek Cheng, 40 (Kota Laksamana assemblyman and mother to three children aged nine, 12 and 13).
theSun: How do you feel now that your husband is re-entering active politics?
Betty: He always seems destined to serve his country so I try to keep my fears and apprehension in check. But both of us do take counsel of our fears and apprehensions and pray that we have the courage to endure.
The most important thing is that he is by my side and the children's side. Which he has for the last five years, doing all the things husbands and fathers do -- basically being a driver, checking the daily chores are done, being a homemaker for a change.
But he never tires of the deluge of people seeking help from him. I marvel at times at his energy, spending his time doing voluntary work, helping those in need regardless whether they are from Malacca or not, or even when they are foreigners.
I think he is energised by his reward of seeing the hope light up in their eyes. He does that without any monetary support from the party and this does make it hard for us when he should be thinking of putting in something for our growing children's education. But it is his mission and I try to support him where I can.
Do you think he has mellowed after being penalised for helping a teenage girl in distress?
What mellowness? He is ready to help even when he is not a wakil rakyat and not drawing any pension. He has no obligation to do so and yet he still does. Do you think that's mellow? I still think he's the same, with the same discipline, ideals and dedication and affinity for the oppressed.
Will you be taking a back seat now that he is back in active politics?
I was never in the driver's seat, merely doing my work in my own constituency. Unlike my husband, I do not have the energy and time to do more beyond my own constituency with my legal practice and family commitments.
How do you cope with the pressures of politics, legal practice and family?
It has been tough but my husband has fully supported my pursuit of my legal career. He says I make a good homemaker but an even better lawyer.
He feels strongly that women who do not pursue their careers do not only fail to realise their potential but is a loss to society. So he helps out wherever he can in politics, family and even in legal practice.
**********And this news was picked up from malaysiakini earlier today...
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today announced that PKR’s Penanti state assemblyperson Muhammad Fairuz Khairuddin and DAP’s Perai representative P Ramasamy would be made the state’s deputy chief ministers.
Muhammad Fairuz will be the Deputy CM 1 and Ramasamy, the Deputy CM 2.
Lim, who was sworn in yesterday, said the decision to pick the duo was to have a leadership to represent all communities in Penang.
This is the first time an Indian has been awarded such a high post in Malaysia.
The state's executive council will consist of seven members from DAP and three from PKR.
Meanwhile, both speaker and deputy speaker of the state assembly will be from PKR.
The lone PAS state assemblyperson, who has been left out of the DAP-PKR government, has said he will cooperate with the state government.
The DAP-led opposition made a clean sweep in Penang in the last general election, totally wiping out the BN’s hold in the island state."