Thursday, July 28, 2005

1964 - PAP accused of being "double-tongued" and "double-faced"

Part lll of the retrospective on Singapore's road to independence
Policies differences, personality clashes and power-tripping dogged the PAP's role as the opposition in Malaysia's Parliament. The Merger, celebrated just a year earlier, was resembling more like a marriage of convenience than a union of mutual trust and understanding.

The PAP came in for a series of attacks by Alliance back-benchers in Parliament today for its criticism of the turnover and payroll taxes announced last Wednesday by the Minister of Finance, Mr Tan Siew Sin.

The sharpest attack was delivered by Mr Lee San Choon (All Segamat) who accused the PAP of being two-faced.

He challenged PAP members to state publicly whether they had stood for the "haves" or "have nots."

Dealing with the budget, Inche Wan Abdul Kadir bin Ismail said the Straits Times had been publishing a lot of articles attacking the tax proposals. PAP speakers had also come to the House voicing the same views.

A voice in the Government back-benches was heard to exclaim: "Ban, ban the Straits Times."

Inche wan Abdul Kadir said he disagreed with the views expressed by the Straits Times and the PAP. The tax proposals, he said, were designed for the benefit of the ra'ayat.

If the PAP were champions of the middle-class, as they were now claiming, why did they cut the salaries of civil servants who belonged to the middle-class?

It claimed to champion the cause of the have-nots. But what had it done for the have-nots in Geylang Serai and Kampong Glam? he asked. He accused the PAP of being "double-tongued."

Inche Abdul Samad bin Ahmad (PMIP) stressed that the his party supported the budget. It had pledged to work with the Central Government in meeting confrontation.

He then launched into a strong attack on the PAP, which he described as "of the same colour" as the Barisan Socialis.

He recalled that Mr Lee Kuan Yew had met the "Plen" and asked why the Central Government had not arrested him.

Mr Lee San Choon, political secretary to the Finance Minister, said members of the Alliance were "honest and sincere" and did not have the ability to twist and distort facts like the PAP.

"We are not double-faced and we are unable to talk with different tongues in different places," he said.

"Unlike the PAP, we do not champion the cause of so-called socialism and at the same time advocate free enterprise.

"Unlike the PAP, we do not identify ourselves as leftists and give pioneer status to wholly owned Western capitalist organisations.

"Also, unlike the PAP, we do not attempt to secure support through class struggle."

Then, attacking Mr Lee Kuan Yew, he said the Singapore Premier "enjoys the most expensive millionaire's game - golf - washes down his westernised meals with expensive drinks, travels in expensive cars with 42 bodyguards, and has 21 secretaries to write his irresponsible speeches."

"At the same time," Mr Lee San Choon said, "he champions the so-called have-nots."

He added: "The PAP talks as if there is no confrontation. To them political power is all important. They are more interested in power politics than in serving the country."

Mr Lee recalled the days in 1959 when the PAP frightened away investors. Business fled from Singapore to the Federation and Hong Kong.

"After realising their mistake they declared they were not against capital. They fooled so many people that many people the PAP had changed for the better. Now we know.

"They are still wolves in sheep skin, their heart is the same. They are fighting the Barisan for political power, but ideologically they are the same."

The Finance Minister, Mr Tan Siew Sin, today accused the Singapore Government of using all the machinery at the disposal of the State to inflame "mob passions" against the turnover and payroll taxes.

He said this when introducing the Supply Bill in the Senate. "They have even gone so far as to allow members of the public to speak on Radio Singapore to denounce the tax proposals," he said.

Held responsible

"I should warn the Singapore Government that if this were to happen, they will be held responsible.

"These actions are indeed strange, coming from a Government which calls itself pro-Malaysia but which is doing everything it can do to wreck proposals that are designed to ensure the financial and economical stability of Malaysia in the face of growing commitments for defence and development which we now have to meet if we wish to survive."

1 comment:

Martyn See said...

New book tells how Tunku reacted when LKY got him to sign verbal agreement

The Straits Times
July 28, 2005

By Zakir Hussain

MR LEE Kuan Yew once made Tunku Abdul Rahman sign some of the terms for Singapore's merger with Malaya on an envelope.

He felt compelled to do it because the late Malaysian PM's 'memory was elastic', he wrote in his memoirs.

But the Tunku felt 'demeaned' by it, claims the author of a new book on the events that led to Singapore's merger with Malaya and eventual separation.

The book, titled Ousted, is by Mr Patrick Keith, a former aide of the Tunku. It is based on his notes and diaries. Mr Keith was deputy director of external information in the Information Department between 1963 and 1968 in Malaysia.

The retired journalist told The Straits Times from his home in Melbourne that he had held himself back until the key actors had left the scene and had written their own accounts.

Ousted hit bookshops here last weekend. The 200-page paperback's three sections each retells the period through the eyes of Malaysia's first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, Singapore's then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and then-Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Tan Siew Sin.

Mr Keith's account mirrors those recounted in the late Tunku's book Looking Back and in the first part of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs, The Singapore Story. But it throws up telling details and includes vivid anecdotes from his copious notes.

One such episode is described as 'The Envelope Affair', which took place in the Tunku's Ritz Hotel suite in London in July 1963, prior to Singapore signing an agreement on final terms for merger with Malaya.

The Tunku had verbally accepted a number of conditions which had been the subject of earlier wrangling between himself and Mr Lee.

These included guarantees that 50 per cent of the workforce for development projects in Sabah and Sarawak would come from Singapore, and that the Singapore government would have powers to detain secret society gangsters.

Mr Lee wanted these in writing, however, and explained in his memoirs: 'Since the Tunku's memory was elastic, I scribbled these points on the back of a used envelope... and got him to sign it.'

For the first time, the Tunku's view of this episode is made known in Mr Keith's book. 'He said he was filled with disgust. What sort of a man was this who would refuse to accept his word and insist on getting his signature? No one had ever demeaned him in this manner before,' the author writes.

This, Mr Keith narrates, 'would forever be remembered as the first instance that really earned him (Mr Lee) the Tunku's personal disaffection'.

One significant mention in the book is Mr Keith's own assessment that extremist Malays or the ultras, were responsible for the racial incitement that led to the race riots here in July 1964.

He writes of how their continuing vitriolic campaign against Mr Lee in the Utusan Melayu newspaper aimed to 'force him to make statements which they, in turn, could manipulate and declare to be against the wider interests of Malaysia'.

The story of Malaysia and Singapore, Mr Keith believes, is not over yet.

'Maybe in 10 years, there'll be a more equal society (in Malaysia) and then everything Lee Kuan Yew said (about a Malaysian Malaysia) will come true,' said Mr Keith who migrated to Australia in 1968 because he felt disillusioned with Malaysia's racial politics.

* Mr Lee was a strong proponent of merger

'The Tunku never forgot that Lee Kuan Yew had been a most persistent and persuasive advocate of the proposal for the merger between Malaya and Singapore. 'Lee never let up,' the Tunku would recall many years after the ouster of Singapore from the Federation in 1965. 'He was in my sitting room, my dining room and even my bedroom, morning, noon and night. He wouldn't let me sleep until I agreed to the merger.'

* Malaysian parliamentarians grew hostile when Mr Lee challenged their leaders

'At first, Umno politicians had listened to him (Mr Lee in the Malaysian parliament) in amazement. Never before had they seen such a display of power and skill with words... Soon the same leaders grew suspicious of a man who could attack one of them with such finesse and incisiveness, and hold them fascinated. A deep hostility began to rise among the Umno line-up and they met Lee's sharp logic with impatience and anger.'

* Mr Lee saw extremists in Umno, led by secretary-general Syed Jaafar Albar, as being responsible for the 1964 race riots in Singapore.
Malaysian leaders had a different view.

'The riots were hardly over when Tan (Siew Sin, then-Malaysian Chinese Association president) learnt Lee was blaming Albar for them. Tan readily rushed to the Umno secretary-general's defence. He had the MCA issue a statement saying Albar had never been anti-Chinese. The statement read: 'In fact he is a champion of communal harmony.'