First of all, let me thank all of you present today. Thank you for remaining steadfast with the party. In my Bahasa Malaysia speech, I have expressed my greatest appreciation to members of the Barisan Nasional component parties, our party’s central leaderships, fellow comrades at the grassroots level, party staff and all volunteers who have worked tirelessly round-the-clock during the entire the Tanjung Piai by-election that led to an overwhelming victory for BN and MCA. This victory would be impossible without all your support. Thank you!
We should not forget to acknowledge the support and assistance brought by PAS during the by-election. Although we subscribe to different political ideology and viewpoints in some areas, on the basis of the spirit enshrined in the Federal Constitution, we were able to combine our strength as the opposition to be the check and balance of the government. We believe that this would bring more diverse values and propositions to the opposition in the name of positive political development to the country.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all voters of Tanjung Piai again. Thank you for giving us a chance to serve you.
I can assure you that Dr. Wee Jeck Seng will be a Parliamentarian for all races. He will strive his best for you in voicing your grievances and needs as your wakil rakyat.
We can be excited but we cannot let our guard down. We can take it as a boost to our morale but we cannot afford to be arrogant and complacent from this victory.
From the announcement of the candidate to using different strategies to fight this battle to achieving a landslide victory, we have shown the most important value and principle in the Tanjung Piai by-election, which is the Spirit of Barisan Nasional.
BN component parties' members work and support each other with unity. The Barisan Nasional collaboration model that showcased the values of moderation, pluralism and inclusiveness of Barisan Nasional, has enabled us to garner support from the Rakyat of all ethnic groups.
The victory of this by-election had once again proven that the values of moderation, pluralism and inclusiveness are the right way for a multiracial Malaysia. MCA must ensure that Barisan Nasional will continue to move on in this right track, without swaying and making any U-turns. We must march ahead in this direction, only then will Barisan Nasional be able to return to power in the next general election.
Prior to the nomination day, there were many different views on the choice of candidate. Many quarters, especially those from DAP, had said that the candidate from MCA would not be chosen. However, the eventual result shows that the BN spirit could withstand any test and pressure. We were able to consider the big picture and to make sensible decision that was satisfactory to all parties.
In this by-election, we did not have the resources and advantages of incumbency. In fact, we faced a ruling party that had gone against their past position. They made great use of the resources and power of a sitting government, announcing projects and allocations up to RM 40 million.
What's worse was that Pakatan Harapan fanned up racial issues during the by-election, including distributing leaflets calling on Muslims to vote for the Muslim candidate only, and then trying to plant loot for BN. The component parties of Barisan Nasional, together with other friendly parties, stood firm in our moderate and plural path in the face of such dirt thrown at us by Pakatan Harapan. We had refused to out-racialise them. Instead, we continue to stress on moderation and multiculturalism stance and our sincerity in serving the people to win the support of the voters.
From the by-elections held since the May 9th General Election, from Cameron Highlands to Semenyih, Rantau to Tanjung Piai, we are able to see that the winning formula for Barisan Nasional is to be the champion of all people. MCA must stress that the BN spirit does not only serve one particular ethnic group, but to fight for the interests of all people.
When UMNO and PAS announced their cooperation and signed the "National Consensus Charter", it caused a lot of attention. MCA had clearly expressed our position prior to the cooperation between the two parties and the signing of the Charter. We insist that in cooperating with other parties, the consensus decision-making process of BN and pluralistic values must be upheld, as well as the spirit of our Federal Constitution, must be respected.
The "National Consensus Charter" indeed covers some of the important elements that we uphold, in line with universal values and the constitutional framework of the country. It respects pluralism, and the spirit enshrined in the Federal Constitution. This is the direction that we must follow. As one of the three major parties of Barisan Nasional, MCA is duty-bound to uphold the moderate and pluralism of Barisan Nasional and to ensure that the country's existing constitutional governance system is not threatened.
Dear comrades, let's take a look at the political situation of the country today. It is full of uncertainties, and various intrigues that are simply breathtaking, have been happening. In particular, the matter relating to succession of the premiership has been subject to changes. The 4 component parties of Pakatan Harapan have their infighting. What is even more puzzling is that two ministers who were obviously attending the same Cabinet meeting can come out with different statements.
However, no matter how the situation changes and whenever the next general election, the most important thing is that we must always be ready to face the electorate.
Political challenges and voters' demands on politicians are getting more complex day by day. This is especially true of young and first time voters. They will not only judge politicians based on face-to-face contact, but also the politicians' opinions and their views on various national issues, including their performance on social media.
Therefore, I would like to state here that any comrade who has the willingness to stand as a candidate in the next general election will have to fulfill much stricter conditions, including being trilingual and have the ability to state his views clearly, whether in Parliament, on the street, or on TV. He must also have good service attitude and be approachable.
The next general election will be an extremely hard fought one. Every vote matters. If we remain unchanged, we will only be eliminated by the torrent of the times.
Dear comrades, the Tanjung Piai by-election also conveyed a very important message that voters nowadays dare to change. We should no longer regard the votes of any ethnic group as the fixed deposit of a certain political party.
We should not take the support of the voters for granted. After the change of government on May 9, voters are bold enough to switch sides and I believe this will be the norm among all voters. There is no such thing as safe deposit votes; they may support you this time but it does not mean they will support you in the next. The next general election may see one with the largest number of fence sitter voters.
As the opposition, we cannot rely on the fact that the people are dissatisfied with the current government. We must turn these grievances into votes that support us. While conducting checks and balances on the government, we must also put forward our political viewpoints, especially proposals on national reforms and actively participating in the debate on governmental policies and issues affecting the nation by offering an alternative to the people. Providing a solution to people's grievances is among the most effective way of persuading fence sitter voters as this category will make up the majority of voters in the next general election.
At this important function, I have no choice but to talk about the TAR UC issue that is being hotly debated. Lim Guan Eng has been misusing his power as the Finance Minister to suppress TAR UC and MCA, but we will not compromise.
In fact, we were suppressed for more than a year in the TARUC matter. The government had tried every means to annihilate MCA. Everyone knows that MCA founded TARUC, but MCA never considered TARUC its private property.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng keeps saying that the TAR UC Board of Trustees goes against the law. I must reveal some inside stories here today for everyone to judge.
On November 2, last year, Lim Guan Eng tabled the 2019 Budget. It was the first time TAR UC was not allocated any budget for administrative expenditure (matching grant) but it was only given RM5.5mil development allocation. As the only Chinese opposition MP then, I was the first to voice my protest in Parliament. As a result, Lim Guan Eng was furious.
Not only did he not provide allocation for administrative expenditure (matching grant), he also warned TAR UC not to increase its tuition fees. At the same time, he also set the condition to separate education from politics by demanding that MCA relinquishes its control on TAR UC before it is given allocation for administrative expenditure (matching grant). TARCian Alumni Association (TAA) was the first to voice its support for Lim Guan Eng. Since then there had been no peace.
On 19th December 2018, TARC Education Foundation received a letter from the Companies Commission of Malaysia stating that there had been a complaint that the TAR UC Board of Trustees does not comply with clause 8.2 of the TARC Education Foundation Memorandum and it demanded an explanation from us within a month. Otherwise, it will suspend the licence of the education foundation.
According to the definition of the government at that time, 50% of the Board of Trustees' members must not have any relationship with its founders. That means half of the TARC Education Foundation Board of Trustees' members must not be the group or its founders' family members or staff. At the same time, they must not be the members of the Board of Directors for its parent company or affiliate company. Since when did the Board of Trustees' members become family members or staff or the members of the Board of Directors of its organisation or subsidiaries?
After we explained to the Inland Revenue Board, a reply from the Board on January 23, 2019 confirmed that the TARC Education Foundation is 100% compliant and we have not violated the rules.
We thought that the storm would finally calm down. Unexpectedly, the Inland Revenue Board issued another letter in just 2 months, stating that we did not meet the specified regulations. In fact, we have not added or deleted any members of the Board of Trustees since the day we provided our explanation. As we all know, the Inland Revenue Board is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance. If it were not for the intervention of Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng, how could the Inland Revenue Board unreasonably cancel its own official letter sent earlier that had confirmed TARC Education Foundation to be 100% in compliance with the rules?
I emphasise again that when appointing every trustee, we must obtain the approval of the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and review to be conducted by relevant units, and each time we applied in accordance with the procedures and all have been approved, why we are now accused of not respecting the law? Or being illegal?
In fact, in order to avoid a stalemate in this matter, the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs held a coordination meeting on May 9 this year. The Ministry also invited representatives of the Inland Revenue Board to attend, and our representatives also attended the meeting. The meeting suggested that since the members of the Board of Trustees were also members of the TARC Education Foundation, four of them were required to resign from the Foundation.
Although this new proposal may not be legally correct, we valued peace at that time and gladly accepted the suggestion of the Secretary- General of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, and handed the relevant letter to the Inland Revenue Board representatives who were present, awaiting for their approval.
What was unexpected to us was in a letter received from the Inland Revenue Board on May 24 stating that we asked four Board of Trustees’ members to resign from the Foundation was a belated action done in afterthought. We acted upon the suggestion of the government; how come we have become afterthought?
We had to appeal again, because many foundations have the same structure as the TARC Education Foundation, including the Perdana Leadership Foundation, which was set up by Prime Minister Tun Mahathir, and is also registered with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, which is also a Public Company Limited by Guarantee and enjoy tax exemption from the Ministry of Finance.
How could the members and trustees of the Perdana Leadership Foundation be the same individuals, but not for the TARC Education Foundation? We have put forward many different arguments, but the relevant authorities, especially the Inland Revenue Board under the control of the Minister of Finance, still refused to accept them.
Tian Chua also met with Liow Tiong Lai and me at the Royal Lake Club on July 31 this year and asked us to change half of the Board of Trustees' members so that the TAA candidates preferred by Lim Guan Eng could fill the vacancies in the Board of Trustees. This is bullying plain and simple so that we cannot accept such an offer.
Afterwards, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Saifuddin Nasution and Tian Chua met with the Chairman of the Board of Governors Liow Tiong Lai at the Zenith Hotel Putrajaya on August 5 and also expressed his wish that this matter could be resolved properly. If the authorities require us to replace 4 new trustees who have nothing to do with MCA, we can also give face to the Minister to solve the problem amicably and, once and for all. However, we always insist on acting in accordance with the Foundation's Memorandum of Association, that is, the Foundation's general meeting to recommend trustees for approval by the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, rather than nominated by the Minister of Finance.
On October 10, Saifuddin met again with Chairman of the Board of Governors Liow Tiong Lai at Le Meridian Hotel, Putrajaya, the latter also presented 4 independent candidates as members of the Board of Trustees. After that, we formally submitted a list of 4 people to the Companies Commission of Malaysia on October 18. The first candidate was the former president of UTAR, Professor Tan Sri Dr Chuah Hean Teik. He is also the president of the Federation of Engineering Institutions of Asia and the Pacific (FEIAP) and an authoritative figure in academia.
The second is a fourth batch graduate of TARC, who is also a well-known lawyer appointed by the current government to several tribunals royal commission of inquiry, Dato Roger Tan Kor Mee.
The third candidate is Datuk Khoo Chin Guan, a well-known BDO partner in the accounting industry. He was the former chairman of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and an outstanding alumnus of TARC.
The fourth candidate is Datin Paduka Tan Siok Choo. She is the granddaughter of Tun Tan Cheng Lock, the daughter of Tun Siew Sin, and a famous female entrepreneur. She does not hold any important party position and not active in MCA.
The four of them are corporate and academic elites, as well as outstanding alumni. In order to solve the problem, we can compromise in order to reach a peaceful solution. The profiles of the four new members had been submitted to the government for more than a month now but the list has yet to be approved. Is it MCA's fault?
A few days ago, at the new TARC Board of Governors meeting on November 26, an officer from the Ministry of Finance suddenly presented a letter stating that the Board is illegal because the trustees are all MCA members, which was a shock to us.
Since when there is a law or Constitutional clause that prohibits a member of a political party from becoming a member of a foundation? This has violated our basic human rights, and the Constitution empowers us to participate in associations or companies. Not to mention that the Companies Commission of Malaysia has agreed to allow TARC Board of Trustees to undergo the change of trustees before December 31, 2019.
On November 28, 2019, Lim Guan Eng arbitrarily with no regards to the law, unilaterally appointed the TAA directly as the holder of the trust fund, regardless of the sovereignty of the existing TARC Education Foundation. What is his motive? He insisted on allocating at least RM30 million a year as matching grant to the newly established foundation, isn't he obviously splitting TARUC?
Applying the classic words of Xi Jinping in the China-US trade war, "We do not cause trouble, but we are not afraid of troubles." If Lim Guan Eng is not giving up on his acts, we will fight him until the end!
If Lim Guan Eng is capable, why does he not dare to question the Perdana Leadership Foundation of Tun Dr Mahathir and its Foundation members of the Board of Trustees? Only being a vindictive bully towards MCA, but submissive towards Tun Dr Mahathir, he changes his face faster than the flipping pages in a book!
I want to tell Lim Guan Eng, that's enough, we've had enough! Stop suppressing TARUC, and stop political persecution. TARUC was founded by us. This higher education institution that we and the Chinese society support together, have groomed at least 200,000 students. It enrols between 6,000 and 8,000 students of all races annually, with most of them being Chinese, which is close to the total number of Chinese freshies admitted each year by 20 public universities. The TAR UC that we established has contributed immensely in cultivating talents for the country. If DAP now as part of the government can ensure Chinese students can successfully enrol in public university and get the desired course, this also means that TARUC no longer has a market and MCA has completed its historical mission. But the reality is that the DAP cannot do it at all. As long as the admission restrictions/constraints are still in place, TAR UC established by MCA still has the necessity and value, so we have a responsibility to protect TARUC.
Lim Guan Eng, TAR UC was formed by MCA, we will not allow you to destroy it. TAR UC has been in existence for 50 years, serving those from needy families and meeting the need of our nation. It has produced many professionals and experts in various fields. So please, stop ruining an institution that has contributed much to nation building and economic development. As long as I am the President, I will be here to protect TAR UC from those who intend to tear it down. I am sure all MCA members & those from the Chinese community will also do their part to safeguard this institution.
Lim Guan Eng, you and your father as well as your party have never donated a single sen to TAR UC. Please do not abuse your power and stop all your wicked moves to wreak havoc on TAR UC. Please stay out of TAR UC!
There is a Chinese saying that goes: True gold fears no fire. Lim Guan Eng, I challenge you to a public debate and settle this issue once and for all. Isn't the DAP notorious for challenging others to debates? But see what is happening now, the diam-diam party is not only silent towards Bersatu, but also towards the Opposition. If you are afraid of debates, just tell everyone, don’t play dumb! Besides, if Guan Eng is truly innocent, why would he shy away from a debate?
Dear delegates and guests, another thing which had surprised me was, on the issue of TAR UC’s allocation, not only the Chinese community, but also many non-Chinese had shown their concern and support for us. During the Tanjung Piai by-election, we went to the streets to raise funds, where we received tremendous support from everybody. Some political parties which are on good terms with MCA, such as the Sarawak parties, even contacted us to express their willingness to help us. In addition, I must especially thank the Negeri Sembilan PAS for graciously taking the initiative to raise funds for TAR UC during the by-election.
I am grateful for this mutual support we have between parties. I am also thankful for every kind soul who has supported and donated to TAR UC. Up till this moment, we have together raised RM223,974 (as of 27/11/19) for TAR UC. This contribution from everyone, every last sen will be used for the benefit of the students. After all these trials and tribulations, TAR UC will definitely become even stronger!
On another note, MCA will be amending the Party Constitution during this annual general assembly. Two of the focal points are: One, lowering the age requirement for membership to 16 years; and Two, the implementation of the Affiliate Member system, to welcome non-Chinese into MCA as Affiliate Members.
We discovered, since the 1950s, MCA has recruited many non-Chinese as Affiliate Members. Thus, we decided that, today we shall make the relevant amendments to the Party Constitution. Furthermore, this is also in line with the recent changes in the political climate.
Yes, MCA is a Chinese-based political party, but we have never discriminated against others, and will continue to walk the path of multiracial harmony. Through this new system, MCA’s battles will be more inclusive by gathering the perspectives of the non-Chinese community, to ensure that public policies will be encompassing, multiracial, balanced, and listens to the Rakyat’s pulse.
Delegates and guests, we must always remember, being the opposition is not easy. No matter how spectacular the Tanjung Piai victory was, MCA has just 2 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. The road leading back to mainstream politics, back to being in office, remains a long journey with many steps ahead.
During the by-election campaign, we have witnessed Pakatan’s devious tricks and schemes. They are the kind of people who would do anything to win. After this landslide defeat, their attacks are only going to get worse. From a single TAR UC issue, we can clearly see, they will stop at nothing in their spite to bring reprisals onto MCA.
Regardless, from Merdeka till today, are there any enemies whom MCA has not faced? Any storms we have never braved? And now DAP wants us to keep our heads low? To put us out of commission? Then we will tell them, we’ll tell the whole Pakatan Harapan government: the entire MCA will not budge an inch, MCA will continue to fight on, and we will not bow down to anyone!
Thank you, thank you everyone.