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ARKIB : 17/12/2002

MCA Presidential Council's decision: Abdullah wants explanation

KUCHING Dec 16 - Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants an explanation from MCA regarding the suspension sentence imposed by its presidential council against its two Penang assemblymen.

"I certainly want to know what it means by `indefinitely'... if `indefinitely' is to mean until the end of their respective terms as BN-elected representatives, then it could be viewed as a stern decision, meaning no more role for them as BN assemblymen," he told reporters after attending a Hari Raya get-together organised by the Sarawak Malay Cultural Foundation and Hikmah at the Petra Jaya Unity Stadium here tonight.

The MCA Presidential Council today decided to suspend indefinitely Tan Cheng Liang (BN-Jawi) and Lim Boo Chang (BN-Datuk Keramat) for their actions when they decided to abstain from voting against a DAP motion to defer the RM1.02 billion Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project until the completion of the RM400 million Jelutong Expressway during the Penang state legislative assembly sitting on Nov 21.

However Abdullah said that if the suspension was for a short period of time then it would be meaningless and would not commensurate with the gravity of the offence committed.

He said MCA would probably have explained the rationale of the presidential council's decision to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is also the BN Chairman.

EARLIER, Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik has described the decision of the MCA Presidential Council today to suspend indefinitely its two Penang state assemblymen as insincere.

He said the MCA Presidential Council should have considered the cohesiveness that existed within the Barisan Nasional (BN).

"It is a decision taken on the context of MCA without care for the spirit of the Barisan Nasional," he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Klang here.

Dr Lim said it should have taken into consideration the role of the BN as a party which had benefitted not only the country but the people as well.

It would be better if the decision was brought to the meeting of the BN Supreme Council next month, he said.

Earlier when contacted by Bernama, Dr Lim who is also Primary Industries Minister, refused to comment on the decision.

Tan and Lim's action created an uproar among the BN component parties in Penang with many fearing that if left unchecked it could cause major problems for the ruling coalition.

The matter was referred to the BN Supreme Council last month and it was decided that it should be left to the MCA to mete out punishment against the two.

The MCA presidential council then directed the party disciplinary committee, headed by Datuk Kam Woon Wah, to investigate the matter and recommend the type of action to be taken against Lim and Tan.

The MCA Presidential Council announced its decision to suspend indefinitely the two assemblymen at its meeting today.

In the meantime, Gerakan had been very vocal on the issue, even calling for the sacking of the two, who were formerly Gerakan members but joined the MCA after winning their respective seats in the 1999 general election.

Dr Lim last week charged that Penang MCA Chief Wong Kam Hoong was the "instigator" of the actions of the two errant assemblymen.

Meanwhile, the Peoples' Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk M. Kayveas said the decision was harsh enough as it was tantamount to expulsion.

"In the spirit of the Barisan Nasional, I think we should wait for BN Supreme Council meeting next month before making any official stand on this matter," he added.

MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu meanwhile felt that MCA had acted fairly in taking disciplinary action against the duo.

In PENANG, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon wanted the MCA to explain what it meant by suspending the two assemblymen "indefinitely".

Was it forever or just for a certain period of time, he told a news conference at his office.

Dr Koh, who is also Gerakan vice-president said the MCA must make this clear before the BN Supreme Council's meeting next month.

"Their status is still unclear and whether they are still BN assemblymen or independents. It depends on the decision of the coming meeting and in this respect, MCA must state clearly the period of suspension," he said.

IN reaction to his suspension, Datuk Keramat state assemblyman Lim Boo Chang said that he is upset but will respect the MCA presidential council's decision to suspend him indefinitely for abstaining from voting against an opposition motion on the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

He said he accepted the decision with an open heart and promised to continue to serve his constituency.

"This is not the first time that I've become an independent assemblyman. If we recall, in 1999 after deciding to leave Gerakan, I was an independent assemblyman for two months before joining the MCA. This time is different because it is not my wish," he said when met at his office, here.

He said that any decision he would make would depend on the suspension letter that he would be receiving.

Lim also thanked the voters and his supporters and called on them to be patient.

"For 15 years, I had joined the wrong party and I thought in year 2000 when I joined MCA, I could then serve the party and Barisan Nasional (BN)," he said.

"My heart is still with MCA and BN. I'm very upset over this but my service centre will continue," he said, adding that he would be more dedicated to his constituency.

The decision would not put him off but would instead strengthen his determination, he said.

Meaanwhile, Jawi state assemblywoman Tan Cheng Liang, who together with Lim was suspended by the MCA presidential council today for the same reason, could not be contacted for comment.

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