In high spirits … Johor PKR chairman Chua is back at work
JOHOR PKR chairman Chua Jui Meng went on leave for two weeks after Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim announced in Gelang Patah on March 18, 2013, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang’s candidature for the coming 13th General Election.
Chua, who is also PKRvice-president, had campaigned in Gelang Patah, Johor and nationwide since 2010 following his appointment as Johor PKR chief.
Today, he held a press conference in the PKR headquarters in Merchant Square, Petaling Jaya.
The following is a transcript of his media conference:
I took leave for two weeks which ended three days remaining before the dissolution of Parliament.
During the two weeks, I spent time to reflect on what I should do and what kind of path I should pursue. The two weeks of leave has been a very refreshing one.
It is a time which I really treasured, in the company of my family members especially with the grandchildren and I have 10, congratulations to myself and it was an extremely meaningful period of my life after having been thrown into the hurly burly of politics.
Not politics of ala BN (Barisan Nasional) but politics ala reformasi and it was a time of great challenges a time of challenging myself. I felt I was 40 years old again.
I must apologise, right from the start to all the reporters and editors, all media chiefs who have been trying to communicate with me the past two weeks.
Usually, I will take calls, even calls from numbers that my phone does not recognize. But this time, I decided that the best option is still the “silence is golden” stance.
I must congratulate one reporter. A young man, full of initiative. Obviously he tried to communicate with me many times. But I did not answer his calls.
He then decided to come to my house, rang the bell and was admitted by my maid. I was not at home. He came in and told my wife he wanted to interview me.
Fortunately, I was not at home. But this guy should be promoted because he had the initiative to do this. He didn’t leave, he waited outside the gate in his car to see whether I was really not in or whether I would come out and then stop me to ask for an interview.
But thank-you all of you for your concern. But really there was no basis for concern.
It was a personal time for me to reflect and to consider. I must disappoint some people today and some leaders outside by saying that at no time did I ever consider retiring from PKR.
I remained, during my leave, and at this point of time a PKR member and a PKR leader, and I intend to continue to do so.
People have asked me whether I have any seat. I say at this point of time, I don’t have any seat. But then that is not important because I have come to the stage in life where I have options.
Which means to say I win if I stand (for election). I win if I don’t stand.
It is a position that brings peace, that brings comfort, that brings joy where I know either way I will win. I will now take questions from the media:
Reporter: Dato’, have you buried your hatchet with (Johor DAP chief) Dr Boo Cheng Hau?
Chua: I have never sought any quarrel with Boo Cheng Hau. I have never started anything with Boo Cheng Hau … I always say I have very little to comment because the decisions are no longer made by Johor PKR or Johor DAP. The decision is already at the central leadership and the final decision will be made by the Ketua Umum (Anwar Ibrahim). So, there was no need for the so-called quarrel. When one person wants to quarrel and I don’t engage, you cannot call that a quarrel. Okay? I have no axe-to-grind with Dr Boo. I wish him all the best. He is a young DAP leader and I believe he has a great future and I continue to wish him all the best in his political career.
Chua conducting his first media conference with supporters from his Johor team and Klang Valley.
The talk is you have been offered the Segamat seat. Can you comment on this?
Up to today, there is no seat that can be said offered to me because at the moment PKR has 11 parliamentary seats. We had 12 parliamentary seats in Johor in 2008. Of the 11 seats available now, we have very able people who will be candidates. And I am not in the business of usurping anybody of their seat. The 11 seats will be well represented. And I intend to see that these people will continue to stand and I will not ask anyone to step down for my sake. That is not my character.
Will you help DAP to campaign?
Of course. I have always been consistent in saying that there should not be any dispute between us. We are brothers in politics. We have a Chinese saying Mao Tou Xiang Wai. That means the spears must point outwards. The spears wielded by officers and soldiers must not be pointed towards ourselves. I have always maintained that. I will cooperate with PAS, DAP, whether I stand or not (in the general election).
Dato’, are you saying you will not stand for election?
I am not saying anything. I am just saying that I really do not have a house to go to. I had a house. The house was called Gelang Patah. I was asked to work there as the state chief to lead the change for Johor PKR. And then I was told to leave my house. Of the party has to look for other houses for me. And is good of them to do so. Various constituencies were named. Constituencies that belong to DAP were considered so that Johor PKR maintains its quota of 12 parliamentary seats in Johor. But, unfortunately, up to now, no door has been opened for me. And, as I said earlier on, that it does not matter to me. What matters to me is that PR wins, and wins big in Johor. That is what matters to me. And I must also say that when I joined the party after discussions with Datuk Seri Anwar, I did not have to join. I was offered a very important post. I turned it down because I believed that it was time for a two-party system to be established in this country. I believe with all my heart that the misrule and the misdeeds of the present federal administration must now surrender to the people. And a people-oriented government must come into place. A government that is pledged to give priority to the people. That is what I want. All my life, even when I was Minister of Health, I practiced that. I created the caring culture for all the patients and families in the country. I said we must treat our patients with love and care. That is our duty. Without our patients, we have no position. And I said that in the Ministry of Health, I say the centre of it all is not the Minister of Health, I say the centre of it all is not the director-general of health, not the chief secretary of the ministry. The centre of it all is our patients and their families. O give them comfort in their times of pain. To give them relief at the time of distress when even their very life hangs in the balance. Care for them, care for their families. Thanks be to God, I changed the entire culture in the Ministry of Health. I turned it from a backwater ministry to a forefront ministry recognized by the people. This is the same philosophy of life that I am pursuing in PR. It is not for glory, it is not for gain but to see an end to a corrupt regime, to see an end to poverty of the people, relative or absolute. Poverty is a disease. Poverty is endemic in Malaysia. Poverty is chronic. I have seen poverty among Malays, among Indians, the Orang Asal of Sabah and Sarawak. I see poverty among the Chinese. After 42 years of the New Economic Policy (NEP), the second prong of the policy is the eradication of poverty is still not fulfilled. We still see poverty, relative and absolute, in the midst of our population. It is time that poverty be completely eradicated in Malaysia and I dedicate my life to that. I don’t want to see any poor people in this country anymore. I don’t want to see any disabled who is not being helped by the government in a way that they can have a honourable form of living. It is for all these reasons that I joined PKR and PR. I do not join to quarrel with people. Far from it, I will avoid it as far as I can. I have been humiliated, I have been defamed on the front pages of Chinese newspapers. But I said, by the Grace of God, I forgive them. And I say by the Grace of God, I wish them well and I hope they will succeed in the battle ahead.
Did you receive any offers to leave PKR to rejoin your old party (MCA)?
That is something very natural. Very natural. But my answer is absolutely ‘No’. No! No! No! I did not come in for position. Like I said, I told Anwar in view of my age, even though I looked 40, I would wish not to stand. But I was persuaded by him. He is a very persuasive gentleman and I was persuaded by him to fight it out. I want to say just over the Chinese New Year period, I went out from 6.30 in the morning right up to almost midnight, going round every nook and corner of Gelang Patah and I shook hands with voters there with a smile throughout the entire day. (Spending) time to converse with them, (shook the hands of) at least 25,000 voters in the span of the Chinese New Year period. Over the past year, I have shook hands with more than 40,000 people in Gelang Patah. And I would like to say that Gelang Patah is highly winnable (for PR). And I am honoured that the person who is taking over Gelang Patah from me is Lim Kit Siang. A man of integrity, a man of honour, a man who persisted in the struggle for change in the country. And I want to tell all those people whom I had shaken hands with, and many expressed support for me, from all the races; I want to tell them, support Lim Kit Siang. Malays, Chinese, Indians, support him. This is my privilege to be able to contribute to the illustrious career of this great man Lim Kit Siang.
Dato’, are you saying you want to contest but there is no house to go to?
Yes. Chinese say Wu Jia Ke Gui.
A keen interest from the media reporters waiting for Chua to arrive for his press conference.
What about talks of Segamat for you?
If a seat is offered to me, I will give it the greatest consideration.
Dato’, how do you rate the chances of PR in Johor?
I would say very good. I am saying it from the point of view of one man who has walked both sides. I have 35 years in BN, I have had four years in PR. When I went to Johor, Johor PKR was the weakest state in the PKR stable of the whole country. When Anwar asked me to enter Johor, I actually said ‘Thank-you very much but I would like to decline”. Because I know it is the most difficult state in the peninsula. To ask me to go and build up from scratch is going to be a very arduous task at this time of my life. But Anwar, being the leader that he is, persuaded me. So, I went in. And I want to tell you, prior to my leave, PKR had reached its peak., from zero seats in state and parliament in Johor. I want Johor PKR to go from zero to hero. That is achievable. For among many reasons is that unlike PRU12 (12th General Election) when Anwar was rarely seen in Johor. He did go to just a few places. This time, over the past three years I have been state chairman, he has gone to every nook and corner of Johor. And everywhere he went, he was compelling and able to draw huge crowds of people by the thousands, ten thousands, even 30,000. The commitment of the Majlis Pimpinan Negeri is wonderful. Many of them are here today. Many of them are here with me today. Wonderful contribution. They went into their task. And I want to say to you that, thanks to these people that I have with me, this team, this excellent team that I have in Johor, we reached a peak. We were together with DAP in our activities, we were able to bring the Chinese voters to an optimum. And I will tell the Chinese community that if they do not give us 80% of their votes in Johor, I would be disappointed. That is the kind of achievement that we have been able to achieve. We have been able to go into the Malay heartland, into the Felda areas, into the kampongs together with Datuk Seri Anwar. The Chinese tell me very often ‘Don’t worry about our votes. You go and get the Malay votes and the Indian votes”. And I have committed three and a half years of my life to doing just that. Going into the kampongs. Not ignoring the Chinese. I am very grateful to the Chinese and love to see that they see an opportunity for change in this nation. And they are all behind PR. I can tell you we have peaked and then they say go to our Malay brothers, go to our Indian brothers. And we have not spared ourselves in doing that. Ceramah after ceramah, dinners after dinners, big ceramah, small ceramah in the Malay areas. I have seen Anwar … 10,000 people, 90% Malays. We have been able to do the largest Chinese dinner in Johor by the Opposition, 8,000 people of all races. We are a true multiracial party. We represent all races. I want to remind every PKR leader in Johor, we must care for all races. We must love the Malays, love the Indians and we must love the Chinese. We must care for them. And we must show that we care for them. Just like our doctors and nurses in hospitals show they can care for their patients. So, we also are concerned about their welfare. We have an agenda, we have a wonderful manifesto. We have wonderful promises made. I would like to see them fulfilled. That is more important than whether I have a seat or not.
Dato’, how do your grassroots in Gelang Patah feel about Lim Kit Siang?
To be honest, some people feel disappointed. People do feel disappointed. But the disappointment does not last. It is normal. In any environment when a general election is near. This will happen. It happens. And this will happen in BN. I can assure you, especially in Umno. We know the deep factionalism in Umno. We know what is happening. What they feel is nothing compared with the passion that will be evoked when the final decision is made by Umno for BN.
Why the need for you to go on leave?
I must tell you that my stand in life at this time of my life is just to see the change coming to this country. It is not to stand (in an election). In fact, I have already told you earlier that I wished I didn’t have to stand. But now, if I am called upon, can I say ‘No’? If I want to fulfill the change this country needs.
Dato’, my question was why the need to take leave?
No. I told him (Anwar) that I would take two weeks leave. Two weeks is actually a very short (break) after four years. But for me, two weeks was very important for me to reflect and even seek God.
One more thing Dato’, Umno is now urging Johor Mentri Besar Ghani Othman to take on Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah. Your comments please?
My comment is, obviously they are trying to get rid of of Ghani. Very obvious. They don’t want Ghani.
Why do you say that they don’t want Ghani?
Actually the divisions within Umno are well known. Not only in Johor but everywhere. And this is the greatest worry and headache for (PM) Najib. How to reconcile the irreconcilable? That is the challenge he faces.