Media Statement - A Response to Marina Yusoff
     

    Media Statement

    A Response to Marina Yusoff I returned to Kuala Lumpur on 4 July 2000 after attending an international seminar on Religion & Politics in Asia' in Bangalore, India.

    Though I already had some idea of Puan Marina Yusoff's '13 January' letter to me, it was only after scouring various newspaper and magazine reports and internet postings, that I managed to imbibe the full implications of her tirade against me. I have also spent some time in the last 3 days talking to my colleagues in the keADILan Supreme Council, grassroot party officials and members, friends and relatives on how I should respond to the former keADILan Vice-President's attack.

    The consensus is that given her personality and her political background, most people do not believe the baseless, reckless allegations contained in Marina's letter. Nonetheless, she has caused some confusion within sections of our society. To clear this confusion, I am issuing this media statement.

    This statement represents the gist of a much longer letter that I am sending to Puan Marina. My 11 page letter rebuts each and every allegation contained in her letter of 13 January. It demolishes the 15 outright lies, mangled half-truths and blatant distortions pedalled in her diatribe against me. I provide detailed evidence of her machinations within the party. The motives behind her manoeuvres are exposed.

    However, for the time being, I shall not make the letter to Marina public. There are two reasons for this. One, since the letter will reveal how wily she has been, all the flaws and foibles in her character will be laid bare. I do not want to shame her in public. In spite of what she has done to me, I believe that there must be a certain degree of decency and decorum in public discourse. Two, it is my hope that Marina will reflect on the contents of my letter and realise how wrong she has been in trying to tarnish my character and destroy my credibility. If there is a feeling of remorse on her part and she refrains from character assassination of this sort in future, my private communication to her would have achieved its purpose.

    Let me now provide you with the essence of my communication with Puan Marina. Some of the lies, half-truths and distortions I have dealt with are as follows:

    Lies

    i) I have never thrown files at Dr. Wan Azizah. I am glad that Azizah herself has denied vehemently that such an incident ever took place. In my 30 years of involvement in public affairs, I have not thrown files at anyone. Neither have I thrown files on tables or banged tables. I have seldom lost my temper in public.

    ii) Neither I nor anyone else had asked that disciplinary action be taken against Marina. The minutes of the relevant meeting and the testimonies of those who were present will establish the veracity of my statement.

    iii) I had not instigated keADILan Youth Chief Mohd Ezam Mohd Nor to go against Puan Marina. Whatever allegations were made against Marina emanated from the Youth Chief himself. I have documentary evidence of this.

    Half-truths

    i) Contrary to what Marina alleged in her letter, I provided as much information as possible to my colleagues in the Political Bureau on inter-party negotiations on seats for the General Election. Unfortunately, Marina attended only three out of the fourteen meetings of the Bureau.

    ii) In commenting on my intention to resign from the party in December 1999, Marina conveniently left out my remarks that, I have no stomach for the type of politics that is going on in keADILan' -- a clear reference to the unscrupulous politics associated with certain individuals in the party.

    Distortions

    i) While it is true that the President broke down and cried in the midst of all the tension generated by the selection of candidates for the General Election, it is important to understand the background to the incident and the circumstances surrounding it. Otherwise, one gets a distorted picture of what really transpired. It is because important decisions on seats and candidates made by the Supreme Council and President were arbitrarily changed at the last minute that I became annoyed and upset. It led to an exchange of words with the President over the phone. That exchange, and the pressures on her in the Elections Operations Room that night caused the tears. When I was later informed she had broken down, I apologised to her. It is an incident that both of us have set aside. Marina has blown it out of proportion for her own purpose.

    ii) I did not stop Marina from discussing the proposed merger with PRM. After all, I was the one who suggested the establishment of a liaison committee between the two parties in October last year.

    iii) I did not readily accept' the proposal that I should be Presid= ent of the party on the eve of its launch. On the contrary, it was largely because of my own opposition to the idea, that an alternative line-up was worked out.

    Apart from indulging in lies, half-truths and distortions, Marina has also accused me of ruling with an iron fist. She has failed to provide any evidence of my iron-fist rule'. The only person who agreed with her immediately was Dr. Mahathir Mohamad. It is not surprising that he believes Marina so easily. After all, he also accepted Ummi Hafilda's word on Anwar without question.

    If I'm fond of ruling with an iron-fist', I would not have proposed that keADILan's Disciplinary Committee should be headed by someone outside the Supreme Council, and not the Deputy President. By foregoing chairpersonship of one of the most powerful units within the party, I have curtailed my own power and authority over the membership.

    Through both exhortation and the formulation of various policies and programmes, I have tried to develop a democratic culture within keADILan. This is why I am so opposed to neo-feudal attitudes within the party rank-and-file. This is why I always encourage the membership to evaluate the performance of the leadership.

    However, Puan Marina is not interested in the truth about my role in keADILan. Her primary aim is to undermine my moral credibility and my political integrity. This is why she is making all sorts of senseless allegations against me.

    She has also concocted various allegations against Dr. Wan Azizah. In fact, in the first 6 months or so of keADILan, she made a concerted effort to undermine the moral authority of the President. She even sought to replace her with Anwar Ibrahim. When that failed she began to ingratiate herself to Wan Azizah. It was at that time that she intensified her assault on me and certain other party leaders.

    One wonders whether Marina's attempt to smear my name and to denigrate my leadership is part of a larger agenda. Is it aimed at emasculating the party because Barisan Nasional knows that keADILan has the potential of mounting a serious challenge to the former in mixed constituencies as proven by our performance in a number of Federal Territory/Selangor constituencies in the General Election and in the Teluk Kemang by-election recently? Isn't it true that the only way to defeat the BN is to capture mixed constituencies?

    Is this also why I'm being targetted? Isn't it true that with individuals like me at the helm of the party, it would be easier for keADILan to emerge as the nucleus of a multi-ethnic movement? Or, is it my role in the Barisan Alternatif -- in helping to forge a working relationship among the four partners, in sustaining a level of cooperation within the BA -- which irks the BN leadership?

    I ask: What is Marina Yusoff's role in this game?

     

     

    Dr. Chandra Muzaffar
    Deputy President
    8 July 2000 Parti Keadilan Nasional (keADILan)

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