KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional has lifted the suspension of Penang state assemblymen Tan Cheng Liang and Lim Boo Chang from the MCA with immediate effect.
Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the decision was accepted by the coalition’s supreme council which met yesterday.
“It was also agreed to by the Gerakan,” he told a press conference at Menara Datuk Onn in Putra World Trade Centre here after a two-hour meeting.
Dr Mahathir, who is also Prime Minister, said the duo would resume their duties as Barisan assemblymen in the Penang state assembly.
Tan, the Jawi assemblyman, and Lim (Datuk Keramat) -were suspended indefinitely on Dec 16 last year after they abstained from voting against a DAP motion on the Penang Outer Ring Road project at the state assembly sitting.
Expressing his happiness at the decision, MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said the outcome showed that the Barisan spirit and relationship among component parties was good and back to normal.
“We are looking forward to better cooperation among Barisan component parties, especially between the MCA and Gerakan,” he said when asked to comment on the decision immediately after the press conference.
Ong said the MCA would certainly work with Gerakan in Penang for the mutual benefit of the two parties, as well as the Barisan and the nation as a whole.
“I am confident that in other states too, MCA and Gerakan, as well as other component parties, will be able to work together very well,” he added.
He said he would ensure that MCA leaders in Penang would play a positive role in this matter, and expected Gerakan leaders to do the same. This would ultimately lead to a win-win situation, he added.
Ong said yesterday’s decision, which reflected the consensus of the Barisan, was made with a lot of goodwill.
“All component parties recognise the fact that Barisan has to work
together. We should always think of the larger interest of the Barisan, instead of any particular party’s interest.
“This principle is very well recognised and we should be moving forward now,” he said.
Ong said the relationship among component parties was much closer now and this would pave the way for closer cooperation, especially at the grassroots level.
MCA secretary general Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh said the Barisan’s decision augured well for Barisan and the people.
He said good and effective services for the people must be the focus and this should not be bogged down by unproductive issues or arguments.
Gerakan vice-president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the issue of the two assemblymen “had become a minor issue” within the context of the Barisan’s principle, spirit, and existing formula on power sharing.
“This is also in the context of the assurance given by the MCA president that he would convince MCA leaders in Penang of the importance of the Barisan’s spirit and understanding,” he said.
Dr Koh, who is also Penang Chief Minister, said component parties should accept and respect the principles and power-sharing arrangement within the coalition.
“For example, the MCA plays a more prominent role in the Federal government while in Penang, Gerakan plays the leading role,” he said.
He added that he looked forward to a much better working relationship and understanding with MCA.
“I am free,” shouted Tan with joy after receiving a call from Ong at 2.35pm on her reinstatement at her service centre in Jawi.
The two-term assemblyman said she was finally free from anxieties after 10 months of not knowing her fate following her suspension.
“I can finally heave a sigh of relief,” laughed Tan, whose hand-phone rang non-stop with congratulatory calls, including from Penang MCA chairman Wong Kam Hoong.
Her supporters gathered at her service centre to congratulate her.
“My heartfelt thanks go out to Dr Mahathir and his deputy Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Ong and former MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and other Barisan leaders who had helped me to return to the party,” she said.
Lim thanked the Barisan for the decision that would help foster ties between Barisan component parties.
“I wish to thank the Barisan for making an excellent decision which is truly in the spirit of the Barisan,” he said after presenting 20 school bags to needy pupils at Taman Sri Indah 88 in Perak Lane, in Penang, yesterday.
He urged all Barisan component parties to foster closer ties and work harder to ensure victory in the coming general election.
“We have to work harder to ensure full victory in Penang as this is the home-base of the future Prime Minister,” he said.
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