This is an excerpt from the speech by the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, at the official launch of No More Bullshit, Please, We're All Malaysians at Clove Hall in George Town yesterday. No More Bullshit is, of course, Kee Thuan Chye's latest book and this launch came two weeks after he had held two public readings in Penang.
"Thank you, Thuan Chye, for trying to open up our eyes to more bullshit. It is not going to be that easy to do so but this is one very important effort and this is why I am here. I'm here not only because Thuan Chye is a friend. He always tries to be a bit apologetic for being critical but my friend, you know, I have never shied away from being criticised because, you know, I think that is something that is positive. At least, have another perception, have another view. You may not always agree with it but your type of criticism compared to the type of lies that they flung at me, actually, is so gentle.
"The latest one they had done in Utusan Malaysia ... my favourite newspaper ... that there is a conspiracy between me and the PAP government of Singapore. Why? Because I hosted a private courtesy visit by Singapore MPs. And indeed I did. There was a private courtesy visit by all the women MPs from Singapore. Fourteen of 18 women MPs came, led by their women's wing chairperson, Grace Foo, with a senior cabinet minister.
"Now what's wrong with hosting a private courtesy visit from Singaporean MPs? I have no problem when I host MPs from Australia, from New Zealand, from England, from Thailand, from Indonesia, but suddenly when I host a private courtesy visit by Singaporean MPs, it is a conspiracy.
"And I only did it two days ago. That was on Friday. They knew about it on Saturday. There must be a spy in my office. You know, I would not call them a spy. Anyway, a spy is already too kind a word. Since these are all female MPs, I would call the Utusan Malaysia a Peeping Tom. You know, Peeping Toms like to peep at women and they all happen to be women MPs. So they are a blooming Peeping Tom.
"And...but as I said, that is the type of bullshit we get, that even when you have visits by countries on a G-to-G, government-to-government relationship, they spread all these types of lies. If that is so big a problem, I think a bigger problem will be UMNO Youth having direct political-to-political relationship with the Communist Party Youth Wing of China. That was announced by none other than the UMNO Youth president Khairy Jamaluddin a few years back when they had direct links, political party-to-political party links, with the Communist Party Youth Wing of China. For us it is only government-to-government, no political party-to-political party links, and yet they make such a big hue and cry.
"But that is the bullshit that sells among some sections of Malaysians. So the task ahead is very hard. Unless we can cut through the bullshit, I think we will be overwhelmed by all the bullshit. So it is our task to see what we can do and I am sure that all of us here today will want to see issues that are discussed with reason, clarity and not with emotions and with untruths. But unfortunately, that is something that we will have to deal with until we can make that real change."
There is an interesting sequel to this speech. After it was over, my old school mates and I were discussing the book launch and Guan Eng's speech. One of our friends, Kheng Hock, who had flown up to Penang with the Singaporean women MPs - his wife was a member of the PAP Women's Wing, so he knew first-hand, and this was real inside information - revealed with indignance that the Singaporean MPs had not only visited the Chief Minister but had also met up with the UMNO Wanita group in Penang.
He remarked caustically that the UMNO Wanita people had presented gifts to the Singaporeans. All this, of course, was conveniently not mentioned by Utusan Malaysia because it did not serve that newspaper's purpose. Kheng Hock took it upon himself to reveal the information to Guan Eng and that's why, in The Malaysian Insider today, there's this follow-up revelation.