DAP must stand by Ronnie

Ronnie should not resign as an executive councillor, or be punished by his party, in view of the fact that he has been cleared by the state government. To force him to quit or be punished by his party is surely a very unjust action.

Thomas Lee, Sinchew Daily

The manner in which the so-called Letterhead Scandal involving Selangor state executive councillor Ronnie Liu is being made into a major political turmoil by the spin writers of the mainstream media indicates one thing — they want to destroy and annihilate the popular DAP veteran and Pandamaran state assemblyman.

I am certainly not surprised that the Barisan Nasional, especially the MCA, is going all out to exploit the minor administrative matter involving the issuing of support letters for businesses by an elected representative.

But I am surely amazed that Ronnie’s own party colleagues, especially Klang MP Charles Santiago and Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi Chuan Aun, have made some very unpalatable and unwarranted public statements putting their senior party colleague in a very bad light. Perhaps the DAP discipinary committee should evaluate their statements and see whether or not they are justified.

During the public altercation on the controversy over the last few weeks, many emotionally-toned accusations and allegations were hurled at Ronnie’s direction by various people, without an apparent objective look at the real issue.

The fundamental fact is that the giving of support letters or recommendation letters or testimonials, especially by elected representative and senior government officials, per se is intrinsically not wrong. This has been the practice since the British colonial administration, when village headmen, district officers, or even school principals were asked to give a good word or endorse a person’s application for job, a scholarship or even in joining a social club.

And during the early days of Malaya’s independence, MCA leaders were among those who give support letters or endorse applications for citizenship by the Chinese community.

Even today, an applicant for a job or scholarship is required to provide testimonials and names of referees.

I doubt any of our current elected representatives, from both side of the political divide, has not issued any letter of support or testimonial to any of their constituents. Perhaps, every elected representative should be asked to make a public declaration that he or she has not done such a thing, before any of them is allowed to throw the first stone at Ronnie.

Nurul Izzah, Raja Petra and Ronnie Liu in court

The real issue is not that Ronnie had issued or endorsed any of those offending peccable letters, but the fact that those letters were either fake or abused without his knowledge. His letterheads and seal were used, his signature forged by someone he had then trusted and entrusted to represent him in some minor administrative functions. So, is Ronnie to be blamed if his aide abused his trust, and exploited his office to issue counterfeit support letters?

Note also that support letters and or recommendations are just that — to give support and make recommendation — and not instructions, orders or demands that must be carried out by the officers or officials of the government departments or agencies to which they are addressed. There is no compulsion or coercion requiring the government officers concerned to even entertain these letters or testimonials, let alone accede to their recommendations.

In Ronnie’s case, the Selangor state government has done a thorough audit on him and found that he has not enriched himself and his family members by those letters of support, whether they were issued with his endorsement or without his knowledge. Hence, there is no reason for him to be sacked or asked to resign, as there is no element of abuse or corruption on his part. His main problem is that he misplaced his trust on someone of questionable character.

In the case of his former aide Teoh Boon Hock, it has been confirmed that his son’s company had benefitted materially from the Klang Municipal Council contract, and hence found to have abused his position, and summarily expelled by the DAP and sacked as a councillor by the Selangor state government.

Ronnie should not resign as an executive councillor, or be punished by his party, in view of the fact that he has been cleared by the state government. To force him to quit or be punished by his party is surely a very unjust action.

Th DAP must be seen to be fair and just in dealing with Ronnie. Certainly, the political rivals of the DAP, especially the MCA, and perhaps some jealous upstart party colleagues, would want to get rid of Ronnie. But the DAP leadership must stand firm, as it has been doing so since the party’s founding, and not allow some antagonistic outsiders and inimical immature party upstarts to pressure it to punish a loyal party veteran.