By Leslie Lau
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — Two of Malaysia’s oldest lawmakers — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Lim Kit Siang — engaged in a bipartisan debate this afternoon on micro-blogging site Twitter, backing each other in a campaign to force the federal government to pay oil royalties claimed by Kelantan.
In a series of “Tweets” and “Re-Tweets” between the DAP and Umno man which were followed by thousands, the two men stepped up their campaign for Kelantan’s oil royalty claim, and offered up lessons on how to pitch their message to a new generation of voters.
“Why don’t I put the PDA up on my blog, YB RT @limkitsiang:@razaleigh should not have to depend solely on memory.
“My fellow dinosaur w/a memory of a better day RT @limkitsiang: Najib: Razak’s son or Mahathir’s heir?” Tengku Razaleigh twittered today in reference to a statement made earlier today by Lim and the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) which he says backs Kelantan’s claims.
(In Twitter code, RT means to Re-Tweet, or send on someone else’s original message to their own followers. To preface a message with an @ sign is to reply to a specific person’s Tweet)
Lim had accused the Najib administration today of ignoring the promise made 35 years ago by former Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein in denying oil royalty payments to Kelantan.
“The full-page advertisements contain an important omission — the reply 35 years ago in Parliament by the then Prime Minister, Tun Razak to my question whether all states in Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah had signed agreements with Petronas for oil exploration along the coastline and what were the joint profits for the state,” said Lim in his statement today.
The DAP man was referring to advertisements placed in Bahasa Malaysia newspapers to justify the federal government’s refusal to pay oil royalty to Kelantan.
Quoting the Hansard dated Nov 12, 1975, Lim said Tun Razak had promised that all states “will receive five per cent of the value of petroleum found and extracted from each of the states, whether onshore or offshore, that is sold by Petronas or agencies or contractors.”
In Lim’s Tweets, the DAP man told Tengku Razaleigh that it would be a good idea to put up the PDA on the latter’s blog.
He added that it would be a good idea for the Petronas founder to to set up a new website for all relevant documents on the issue.
“@razaleigh Let’s turn royal debate in Parliament in March into major debate on oil royalty,” Lim also told the Umno man.
Tengku Razaleigh currently has 1,838 followers while Lim has 5,876 followers.
These numbers are not indicative of the number of people who may have followed their debate, because their respective followers can also Re-Tweet their messages.
The two men carried on their “debates” for quite a few hours this afternoon, with both using the UberTwitter software, which means they were using their mobile phones to talk to each other and thousands of Malaysians on the micro-blogging site.
Besides the oil royalty issue, Lim and Tengku Razaleigh also talked about the “Allah” controversy and the need to revive Tunku Abdul Rahman’s legacy of good governance and moderate politics.
To Lim’s point that “kalimah Allah controversy would not have arisen if Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Inter-Religious Organisation was not scrapped by Mahathir,” Tengku Razaleigh replied that “all Malaysians of goodwill support genuine efforts to revive Tunku’s legacy and memory... no tokenism.”
In what was described as a love-fest by some of those following the conversation, Tengku Razaleigh also agreed with Lim’s suggestion that the country must return to the basics of the Merdeka constitution.
“@limkitsiang Agreed. This is beyond politics. We need a movement to save this country.”
Local Internet and telecommunications expert Dinesh Nair was one of those who followed the Twitter conversation between Lim and Tengku Razaleigh.
“@limkitsiang @razaleigh I know my tribe’s efforts were not wasted when we see two ‘dinosaurs’ from two opposing parties discussing on Twitter.
“And history being made, as ‘dinosaur’ @razaleigh discusses PDA with @limkitsiang. Thot u’d never see this? Think again!” Dinesh said in his Twitter message.