NB: This press statement was released on 2 March 2013.

There is an oft-repeated story about how, in pre-Independence Malaya, the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Hisamuddin Alam Shah had been denied entry into the Lake Club in Kuala Lumpur on the basis that the social club was only for “white people”. Such was the discrimination during the day that even a Sultan was not spared. Today of course, the Lake Club not only enjoys royal patronage, but is also open to all regardless of skin colour.

Unfortunately, it would appear that a similar incident has occurred in Penang. Though certainly not on the basis of race, the Penang Club had abruptly cancelled at the last minute the launch of Kee Thuan Chye’s latest book, “Ask for no bullshit, get some more!” for the simple reason that they did not want the Chief Minister to launch it.

The book launch and forum was scheduled to take place on 28 February 2013 at the Penang Club, and had been previously approved by the club.

According to the author Thuan Chye’s post on Facebook, the event was cancelled “because Penang Club approached me at virtually the last minute to say they would not allow the Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng, to officially launch my book. They said they did not want to be seen to be politically aligned.”

Thuan Chye goes on to explain, “Penang Club knew from the start I had asked Guan Eng to do the honours but had said nothing against it till now. Besides, he is the Chief Minister of Penang. And an honorary member of the club, to boot! What political alignment?”

It is a sad day in Penang when the elected Chief Minister of the state and, as Thuan Chye highlighted, an honorary member of the club, could be treated in such an unceremonious manner. It is not only the Chief Minister who has been disrespected but also the people of Penang and the club’s own members, many of whom had already signed up to attend the event.

It is greatly disappointing that a respected organisation such as the Penang Club would stoop to such pettiness. The question therefore arises whether the Penang Club is attempting to take a political stand by disallowing the Chief Minister to officiate the book launch.

Whatever their reasons, it is only right that the Penang Club committee should issue a written explanation as to why, after initially agreeing, they decided to cancel the launch of Kee Thuan Chye’s book by the Chief Minister of Penang.

Zairil Khir Johari, Special Officer to the Chief Minister of Penang