Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, Oct. 26, 1987 on the 1988 Budget.
DAP proposes a one-year moratorium for all political parties where no racial, language, cultural or religious issues will be created or raised for every Malaysian to concentrate on the national priority of achieving economic recovery and growth.
The 1988 Budget of Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, on Friday, 23rd October 1987 had achieved a ‘first’ in many aspects, it is the first budget in Malaysian history which had the shortest public attention span, whether before or after the budget presentation.
On Budget Day itself, the budget could not dominate national attention, as with past Budget, as it lost out to other development, like the Sultan of Selangor’s withdrawal of the Datuk Paduka Mahkota Selangor award that carries the title “Datuk” conferred on Labour Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai; and the meeting of UMNO Youth with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, demanding the sacking of Lee Kim Sai from the Cabinet.
In terms of public impact, the 1988 Budget was a disaster. Malaysians who tuned in to the live telecast or the news bulletins saw government Ministers and Deputies struggling to keep awake during the Finance Minister’s budget speech, and one Minister in the front row soundly slept through the best part of the budget delivery with one hand prudently covering his face.
The Finance Minister has himself to blame for presenting a 1988 Budget which is such a ‘bore’! The Price Waterhouse panel of tax consultants had the same reaction, although they put it more politely, saying that it was a “non0Budget”, as its fiscal measures was “somewhat disappointing as it does not contain sufficient incentives to stimulate the economy.”
UMNO-owned Business Times described the 1988 Budget as a “non-event” as far as the Kuala Lumpur stock market was concerned, and in actual fact, it was a “non-event” for the whole country. In failing to address boldly with the protracted crisis of confidence which, on Monday turned into a Panic in the Federal capital and the country, and the escalating racial tensions, the Finance Minister has made the 1988 Budget an irrelevant economic instrument to revive the Malaysian economy.
The Finance Minister, at the end of his budget speech, did say:
“We must not repeatedly raise issues which have already been agreed upon or touch on sensitive issues. We should be fully alerts to the dangers we face in a multi-racial society. A single irresponsible act by a careless individual can result in racial tension and disturbance. If such problems are not contained, all that we have built will be quickly lost.”
Such admonition will be proper for ordinary times, but completely inadequate for present-day Malaysia, as highlighted by the 12-hour panic on Oct. 19, 1987 as a result of the Jalan Chow Kit shooting spree.
After the commendable Ministerial statement on the Jalan Chow Kit incident by the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayob, in Parliament last Monday. I had warned that malausia was teetering on the edge of a racial volcano, and that the government should take a deep look as to why a criminal incident could set off a 12-hour Panic in the Federal capital and country that wnother May 13 riots had started.
There is no doubt that after the UMNO Youth Rally on Saturday, 17.10.1987 where Chinese Malaysian journalists had to leave the scene as the police and the organisers could not guarantee their personal safety and security, and the meeting of UMNO Divisional Leaders at Putra World Trade Centre the next day, Sunday, 18.10.1987, where eight Chinese Malaysian journalists were pelted with mud and objects and had to leave in fear of their personal safety, racial nerves had been rubbed very raw in the country.
Unless sanity could prevail and return to the Malaysian body politic and all political leaders and parties stop stocking the racial flames of hatred and ill-will, then the racial volcano will one day explode, turning Malaysia into another Sri Lanka. In such an event, as Deputy Prime Minister, Ghaffar Baba, had said, “Kalah jadi abu, Menang jadi arang.” When this happens, the 1988 Budget will also be completely forgotten and buried away.
Parliament’s paramount task in this budget debate, therefore, must be to apply the brakes to the escalation of racial tensions, so that the 1988 budget – despite its inadequacies and shortcomings – and Malaysians as a whole can get on with the task of achieving economic recovery and growth which would benefit Malaysians of all races.
As elected representatives of the people, MPs have a special responsibility to set the example that we can talk to each other about the country’s complex and myriad problems, to achieving a greater degree of mutual understanding if not agreement, respecting each other’s sensitivities, without resorting ti race-baiting or provocations. We in the DAP will adhere to that Parliament could remain the highest forum where the elected representatives of people from all parties could sensibly, rationally and coolly, discuss and debate the most burning issues of the day.
Chinese primary schools promotion issue not a racial issue, but strictly an issue of the Barisan Nasional keeping its 1986 general elections pledge to preserve the character of Chinese primary schools.
It is clear that we have to start with the Chinese primary schools promotion issue, as it has been made the sparking point for a confrontation of the Malay and Chinese.
There should be no cause for racial tensions over the issue of Chinese primary schools promotions, which is not a racial issue, but strictly an issue of the Barisan Nasional government keeping its 1986 general elections pledge to preserve the character of Chinese primary schools.
As one of the conditions for a temporary teacher or an applicant as teacher-trainee for Chinese primary schools is that he should possess a credit in Chinese language in MCE or SPM, the extension of this Chinese language qualification to any person to be promoted to be assistant headmaster or senior assistant in a Chinese primary schools in most logical.
Unfortunately, this issue has become so distorted that the DAP is being accused of opposing the posting and promotion of Malays to Chinese primary schools this is completely untrue. If a Malay or Indian who has a credit in Chinese language in MCE or SPM is promoted to be senior assistant, assistant headmaster or even headmaster of Chinese primary schools, the DAP and I will openly support the promotion.
The Chinese primary schools promotion issue is not a threat or challenge to the rights, privileges, status, dignity of the Malays, or Bahasa Malaysia, but to get the Barisan Nasional government to honour its 1986 general elections manifesto to preserve the character of chinses primary schools.
There is no reason therefore for turning this issue into a racial issue. As the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, has returned from the Commonwealth conference, I would urge him to resolve this issue once and for all at Cabinet’s meeting on Wednesday, 28th Oct. 1987, announcing the government’s acceptance of the principle that for Chinese primary schools, only those with requisitie Chinese language qualifications would be promoted to senior administrative positions. If the government accepts this principle, there would be no strong objection if the Cabinet Committee or the Education Ministry takes till the end of the year to transfer out the unsuitable teachers.
However, if this principle is not accepted, the problem remains unresolved even if by the end of the year, the ‘controversial’ teachers are transferred out.
Call for formation of all-party national Consultative Council to prevent another May 13 riots, and not
to repair damage after another recurrence.
Racial tension in the country have become uncommonly high. A few days before National Day on August 31, Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, said that there was a May 13 1969 mood in the country. There was no such mood at the time, but in the past weeks since the National Day, racial tensions had mounted to justify reasonable concern whether the country is on the verge of another racial conflict.
This is because in the past weeks and months, there had been an uncommon high incidence of issues affecting racial, linguistic, cultural and religious sensitivities in the country, like the Johore Seafood Carniva Chinese signboard issue, the Malacca Education Department collective school prayer/pledge, the University of Malaya Senate decision on the elective course medium of instruction, and most recently, the Chinese primary schools promotion issue.
At a time when the country is undergoing a prolonged economic crisis, the country should be spared these divisive and destructive disputes over race, language, cultural and religion, for if unchecked, they could plunge the country into havoc and chaos, undermining all efforts at economic recovery.
It is for this reason that the DAP proposes that all political parties agree to a one-year moratorium, where no racial, language, cultural or religion issues will be created or raised, for every Malaysian to concentrate on the national priority of achieving economic recovery and growth. The status quo as on January 1, 1987 in all these matters should be maintained.
The DAP also proposes the formation of an all-party National Consultative Council comprising top party leaders meeting in closed session to defuse the racial, language, cultural or religion issues.
The first time a National Consultative Council was formed in Malaysia was after the May 13 riots in 1969, to repair the grave damage to race relations and national unity. It is more important to form a National Consultative Council now to prevent another May 13 riots, than to repair the damage after another recurrence.
If all political parties are prepared to defuse the racial tensions, and agree to a round-table conference in the form of the National Consultative Council to impose a one-year moratorium on the creation and raising of racial, linguistic, cultural and religious issues, then the country will have the conditions to concentrate on economic recovery and debate the efficacy of the 1988 Budget as an instrument in this direction.
Call for Postponement of the UMNO Nov. 1 mammoth rally in Kuala Lumpur
At a time of inflamed racial feelings and tensions, as highlighted by the Panic in Kuala Lumpur on 19th October 1987, it would be most irresponsible to hold a mammoth rally which could be interpreted as racial in character. It is for this reason that the Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Haniff Omar, made the call, to prevent “further aggravation” of the present situation, that there should be no more interpreted as being racial in character.”
In response to the IGP’s call, the DAP had postponed its Johore campaign to protest against illegal Indonesian immigrants, although this is not a racial issue, as the victims of crimes committed by illegal Indonesian immigrants come from all racial groups.
UMNO Secreatary-General, Datuk Sanusi Junid, has however ignored the IGP’s appeal, saying that the UMNO Nov. 1 rally is not a demonstration but a celebration in memory of the birth of UMNO. It is clear, however, from Sanusi Junid’s speech at the meeting of UMNO Divisional Leaders at Putra World Trade Centre on 18.10.1987 that the Nov. 1 UMNO rally was meant to be a show of strength and force, and this is why he had kept increasing the number of people who would attend the UMNO rally on Nov. 1 – from 150,000 to 200,000 and now 500,000.
Can Datuk Sanusi Junid guarantee that there would be no untoward incident as a result of the mammoth Nov. 1 UMNO rally? I call on Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as Home Minister to postpone the UMNO Nov. 1 rally, as national interest must take a higher priority to any party interest.
Malaysia bottom of the league of ASEAN countries in economic growth in 1987
I had started by saying that the Finance Minister’s budget has achieved many ‘first’. One if them is the revelation in the 1987/1988 Economic Report that Malaysia is at the bottom of the ASEAN league of nations for economic growth for 1987. Malaysia shares with Brunei for the bottom place with 2% GDP growth, as compared to Singapore’s 6.5%, Thailand’s 5.8%, Philippines 5% and Indonesia’s 3.2%.
This refutes the oft-repeated excuse of the government that world economic recession and the fall in commodity prices are responsible for the poor economic growth, as the other ASEAN countries are equally affected by the same adverse factors. Yet Thailand, despite a grave Kampuchean refugee and border problem, could chalk up an economic growth rate of 3.7% in 1985 and 3.8% in 1986, as compared to Malaysia’s negative growth rate of 1% in 1985 and 1.2% in 1986.
The root cause of Malaysia’s economic malaise lies in the protracted, unresolved and debilitating crisis of confidence, which lately, had been compounded by escalating racial tensions.
I have suggested a one-year moratorium for all political parties and a National Consultative Council to take care of the problem of escalating racial tensions, but we have still to grapple with the problem of crisis of confidence.
I note that the former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, in his speech to UMNO Johore on 2nd April 1987, said: “Kini jelaslah bahawa ekonomi kita tidak merosot akibat kemerosotan ekonomi dunia seperti yang didakwa oleh beberapa golongan tertentu. Sebenarnya kita merosot akibat beberapa factor yang berkait rapat dengan masalah kepimpinan, kepercayaan dan keyakinan.”
Datuk Musa Hitam said with regard to the crisis of credibility and confidence in the country: “Imej Negara Kita sebagai pusat niaga dan pelaburan telah secara berleluasa di persoalkan. Keadaan ini timbul akibat begitu banyak desas-desus, skendal, berita angin and cakap-cakap kedai kopi mengenai begitu banyak perkara, peristiwa serta perilaku dan kerenah manusia yang kononya melibatkan beberapa personoliti, lebih-lebih lagi mereka yang kononnya juga, mempunyai hubungan rapat dengan beberapa tokoh perntadbiran. Negara kita tidak seharusnya mengabaikan semua ini. Kalau tidak ada angin tidaklah pokok bergoyang.”
Datuk Musa mentioned several scandals in his speech, and dealt in particular with the UMBC scandal, which I had spoken about in this House Previously. However, as Datuk Musa Hitam posed three important questions on the UMBC scandal which was not answered, I am posing these same questions in these House as not only UMNO members, but the entire Malaysian people, are interested and entitled to these three questions of Datuk Musa Hitam:
“Mengapakah dan bagaimanakah saham UMBC yang berharga berates-ratus juta ringgit itu telah dijual kepada seorang individu, walhal kalaulah peraturan-peraturan pelajsanaan Dasar Ekonomi Baru, sebelum saham yang sebegini besar nilainya dikurniakan kepada sesiapa, tawaran hendaklah dibuat dengan cara lebih terbuka daripada apa yang telah di lakukan kepada:
Individu-individu bumuputra yang mungkin berminat kalaulah mereka dimaklumkan mengenainya;
Kumpulan syarikat atau sindiket bumioutra yang jua mungkin dapat dikunpulkan jika mereka di maklumkan mengenainya; dan
Setelah dipastikan kedua-kedua kumpulan diatas tidak berminat, barulah ditawarkan perjualn saham itu kepada institusi amnah bumiputra.
Bagaimankah pula setelah individu tertentu membeli saham tersebut, maka atas name jawatan tinggi dalam pentadbiran pula, saham tersebut dijualkan kepada institusi amanah bumiputra, khususnya Pernas, sungguhpun di katakan sejak awal-awal lagi Pernas berminat untuk membeli saham tersebut, apakah benar Pernas perlu meminjam wang daripada Jepun dalam keadaan harga Yen yang begitu tinggi untuk membeli saham UMBC itu baru-baru ini.
Berapakah harga saham-saham itu dibeli, dan berapakah harga saham-saham itu dijual.”
There is prima facie conflict of interest in the UMBC case, just as in the government award of the North-South Highway privatization contract to United Engineers (M) Bhd., or the Peremba/Fleet Group/ Bank of Commerce deals. The government is not enhancing its credibility, or resolving the crisis of confidence, by sweeping these issues under the carpet, and behaving like ostriches by putting their heads under the sand.
In mid-August, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Datin Rafidah Aziz, returned from the United Kingdom to tell Malaysians to stop gossiping about Malaysian leaders, as rumours about corruption and corrupt leaders circulation in British was killing potential British investment in Malaysia.
Datin Rafidah should know that the crux of the issue is not whether there is gossip, but whether there are corruption and corrupt leaders in Malaysia, for it there aren’t, then all the gossip will die a natural death and will have no credibility whatsoever.
If the Government does not want gossips to have credence, then it should be open and accountable, and be prepared to answer questions on scandals like the three questions posed by Datuk Musa Hitam on the UMBC affair. I hope the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, as the person directly involved in the UMBC shares transactions, will give Parliament and the country the answers to these three questions during the winding up of the debate on the budget.
DAP calls for establishment of a commission of Good and Ethical Government with powers of a Royal Commission to receive and inquire into complaints about conflict of interest, corruption or unethical conduct in government
The Trade and Industry Minister must admit however that this administration, which started in 1981 with the stirring slogan of ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’, government has lost all credibility on this slogan, for conflict-of-interest, breach of trust and corruption are now most rampant in the 30-year history of the nation.
It was the Prime Minister himself who told the Kelab UMNO United kingdom in London January this year that “We have reached a level where we can no longer trust in people… we live in a society which no longer has any honour.”
For this reason, the DAP urgently calls for the establishment of a Commission of Good and Ethical Government with powers of a Royal Commission to receive and investigate into complaints about conflict of interest, corruption or unethical conduct in government to restore public faith and trust in the integrity and honesty of the public service.
Unfortunately, the government seems to be moving in the opposite direction as in relaxing rules to allow civil servants to set up and manage (although not on a daily basis as an executive) family-holding companies to administer property owned by them and their immediate families. This is likely to affect the efficiency, and create conflict-of-interest and corruption in the civil service.
Call for Legislation to stop political parties from being involved in business.
The greatest threat to a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ government has been the mixing up of politics and business.
The Pan Electric case, where the former MCA President, Tan Koon Swan, used Multi-Purpose Holdings funds to mount the abortive rescue operation, is a case in point. Another was the co-operative finance scandals, where, according to Mr. Justice Harun Hashim, there was a “parade of Tan Sris, Datuks and politicians some of them still in power, who have been taking money from the poor – the hawker, taxi driver, vegetable gardener – in order to enrich themselves.”
And the latest case in the UEM contract for the North South Highway to enable UMNO to pay for its $360 million debts in connection with the UMNO Complex.
Malaysia’s elder statesman, Tunku Abdul Rahman, has said that it was “improper and irregular for a leading political party to make use of its power to amass wealth at the expense of the business ventures.” There is too much politicization of business and too much commercialization of politics in Malaysia. This is bad for the economy, because economic decisions then tend to be made not out of objective criteria related to economic or development issues, but out of political or personal consideration. This can lead to the waste of funds, wrong investment, bad projects, non-performing loans and projects, conflict of interest situations and malpractices.
For this reason, DAP calls for legislation to ban political parties from being involved in business.
Call on Anti-Corruption agency to investigate into the approval of 2,000-acre forest concession in Pahang to a low-cost housing resident a day before the August 3, 1986 general elections.
One reason for my proposal for a Commission on Good and Ethical Government is because the Anti-Corruption Agency had failed to check corruption in high places. The ACA could only deal with ikan bilis, but not with sharks, in the sea of corruption in Malaysia.
The ACA has an opportunity to prove me wrong, for I am asking it to investigate into the approval of a 2,000-acre forest concession in Pahang to a low-cost housing resident a day before the August 3, 1986 general elections.
In a letter dated 23rd January 1987, (Ref: PHN.PHG. 143/2/3/SK. 18(4)) the Pengarah Perhutanan Negeri Pahang Dato Abdul Latif bin Nordin, informed Encik Azmi bin Daud of 71, Rumah Kos Rendah, Lanchang, Mentakab, that his application dated 21st July 1986 for about 2,000 acres of forest concession in Bentong District had been approved by the Mentri Besar of Pahang on 2nd August 1986.
Azmi bin Daud was given 30 days to pay $260,424.16 to take up the concession, comprising of the following payment:
Bayaran premium selonggok $60,000.00
Bayaran kos LRSI, GCL TI dan kos pengurusan $155,382.84
Bayaran Cagaran $42,896.50
Bayaran Pengesahan Sempadan $2,144.82
The following questions cry out for answer:
Firstly, how the then Pahang Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, could approve forest concession to a person staying in a low-cost housing unit, and how this applicant could find the money to pay $260,424.16 for the 2,000-acre forest concession? Was Azmi a nominee for Datuk Seri Najib or someone else?
Secondly, when Azmi bin Daud made the application for the 2,000 acre forest concession in 21st July 1986, the Pahang State Assembly had already been dissolved for general elections to held, with nomination fixed for July 24 and polling on August 3,1986.
Datuk Seri Najib was a caretaker Mentri Besar of Pahang for the two weeks between dissolution of Asembly on July 19 and election of a new government on August 3. What right and authority had he to receive and approve application for a 2,000 acre forest concession during this care-taker period?
As Datuk Seri Najib was not re-contesting for a Pahnag State Assembly seat to serve another term as Pahang Mentri Besar, as he was returning to Federal Government, it is most improper for him to receive and approve the application for 2,000 acre forest concession during the caretaker period. Was this approval done with authority of the Executive Council, or solely on his own authority.
It is public knowledge that there is potential for great abuse of power at the State government level, especially during a caretaker government period by an outgoing Mentri Besar of Chief Minister, and I hope the Anti-Corruption Agency will get to the bottom of this issue.
Government turning on the oil tap to get 4% growth next year.
Another ‘first’ of the 1988 Budget is that the government will be turning on the oil tap to the maximum in the nation’s history to bring out 540,000 barrels per day, to get the 4% real GDP growth next year, as compared with a growth of 3 per cent in 1987. If the government does not turn on the oil tap to the maximum next year, the growth rate may be around 2 per cent next year.
I want to ask the Finance Minister why the government decided on a 4% growth next year. Is it to make Malaysia look good, when compared to the OECD countries, as the highest Real GDP Growth in 1988 is expected to be Japan estimated at 3.4%, followed by USA at 2.7%, West Germany 2.3%, United Kingdom 2.2% and France 1.8%.
Government should reverse the 17-year neglect and concentrate on attracting local investors.
The government should encourage the private sector to be the engine of growth instead of turning on the oil tap, and the dismal failure of the government in this direction should be the subject of a deep heart-searching by the Government. The Malaysian economy is still suffering from the sudden and sharp collapse in private investment since 1985.
Real private investment, which declined by 19.7 per cent in 1986, is expected to grow by 1.2 per cent this year and 2.1 per cent in 1988.
Finance Minister announced review of the company tax structure in the budget to make Malaysia “one of the most attractive places in this region for local and foreign investor.” Daim Zainuddin and the government do not seem to realise that the lack of investor confidence is not over specific tax, but because of the overall economic climate.
It has been estimated that there is a capital flight of around $3 to $3.5 billion a year, which Malaysians send abroad for investment or savings. A 1986 study by Morgan Guaranty Trust Company estimated that for the decade 1976-1985, capital flight from Malaysia totaled US$12 billion, or M$3 to M$3.3 billion per year.
Morgan Guaranty estimated that without capital flight, he US$20 billion foreign debt held by Malaysia at the end of 1985 would instead have been only US$4 billion.
The huge capital flight of Malaysian funds, which led to the heavy foreign borrowings by the country, is proof of the failure of the government to attract and maintain local investor confidence.
The government should reserve its 17-year neglect of local investors and concentrate in winning their confidence back, and persuading them to bring home substantial protion of the $40-$50 billion invested overseas since the start of the New Economic Policy.
What Dr. K.S. Jomo, University of Malaya economist, said in the Malaysian Business pre-Budget dialogue (October 1987) is pertinent in finding a solution to this problem:
“The government seems to have taken the view of giving up on domestic investments which means largely the Chinese community, and hoping for increased foreign investments to make up the shortfall due to reduced public investments. The record in the last couple of years has suggested that this hope has not been well founded. The investments have not been coming in and certainly have not compensated for the reduced public investments.
“What does it take to move domestic investments? I suspect economic incentives alone are not going to be enough. We really have to come to terms with the ethnic question in this country…… in other words, the problems are political as much as economic. It is not and exclusively economic problem.”
I hope no one will be quick in hurling charges of disloyalty on anyone who sends money abroad for greater or surer profits, for the government itself is doing this, not only in the case of PNB, but also with regard to the National Trust Fund which was passed by Parliament last wek.
NEP stifles private investment climate – Case of ‘Bumiputera Petrol Station’
The New Economic Policy is one of the causes which stifles the private investment climate. I will give one example.
In Ipoh, one Mr. Lim Ching Chong, had to give up the Lee Huat Services Mobil Station at Jalan Pasir Putih, Ipoh, which he had operated for 20 years, because the lease had expired.
Lim, who is the sole breadwinner, through the Mobil Dealers’ Association Malaysia, negotiated and got the agreement of Mobil Oil Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. To offer him a dealership to take over another Mobil station at Jalan Sultan Idris, Ipoh, which had closed down due to poor business.
However, when Mr. Lim Ching Chong applied to the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) Licence Board in the Ministy of Trade and Industry for the PDA Licence to operate the Mobil station, his application was rejected on the ground that the station was operated by two bumiputera companies previously and had ben classified by the Ministry as a Station with Bumiputera status.
The background of this Jalan Idris Mobil station are as follows:
The station was run by Chinese companies before 1975.
Because of poor business arising from its location, the two Chinese gave up their dealership.
It was later operated by a Bumiputra company named Raz Enterprise from 1976 to 1984.
From 1984 to 1985 it was taken over by another Bumiputra company named Anjuran Jaya Sdn. Bhd.
The station closed down in 1986 due to poor business.
Mobil Oil (M) Sdn. Bhd. Decided not to renew the lease with the landowner. The station was left idling since 1986.
The landowner also plans to use the land for other purposes.
No one, whether bumiputra or non-bumiputra, had applied for the station, apart from Mr. Lim Cheng Chong.
Under these circumstances, it is natural that Mr. Lim Cheng Chong feels particularly aggrieved that when he had got the agreement of Mobil to operate the Jalan Idris Mobil Station in place of the Jalan Pasir Puteh Mobil station whose lease had expired, the PDA Licence Board should reject his application on the ground of the New Economic Policy.
I understand that the 30% NEP bumiputra quota for petrol station dealership had been exceeded, and it is therefore unfair to deny Mr. Lim the dealership in the Jalan Idris Mobil station.
From 1983 to 1987, the number of non-bumiputra, dealers had dropped from 1,139 (or 84.4%) to 1,019 (or 62.8%) while bumiputra dealers had increased from 211 (or 15.6%) to 604 (or 37.2%).
It is these NEP injustices which stifle and discourage local investment, and I hope the Minister of Trade and Industry, Datin Rafidah Aziz, could rectify this problem.
Lowest real per capita income and highest unemployment rate for the whole decade.
The 1988 Budget are also ‘firsts’ in budgetting for the lowest real per capita income and highest
unemployment rate for the decade so far.
According to the Economic Report, GNP per capita fell from $4,867 in 1984 to $4,581 in 1985 and further to 4,088 in 1986. This means a fall of 16% between 1984 and 1986. Although the GNP per capita is estimated to improve by 3.2% to $4,220, it is still a far cry from the figure of 1984.
If the GNP per capita figures are adjusted for inflation, by deflating them against the Consumer Price Index, the 1987 GNP per capita income is some 13% below the 1980 level, making it the lowest real per capita for the decade so far. At the gloomy economic outlook, it does not look likely that the real income would be able to catch up with the 1980 figure for the decade, as it is unlikely that the last three years of the decade will see a recovery of the economy to the previous levels of economic growth in the 1970s.
The 1988 Budget will officially see a breakthrough of the total number of unemployed beyond the 600,000 figure, at 9.4 per cent, although it is disputed that the government’s figures are too conservative.
Unemployment rate can reach 12-13 per cent in 190, and if the problem of the million-odd illegal immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines is not resolved, and Malaysians displaced of their job opportunities, the total unemployed may touch a million figures by turn of the decade.
The government must think of innovative ways to resolve the problem of unemployment and poverty, and in particular, using the 2 million acres of idle land as a centerpiece of the government plan to reduce unemployment, where our unemployed youths can plant crops which will also earn incomes for the country.
Who will become the watchdog over the Bank Negara when it becomes a corporate player?
The 198 Budget is another ‘first’ in the government’s clear intention to raid Bank Negara to bolster up its financial position.
In the past, the Government had raided Petronas to bail out Bank Bumiputra and Bumiputra Malaysia Finance in the $2.5 billion BMF scandal. The Government also staged a raid on the EPF funds in 1985 to prop up the shares market, including the violation of the EPF Act to invest unlawfully in non-trustee stocks, as investing $18.86 million through the EPF Investment Panel in non-trustee stocks such as Bousteadco S’pore Ltd., First Allied Corporation Bhd. (FACB), Faber Merlin Malaysia Bhd., BTR, Parkway, Amalgamated Steel Mill and Federal Cables; and $31.95 million through EPF portforlio managers in non-trustee stocks like Dayapi Industries (M) Bhd., Sitt Tatt Bhd., Kian Joo Can Factory Bhd., Pilecon Engineering Bhd., Metroplex Bhd., Hongkong Tin Bhd., British American (M) Insurance Bhd.
Last week, despite vehement opposition from DAP, the government passed the National Trust Fund Bill which would enable the Finance Ministry to raid Petronas for diverse purposes, including propping up the stock market.
Now, the Government is to sell its holding of shares in Malaysia Airline System (MAS) and Malaysia International Shipping Corporation (MISC) to Bank Negara, with the Government’s stake in both corporations valued at more the $2billion. I do not know how by any stretch of imagination, this could be called privatization, as it is putting money from one pocket to another.
Over the past years, Bank Negara has taken over control of three commercial banks – United Asian Bank, Perwira Habib Bank and Sabah Bank, and more recently it took control of Supreme Finance Co.
With the acquisition of the Government’s stake in MAS and MISC, which may mark Bank Negara’s emergence as a new corporate player, the pertinent question is who is to be the watchdog over Bank Negara’s corporate deals?
When the watchdog becomes a participant, then a new watchdog is needed, and who is going to be this watchdog?
Why the $2.2 million compensation to Sri Angkasa for compensation for stoping the Jalan Ipoh toll plaza?
The Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, has announced that toll will not be imposed in Jalan Ipoh in the Kepong Interchange, the stopping of further work on the Jalan Ipoh toll plaza and a $2.2 million compensation to Seri Angkasa.
I have been told by people in the trade that the cost of work done on the Jalan Ipoh toll plaza is only around $300,000, definitely not exceeding $400,000, and there is no justification for a $2.2 million computer, which will be in the region of $1.5 million, but which has not been installed or delivered.
Furthermore, who authorised the work to begin on the Jalan Ipoh toll plaza, when in the original specifications for the Kepong Interchange privatization, there was no provision for a toll plaza at Jalan Ipoh in order to allow an alternative access to the residents in the area.
If work for the Jalan Ipoh toll plaza was given without proper authority, then the government should not bear any responsibility for the compensation. Incidentally, I understand that although motor-cyclists were originally exempted from having to pay toll in the privatization specification, the government had allowed Seri Angkasa to collect toll from motor-cyclists, and is also considering extending the concession period.
It is these inexplicable and unaccountable variations to original privatization contracts which give the privatization process a bad name, sacrificing public interests to the successful bidders.
I hope the Works Minister can give a satisfactory explanation.
Why is the Estimates providing for $1.65 billion loan for North-South Highway privatisation when Datuk Samy Vellu had promised to reduce the total government loan to a maximum of $750 million?
I have not wanted to speak on the North-South Highway privatisation, until I saw the provision of $1.65 billion provision in the Ministry of Works estimates.
I am surprised, and I want to ask Datuk Samy Vellu why the $1.65 billion provision for North-South Highway privatisation is still in the estimates, when during the meeting he had with DAP MPs on July 16, 1987, he announced that the Government’s total loan of $1.65 billion for the North-South Highway privatisation contract would be slashed to a maximum of $750 million.
The people of Malaysia are entitled to know whether he has gone back on his word, and if so, whether all the other terms which he said he would vary for the interest of the nation such as no extension of concession period from 25 years to 30 years, and that there would be no external risk guarantee by the government, have also been abandoned.
The contract for resurfacing of 100-mile Kuantan-Segamat Highway not by wat of open tender?
In this connection, I want to ask the Minister whether it is true that contract for resurfacing of the 100-mile Kuantan-Segamat Highway is being awarded without open tender, with the deadline on Nov.3 and that it will be given out at a price about $6-$8 million higher than JKR costing.
If this is true, I would ask the Minister to stop the selective tender process and awarded the work for resurfacing the Kuantan-Segamat Highway by way of open tender.
Call for a National Conference of Felda Setlers for three representatives to be elected from each scheme to discuss future policy and directions for 100,000 Felda settlers.
Recently, Felda has been in the news, not about the boasts of government officially about their Felda achievements, but complaints and grievances of Felda settlers in not getting a good deal. Felda is having a crisis 31 years after its formation.
Felda and the government should give serious attention to the complaints and grievances of the Felda settlers, and change their attitude that they know best what is good for the settlers.
Grass-roots democracy in Felda schemes is a very grave problem, for Felda settlers felt rightly aggrieved that after 20 years of labour and toil to be proud owners of their own plot of land, they find that they have been reduced to become labourers of Felda.
Felda settlers complain that Felda officials are high-handed in their attitude, and that they do not know why deductions are made ot the details of the deductions.
Felda has 12 supporting agencies having a total capital of $168 million and five joint-venture companies with a capital of $87 million. Felda settlers are supposed to have a share in these agencies and joint ventures through monthly deductions for the Felda Investment Co-operative, but the Felda settlers know nothing about such a Co-operative or how it operates. I am not sure there is such a co-operative in the best place, but Felda settler leaders are equally mystified.
Felda was formed 31 years ago to create independent and viable rural communities of individual landowners, but this original goal of Felda seem to have deviated from, where Felda is not prepared to release its total control over Felda schemes and the life of the settlers.
There must be the evolution and development of a system whereby the Felda settlers can participate in deciding their own life and affairs, instead of being dependent on the Felda officials, or the problems in the 300-odd Felda schemes involving 100,000 settlers with a total population of 60,000 people are going to multiply and become more acute.
For this reason, I propose that the Government convene a National Conference of Felda settlers with three representatives elected from each Felda settlement, to discuss problems, grievances and demands, and the future direction and policy fot the 100,000 Felda settlers.
The representatives to this Felda Convention must be democratically elected, directly by the Felda settlers, and not as at present, by ‘guided democracy’ for the election of Jawatan Kuasa Kemajuan Rancangan (JKKR), whereby the Felda Administration select one of two or three chosen by the settlers.
In this National Convention of Felda Settlers, the government and Felda must be frank and truthful about the three schemes of Felda settlement, individual land ownership, block system and share system, and how each system would eventually work out.
The Felda administration must respect the legitimate wishes of Felda settlers to individual titles, which they were promised as in Felda Taib Andak, and it is up to Felda officials to convince them of the virtues of joining a co-operative for replanting and other common management purpose.
Felda and the government should not treat the Felda settlers as if they are captive followers of UMNO, but as equal Malaysian citizens who have a right to free political choice as others.
In this connection, I commend the Deputy Land and Regional Development Minister, Khalid Yunus, for visiting and having a dialogue with the settlers of Felda Kota Gelangi Empat near Jerantut, on 24th Sept. 1987 to deal with their problems, and to arrange for a further meeting with the Pengarah Besar Felda, Datuk Alludin bin Hashim to resolve the outstanding claims of the settlers.
If the Deputy Minister and the Pengarah Besar Felda are able to get down to each Felda schemes to meet with the settlers to understand their problems, I have no doubt that this will go a long way to resolve the grievances and problem of the settlers.
Government must demonstrate that there is political stability and commitment to rule of law to ensure Malaysia achieve her economic potential.
Finally, I agree with the Finance Minister’s analysis of Malaysia’s economic potential, when he said:
“Our economy has the potential for better growth. We possess a rich natural resources base, a developed system of infrastructure, an educated manpower, and all the skills and talents that a modern economy requires. We have political stability. We also have a strong Government that has respect for the rule of law. These assets must be fully exploited to ensure that future Malaysians continue to live in peace and harmony.”
However, I do not agree with the government’s perception that there is political stability, a strong government committed to the rule of law. If the government can demonstrate that there is political stability, a strong government that has respect for the rule of law, then we would be able to achieve our economic potential.
Our greatest trouble is that we do not have political stability, as events of the past weeks and the next few days will illustrate, and there is doubt whether the government is fully committed to the rule of law and the cardinal constitutional principle of the Independence of the Judiciary.
It is for this reason that I had publicly called on the Prime Minister to clarify once and for all, that the government has no intention to sponsor or allow a motion from its own MPs to censure any judge, or to move any constitutional amendment affecting the position of the Judiciary. Any such move will gravely undermine Malaysia’s economic potential and investment climate, as it would immediately throw into doubt that sanctity of contract and the government’s commitment to the rule of law so important for foreign investors.