The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today (6.8.68) issued the following statement:
More than 40 former workers of the Belata River Estate in Kerling, and their families, are picketing outside the offices of the National Land Finance Co-operative Society and the Malaysian Indian Congress in Jalan Brickfields in an effort to get back their old jobs.
The Belata River Estate was bought over from an European management by the National Land Finance Co-operative Society on July 18.
The first thing the Society did was to sack 160 of the 200 estate workers, although many of the 160 dismissed workers are shareholders of the Society, some of whom have even bought $12,000 worth of shares.
Instead of re-employing old workers, who are also Society shareholders, the Society recruited 40 new workers from outside Kerling. We understand the Society is now in the process of employing more workers from outside Kerling.
This is a shocking state of affairs, utterly indefensible, when it is borne in mind that the Society was launched by the Malaysian Indian Congress to help estate workers tide over the rainy day.
The Society is morally bound to re-employ old workers of the Estate. This is even more compelling morally, when it is considered that the majority of the workers had stayed in Kerling for over 40 years, and that they are also shareholders of the Society.
The Ministry of Labour should wake up from its inactivity, and immediately contact the President of the National Land Finance Co-operative Society, Tun V.T. Sambanthan, and order him to take back the old workers on moral and social grounds.
During the past years, during our trips round the country, my colleagues and I in the DAP have been flooded with a torrent of complaints about the activities of the National Land Finance Co-operative Society. These complaints were widespread and deeply-felt, and betrayed a complete lack of trust in the running of the Society.
Broadly, the complaints concerned the financial affairs of the Society, that only a small clique of people benefited from Society functions, while the majority of the shareholders don’t receive a single cent after paying thousands of dollars in buying shares.
As the shareholders are the tens of thousands of illiterate, low-income rubber tappers, who are least capable of protecting their own interest, the government is duty-bound to step in to ensure that there has been no abuse and misuse of life-long savings of the tappers.
The widespread distrust and lack of confidence in the activities of the Society warrant a public commission of inquiry into the activities of the Society.
The Society should welcome such an inquiry, because if it has nothing to hide, the inquiry will be an excellent opportunity for it to regain public confidence.
This is the best way to safeguard the interests of the illiterate and low-income rubber tappers. We urge the government not to allow the fact that the Society was sponsored by the MIC to deter it from doing the right thing – to see that the tens of thousands of illiterate and ignorant shareholders of the Society are protected against financial irregularities by appointing a commission of inquiry.
Audited on 2021-04-05