Lim Kit Siang replies to Mr. S.K.Lau, Political Secretary to the Minister of Local Government and Housing

The DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today (11.10.68) issued the following statement:

Mr. S.K. Lau’s long statement did not invalidate my calculation that at the building rate of the Ministry of Housing in its first four years of 1,500 units annually, it will take the Ministry 200 years just to clear the backlog of present housing needs.

Mr. S.K.Lau does not dispute this. All he did was to state that his Ministry built 6,301 in its first four years, from 1964 to 1967, and not in the first five years, from 1964 to 1968. Mr. Lau is right. Otherwise, at the average of 1,200 a year, the Housing Ministry will take close to 300 years to clear the backlog.

Mr. Lau does not disagree with my conservative estimate that the present back-log of housing needs is 330,000 units. How can Mr. Lau say that my calculation is ‘ridiculous and misleading’? Any Standard Six student will be able to tell Mr. Lau that 330,000 units divided by 1,500 units a year is more than 200 years!

I said in my statement before that if the building rate is increased to 10,000 a year, which the Alliance claim they are now doing, the Alliance will take over 30 years just to clear the backlog. But what of the population increase? What of the rural housing need as we are only considering the urban housing need?

Apparently, the government does not know whether in the first four years, it has completed 6,301 housing units. The Housing Minister, Mr. Khaw Khai Boh, gave the figure of 6,301 units in Parliament six weeks ago as units completed or expected to be completed by 1967. This is a ridiculous situation, when the Minister does not know in August 1968 how many houses have been completed by the end of 1967.

This is what I mean when I say that Mr. Khaw should spend more time in his Ministry instead of competing with his Cabinet colleagues as to who is a most-travelled Minister at public expense.

In 1965, Mr. Khaw Khai Boh complained that there was no national housing survey for his Ministry to formulate its housing plans. Today, four years after we are still without a national housing plan. Why? Again, if only Mr. Khaw Khai Boh had the imagination and industry to initiate a national housing plan, we will know more about our housing problems. But Mr. Khow is not interested in this. Mr. Lau will probably tell us that his Minister is more interested in conducting an international housing survey personally.

Mr. Lau accused the DAP of drawing inspiration from Singapore just because I suggested that Mr. Khaw and his Ministry officials could learn more from Singapore housing achievement instead of going frequently to exotic places like Paris.

I am not ashamed to admit that I admire Singapore’s housing achievement. The world admires it. I also confess that I admire the incorruptibility of the Singapore administration, which is also shared by the whole world. But Mr. Lau, Mr. Khaw and his Alliance colleagues don’t. This probably explains why there are so little housing activity by Mr Khaw, and so much corruption in Malaysia.

Mr. Lau claimed that Singapore conditions are not very relevant to Malaysian conditions. Of course, Mr. Lau believes that Parisian conditions are more relevant to Malaysian conditions. After all, Mr. Lau expects to visit Paris in the footsteps of his Minister.

Any objective observer of the housing record of Mr. Khaw Khai Boh will agree that Mr. Khaw has failed to solve the housing problem in Malaysia.

We in the DAP call for a stepped-up rate of low-cost housing building, to provide houses for the hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who don’t have decent homes and shelter.

Let us have some dynamism, planning and action, and less words, or overseas pleasure trips.

Secondly, the Ministry of Local Government and Housing should launch a national housing survey, to find out the national housing needs.

In the Chinese press, Mr. Lau resorted to some character assassination, by implying that I do not know Mandarin or Chinese. My challenge to Mr. Lau’s MCA President, Tun Tan Siew Sin, Vice President Tan Sri Dr. Lim Swee Aun, or even to his own Minister, Mr. Khaw Khai Boh, to debate in Mandarin, on any subject, at any place and any time, still stands.

Audited on 2021-03-05