Fragmentation of estates

Press Statement: 5 Dec 1968

The DAP Candidates for Serdang State By-election and DAP organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement:

At long last, the Alliance government seemed to have woken up to the seriousness of the problem of fragmentation of estates, which over the years have thrown tens of thousands of workers out of employment.

Fragmentation of estates is a major social problem, and the Democratic Action Party, both inside parliament, through its M. P. for Bangsar, Mr.C. V. Devan Nair, and outside, have consistently pressed for legislation to control fragmentation to ensure that the interests and welfare of the workers are protected.

But the Alliance government had until now turned a deaf ear.

Four days ago, on December 1, 1968, at the first DAP Serdang by-election public rally at Salak South New Village, I announced the DAP’s Serdang by-election pledge, for Serdang constituency and for the country at large.

Point Nine called for “Legislation to control fragmentation of rubber estates, to ensure that no workers suffers as a result of it.”

I am glad that so soon after the DAP’s renewed campaign for legislation to control estate fragmentation, the Alliance has decided to act.

But the public cannot be blamed if their first reaction to the announcement by Tunku Abdul Razak yesterday was that it was a stunt for the Serdang by-election and the coming general elections.

Whether the proposed Alliance legislation will go to the root of the problem of fragmentation and check its adverse effects on the workers, is another problem entirely.

We know of so many Alliance legislation, which purport to benefit the workers and the public, which do not achieve their announced objectives. All that these legislation did was to permit the Alliance to make propaganda for itself.

For instance, we have the Minimum Standard of Housing Act, which purports to ensure that every worker will live in decent, sanitary and human quarters. But since the Act was passed more than two years ago, nothing has been done to implement the provisions of the Act. In fact, the government is most guilty in that many of its employees, particularly railway employees, live in unsanitary and quarters unfit for human beings.

We have the Industrial Relations Act, which purports to advance and protect the workers’ interests, but which in effect benefit the management in allowing them to take strong-armed and discriminatory actions against unions and unionists.

We want to be satisfied that the Alliance government is really interested in the welfare of workers affected by fragmentation, and is not merely embarking on a election stunt, either by passing legislation which will never be implement or having provisions which will give more loopholes to evade control of fragmentation.

The Alliance government can show its sincerity thus:

Over the year, tens of thousands of workers have been thrown out of jobs from the fragmentation of estates. It is the duty of the government to help these workers. The government must give land to every worker who had been a victim of fragmentation. The government can do this and make an announcement now, within twenty-four hours. If the Alliance government will do not do this, then it must be judged by the public as a party which do not have the workers’ interest at heart, but only its own election interest.

Audited by: Joyce T. and Faiz M.