Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Loke Yew Flats, Bungsar, on Wednesday, January 29, 1969 at 9.45p.m.
An open appeal to Mr. Khaw Khai Boh to spare hawkers from police and government harassment during Chinese New Year festive season
The government and the police have tended to regard and treat hawkers as anti-social elements, on the level with thieves and burglars, to be harassed and bullied whenever the occasion arises.
This is a wrong attitude, which should be abandoned immediately. Hawkers, licensed or unlicensed, are trying to make out a living for themselves and their dependants from hawking.
If they do not or are not allowed to hawk, they and their families will starve and suffer, and their children will not be able to go to school, be in good health and have decent environment to grow up into useful citizens of Malaysia.
Just as poverty is basically a social problem, which it is the responsibility of the government to solve, similarly the hawker problem is a social problem, which the government must handle with humanity and compassion.
Hawkers should never be treated by the government and the police on the level with thieves, pickpockets, robbers or house-breakers. It is not uncommon for the police to treat the hawkers very roughly. This must stop, and I hope the authorities concerned will issue a directive to all police constable to stop their rough, and at times bullying, treatment of hawkers.
Unless the government has a social conscience, and can temper its law with humanity, the dispossessed, the hawkers, squatters, etc., will regard the law as their enemy, from which they could expect only trouble and not assistance. This is undesirable development, as it will lead to growing contempt for the law, which has failed to respond to the needs and hardship of the people.
I propose that the government should give serious study to the hawker problem and to devise a humane solution to it.
We are now approaching the Chinese New Year festive season, when hawkers multiply in the Kuala Lumpur busy thoroughfares to ply their wares.
I hereby make an open appeal to the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Mr. Khaw Khai Boh, under whose Ministry the Kuala Lumpur Municipality comes under, to be lenient to hawkers during this festive season, and to immediately contact and instruct all the departments concerned, including the police, not to take any action against, harass or bully any hawker from now till after the Chinese New Year festive season, so long as the hawkers do not hold up traffic.
A government with human understanding will do this, and I hope Mr. Khaw Khai Boh and the police can act with human understanding on this matter.
I also appeal that the same leniency be extended to all hawkers throughout the country.