A Challenge to Mr. Khaw Khai Boh

Speech by DAP Organising Secretary, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Ipoh Road, 4 ½ m.s., Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 21st March 1969 at 9 p.m.

In his speech at Kampong Lompang two days ago, the Minister for Local Government and Housing, Mr. Khaw Kai Boh, asked the DAP to explain its language stand.

Mr. Khaw wanted to know why the DAP was opposed to the Alliance Putting up multi-lingual propaganda on top of the multi-storey Circular Road housing flats, when the DAP claimed that it was fighting for equal use and status of the four languages.

I had not expected Mr. Khaw Kai Boh to be so naïve. What the DAP objected to was not the four languages bring used on the Circular Road housing blocks, but to the blatant Alliance propaganda on public housing flats, as the words were: “Another Alliance low-cost housing achievement.”

In the first place, the Circular Road housing flats are not ‘low-costs’ ones. They are high-cost flats.

In the second place, it is wrong to put party propaganda on public buildings. Otherwise, we will soon be reading of advertisements like: “Another Alliance drain”, “another Alliance public telephone booth” etc, creating eye-sores in all our towns.

We understand why Mr. Khaw wants to do this. Since his tenure as Housing Minister, he has built so few houses that he had to advertise every housing unit as a great achievement, in the hope of covering up his Ministry’s inefficiency, incompetence and utter failure to solve the housing problem of Malaysians.

In fact, there appears to be more advertisements about the so-called housing achievements of Mr. Khaw Kai Boh throughout the country, than the actual houses themselves!

Mr. Khaw has only himself to blame for the Alliance and his Dismal housing failure. He Might have done better, if he had paid more attention to his Ministry’s work, instead of competing with his Ministerial colleagues to see who goes abroad more often and longest, and instead of leading woman basketball teams overseas. (And up to today, I cannot understand why a male Cabinet Minister has nothing more important to do than to lead woman basketball teams aboard.)

What we are opposed to therefore, is the scrawling of Alliance propaganda on public housing flats.

And it is because it is Alliance propaganda that the Alliance permits the use of four languages, so that people of all languages can get the Alliance message.

But if it is a question of having Chinese on public notices, roads and railway stations for the convenience of those who know only Chinese, the Alliance and the MCA are opposed to it.

We remember that in October last year, the Federation of Cantonese Associations in Malaysia urged the government to use Chinese on public roads and railway stations for the convenience of those who know only Chinese.

What did Mr.Khaw Kai Boh do? Did he champion this call for equal use of four languages? No. The Alliance government refused, and a government spokesman explained that the National Language Act passed in 1967 stipulated that “the other languages could only be used in exceptional cases where the public interest is concerned, as in important government notices.”

Apparently, boasting the alliance achievement qualifies as ‘important government notice’, but announcements, information and notices on roads, public places and railway stations do not.

Because the general elections is around the corner, Mr. Khaw Kai Boh is trying to deceive the people into believing that the Alliance does not oppose the use of the four languages on public notices.

I hereby challenge Mr. Khaw Kai Boh to do one simple thing. If he cannot do this, then he must henceforth shut his mouth about the government’s equal treatment to the four languages. And it is this:

He should use all four languages, including Chinese, on the signboard outside his Ministry and the Ministries of all his Cabinet colleagues, which state what Ministries they are.

This is a simple thing. But can Mr. Khaw Kai Boh do this?