Speech by DAP Organising Secretary and Parliamentary Candidate for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the 5th DAP Public Rally at Tranquerah (Former Volunteer H.Q.) on Sunday, 20th April 1969 at 9p.m.:
Senator Ghaffar Baba has drawn up a master plan to disrupt the fish trade in West Malaysia, break the rice bowl of fish wholesalers, retailers and the fishermen, and raise the price of fish for the consumers.
This Federal Fish Marketing Scheme will be implemented after the May 10 General Elections, and will cause grave hardship to tens of thousands of fish-sellers, including their families.
Clauses 10 of the FAMA scheme provided that every fish-seller or retailer must possess a licence issued by the Fish Marketing Board, which will cost $10 a year. No one is allowed to sell fish without a license, or he will be fined $500. FAMA authorities said there are 3,685 licensed fish retailers in the country at the moment.
Firstly, what assurance is there at all these 3,695 licensed retailers will be granted licensed by Senator Ghaffar Baba, when they come up for renewal every year?
We know that one of the resolutions of the Second Bumiputra Economic congress held in Kuala Lumpur in September last year called for the bumiputra control of the fish trade.
Does this mean that year after year, less and less licences will be issued to the current holders and more and more to bumiputras?
Secondly, what is to become of the tens of thousands of unlicensed fish retailers in the country, those who go around in bicycles and even on foot? In Selangor State alone it is estimated that there are over 7,000 unlincensed retailers. Malacca State is estimated to have close to 2,000 unlicensed retailers of fish. Are they all to lose their means of livelihood and become beggars? None of them will be able to afford the $500 fine for selling fish without a licence! This is a social problem which the government must shoulder responsibility, by issuing them with licences at low rates. With mounting unemployment in the country, the government is duty-bound to look after these people, and not threaten them with $500 fine for their enterprise to scrape a living for themselves and their family by hawking fish without license.
Senator Ghaffar Baba Fish Marketing scheme also stipulates that retailers should place a deposit with the Fish Marketing Board a sum equivalent to the purchase price of the maximum amount of the fish the retailer would buy from the wholesalers, who are now controlled and managed by the Board.
No fish retailer could buy from the Board-controlled wholesaler to a value exceeding the amount deposited with the Board. The Board may require all purchase monies to be paid by the retailer within 24hours of the purchase. If this is not done, the Board will deduct the amount due from the deposit. The next day, the retailer will not be allowed to buy fish more than the value of the reduced deposit, unless he made good the diminished deposit.
This provision will completely dislocate the retail fish trade. Retail fish trade had traditionally been carried out on credit, both for purchases from the wholesaler and for sales to the consumer. To insist for a deposit to the maximum value of the fish, and for settle problems for the retailers.
Out of the 3,685 licensed retailers at present, not more than 50 per cent will be able to carry on retail trade on the terms laid down by the FAMA, unless the bumiputra Bank provide financial credit to the retailers. But will the Bank of Bumiputra provide financial aid and credit to non-bumiputra retailers?
This means that many of the present fish retailers will lose their means of livelihood, because they would not be allowed to buy fish from the Board-managed wholesaler without complying with the Boards terms and conditions.
The Minister without Portfolio, Senator Ghaffar Baba, is clearly trying to strangle the present fish business.
As a result of the publication of the proposed plan to introduce Fish Marketing Scheme, fishermen, fish traders, have unanimously opposed this scheme.
But we have not heard a word from the MCA, which is supposed to be champion of everything.
I want to know whether Mr. Koh Kim Leng, and all Alliance and MCA Candidates, will join the DAP in calling for the withdrawal of Senator Ghaffar Baba’s plan, because it is designed to strangle the present fish trade. There are many other unreasonable provisions in Senator Ghaffar Baba’s Fish master plan, which cannot benefit any section of the people, whether fishermen, fish traders, and consumers.
Senator Ghaffar Baba’s Fish Marketing Scheme is only understandable from the point of view of allowing bumiputra control of the fish trade.
May 10 is also the day, not only for the people to declare their support for racial, linguistic and cultural equality, but for them to register their protest at the growing attempt on the part of the Alliance to threaten the livelihood of the non-bumiputras in various economic spheres.