Parliament, China & Budget 1971

Statement by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference at DAP Kuala Lumpur Branch at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur, on Wednesday, 4th Nov. 1970 at 3p.m.

Convening and Official Opening of Parliament

A local press (Nanyang Siang Pao) reported todat that the official installation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be held on February 20 next year, and not February 16 as previously announced.

According to this report, the reconvening of Parliament, previously announced as to be on February 17, is now of uncertain date.

The DAP wishes to express its serious concern at this development, and urges the government to make a statement as to its plans with regard to the reconvening of Parliament as a result of the change of date for the official installation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to Feb. 20.

Parliamentary democracy is not a luxury for Malaysia, but a necessity, because of our multi-racial population. The best and only way to unite the multi-racial population of our country into one people is by donsent and reason, and not by coercion and compulsion.

The people’s hope and confidence in the ability of the democratic system to bring about the social and economic change and national progress they want by peaceful and non-violent means have suffered a great set-back as a result of the May 13 riots.

It is the task of all responsible political leaders to join forces to return to the people their hope in the ability of the democratic process to meet their needs and aspirations, and take the country onto the uplands of unity, prosperity, peace and harmony. Otherwise, they will turn to the politics of despair and violence.

Malaysia and China

The DAP welcomes Tun Ismail’s speech in the United Nations General Assembly on 15 Oct. 1970 which shows a realistic awareness of the importance of including China in the United Nations and in the mainstream of international activities.

As Tun Ismail said, the denial to a big power of its proper role cannot be conducive to the establishment of a stable and harmonious world order, and that China should be properly and fully represented in the United Nations and any world council of nations.

Just as it is short-sighted to exclude China from the world council of nations, it is equally short-sighted for Malaysia to try to ignore the existence of China and her influence and role in South East Asia.

Tun Ismail has also shown awareness of this, when he said that the neutralisation of South East Asia can only succeed if it is guaranteed by the big powers including China.

While the Malaysian government is showing greater realism in foreign affairs in her public pronouncements, this realism is still be to be matched by her action and deeds.

The relationship between China and Malaysia all these years is a history of distrust, suspicion and mutual hostility.

This is an abnormal and undesirable relationship, not conductive to the establishment of a stable and harmonious South East Asian region.
Whatever our likes or dislike, we in this part of the world have to live with China. This is a fact of international relations in our region which we must accept.

We should therefore seek to establish as normal and fruitful a relationship with Peking as possible.

We realize that such a relationship can only materialize from a two way effort. But we in Malaysia can take the first steps towards the normalization of relationship with Peking. Let us correct our past attitudes towards Peking by showing that we are desirous of being friends with Peking, and then it is up to Peking to respond.

We can take some concrete measures by:

1. Until the establishment of formal diplomatic relationship with Peking, establish informal bilateral contacts and lines of communication with Peking, to put across our viewpoints and ideas. With this informal relationship, we need not depend on a third country to transmit our views, as we are now hoping that Canada will do us the favour by explaining to Peking our views on the neutralization of South East Asia.

2. Allow the Bank of China to operate in Malaysia. This will underscore our desire to have commercial and economic relations with China, which will be beneficial to us as an increased purchase of rubber from China will be a great stimulant to Malaysian economy. This commercial and economic relationship will pave the way for a diplomatic relationship.

3. Relax travel restrictions between Malaysia and China.

4. Announce Malaysia dissociation from the American-sponsored World Anti-Communist League, which Malaysia, through the ruling Alliance Party, sponsored in forming some six years ago.

Ordinary Budget 1971

Tun Tan Siew Sin’s assurance that there would be ample opportunity to debate the basic financial and economic policies of the government is unsatisfactory, when the Parliament is not going to debate the 1971 Ordinary Budget.

The Budget debate, together with the debate on the Address from the Throne, are the two key functions of Parliament.

In the debate on the Ordinary Estimates of Expenditure, Member of Parliament will be able to examine, debate and scrutinize not only every
Ministerial and departmental estimate of expenditure, but to raise complaints, grievances, suggestions and expose the faults, failures and shortcomings of every department and Ministry for the past year.

In the other words, the debate on the Ordinary Budget is the grand inquest into the government’s stewardship of the country, and every Ministry and department has to account for their performance and results.

It is this debate which gives meaning to the cardinal principle in a democratic country, namely the government is the servant of the people and not masters of the people.

To deny Parliament the right to debate the Ordinary Estimates for 1971 is to deprive Parliament and the nation the right to inquire into the government’s stewardship of the country for the last 18months under Emergency Rule. Is there anything to hide?

The representation of the Ordinary Budget is normally accompanied by the government’s new taxation proposals. With the reconvening of Parliament in February as previously announced, there can be no case for imposing taxation Parliamentary approval.

Tun Tan Siew Sin has conceded that in the past, the government presented a budget in the early part of the new year. If this was done in the past, why can’t it be repeated for the 1971 Budget.

Tun Tan’s explanation that to allow Parliament to debate the Ordinary Budget would upset Parliament’s time table for other equally important issues, particularly the royal address, will not bear close examination.

Firstly, the Debate on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s speech took not more than five days in the past. Even if it means delay of two weeks, I do not think this is valid excuse to deprive Parliament of its basic right to be the national watchdog over the government’s finances.

Secondly, there is no other matter which is “equally important” as the 1971 Ordinary Budget.

As the government is presenting provisional development estimates, and present the full development estimates for debate by Parliament , this is added argument why the finance Minister should also only present provisional ordinary estimates to the NOC, and allow Parliament to debate the full 1971 Ordinary Budget.

A basic principle of parliamentary democracy is involved in this question. I hope the government leaders will not sacrifice basic principles of the
democratic process just to avoid having to justify their stewardship of the country for the past 18 months.