DAP calls for New Economic Policy for New Villages

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Kampar on Saturday, 4th September 1971 at 8pm

DAP calls for New Economic Policy for New Villages

In Ipoh two days ago, the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, disclosed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has formed a new unit to assist new villages to obtain titles to the land they occupy. He also instructed district officers to help new villagers in this regard. The DAP welcomes this, for we had pressed for title to new villagers from the very formation of the DAP.

But this is a step which has been long overdue for two decades. When the people were resettled into new village 20 years ago, they should have been given title to the land they occupy, just as FELDO settles are given title to the land they occupy.

It is highly regrettable that this was not done for 20 years. It may be understandable, though not excusable, why the new villagers did not get title when they were first resettled, because it was the British colonialists who were then in charge of this country. As colonialists everywhere, they were not interested in the welfare and interests of the masses.

But it is highly deplorable that 14 years of Alliance rule after Independence did not bring a change of colonial policy although the government was formed by a partnership of the UMNO, MCA and MIC.

Now that the government has at last realized the right of new villagers to be land they occupy, I hope the grant of titles will be dealt with expeditiously. I hope it will not take another 20 years before all new villagers are finally given their title to their land.

In fact, to an efficient government, and out government claims now to be an ‘efficient’ one, there is no reason why within a year, all new villagers should not be granted their permanent land title.

The DAP shall be the watchdog for all new villagers, and shall, in the next 12 months, take up the case of all new villagers whose residents have not been given title.

For 20 years, the 500 new villages with 750,000 people in Malaysia have been left out of the mainstream of social and economic development and progress.

The people in the new villages have multiplied, and the government has done very little to relieve the population pressure on the new villages. Despite repeated applications, the government had refused to grant land for the landless in the new villages to eke out a living, whether land adjoining the new villages or elsewhere.

The Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, said that one million acres of land will be developed in the next five years under the Second Five-Year Plan. How many acres of these will be given to the landless and the poor in the 500 new villages in Malaysia?

It is no exaggeration to say that economically, the new villagers are decaying, with high rate of unemployment, low productivity and incomes, and very backward social facilities, as many new villagers do not have even piped water and electricity.

It these new villagers are not to degenerate into even more depressed and backward economic areas, then the government must take swift and positive action to save them from economic decay.

I therefore call on the government to adopt a New Economic Policy for the new villages, to develop them into flourishing new growth centres by modernizing their economy, and uplift the standards of living of the new villagers by increasing their productivity and incomes, dispersing to new villages industries to create new jobs, allocation of land for the landless, and the provision of modern social services, as public housing, electricity, water, medical services, improved educational opportunities and increased recreational and community services.

In this way, the new villagers can hope for a new life, and their villages will be new, not merely in name but in economic hope and future.

Another way new villagers can ensure that their villages are not left out cold in the mainstream of economic development is for them to unite, and form a National Association of New Villagers, whose task is to pool the strength of the 750,000 villagers in Malaysia to get a better deal from the government, whether on he economic, social, educational or cultural plane.