Speech by DAP Malacca State Chairman and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr Lim Kit Siang, when he officially opened the Jimah DAP Branch at 10 Sungei Nipah, Chuah, Port Dickson, on Sunday, 12th September 1971 at 2pm
DAP call for establishment of special government department to promote economic growth and development of new villages in Malaysia
For the last one year, inside and outside Parliament, over the press, radio and television, Malaysians were subject to ceaseless publicity and propaganda about the Second Malaysia Five Year Plan, how it would change the economy of the country, abolish poverty, create jobs and give a new hope and life to the poor and downtrodden in the country.
However, to one great group of Malaysians, all these publicity and propaganda do not make much of an impression or impact.
These are the 750,000 new villagers in Malaysia. For the last 20 years, after their compulsory resettlement by the British colonialists, they have seen economic development and progress passed them by. For two decades, the new villagers have been excluded from the mainstream of economic growth and expansion.
Five years ago in 1966, when the government launched the First Five-Year Malaysia Plan. Malaysians were also promised that the poor and the needy will be able to lead a better and more fulfilling life at the end of the Plan period in 1970.
During the First Five Year Plan, $9,000 million was spent in public and private development of the economy, and 500,000 acres of new land developed.
But these data and figures mean nothing to the 750,000 new villagers, as the country’s hundreds of new villages did not receive any significant development funds under the First Five Year Plan.
The new villages continued their economic decay, with high rate of unemployment, low productivity and incomes, very backward social amenities as many of them do not even have piped water and electricity.
The population in the new villages multiplied over the last 20 years, without corresponding enlargement of the territory of the new villages, as the government consistently refused to give land to the landless in the new villages in adjoining areas for them to eke out a livelihood.
Unemployment in new villages was particularly acute, as they could not attract new forms of economic activity, as industries.
In these twenty years, they new villagers were not even given title to the land they occupied.
As a result of this long-standing neglect of the wellbeing of the new villagers, the 750,000 new villagers have become very skeptical of government promises of development,
This is why to them, the Second Malaysia Plan, which is to involve total expenditure of $14,000 million in the next five years, and the opening up of a million acre of land, has no meaning, for they have never benefitted from government development programme.
The DAP calls on the government to immediately put a stop to its policy of economic neglect of the new villages, to check their economic drift, decay and death.
The government should draw up a blueprint to revive the economy of new villages, and develop them into flourishing new growth centres by modernizing their economy, the raising of their productivity and incomes, the generation of new employment opportunities through dispersal of industries to new villages, allocation of land for the landless, and the provision of modern social services as public housing, electricity, water, medical services, improved educational opportunities and recreational and community services.
To do this seriously and efficiently, I call on the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, to set up a special government department or agency to be in charge of the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes which will transform the new villages into a genuine dynamic force for agricultural and economic development.
It is only in this manner, by giving the new villagers a socially just and economically equitable deal that the government can get the 750,000 new villagers to fully participate in the economic and national growth and aspirations of the country.
The recent announcement by the Prime Minister, Tun Razak, that the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has formed a new unit to assist new villagers to obtain titles to the land they occupy is a step in the right direction. This is something which should have been done 20 years ago during the original settlement, and I hope it will not take another decade before titles are given to all new villagers.
I call on the government to simplify procedures for the granting of tiles, and that no attempt should be made to demand exorbitant fees from the new villages in exchange for title.
But the granting of tile is not enough, and will not check the economic drift, decay and death of new villages. A comprehensive economic revival programme as stated earlier is required.
For this purpose, a National Association of New Villagers can play a vital role in promoting the economic revival of new villages. The Association of New Villagers, which should be above party politics, should have as it sole aim to secure fullest government commitment to modernize new village life, and the largest possible allocation of public development funds for this purpose.
Such an Association is particularly necessary with the imminent abolition of elected local councils, as the new villagers will otherwise lose vehicles where their voices and wishes can be heard.
In conclusion, I call on Tun Razak to convince the 750,000 mew villagers that in the Second Malaysia Plan, the economic development of the new villages will be given topmost priority, and to match his words with concrete deeds.