Speech by DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the Dewan Ra’ayat during the debate on the Second Supplementary Development Estimates for 1971 on Thursday, 9th December 1971
One result of the government ban on the import of China-made goods through other countries which came into effect on 21st October 1971 is the general increase in the prices of China-made goods by about 15 per cent.
China-made goods are cheap compared to other goods, and have been one of the mainstays of the poor in meeting growing economic hardships.
The general increase in the price of China-made goods as a result of the ban on import of China-made goods through Hong Kong or Singapore has added to the economic hardships and sufferings of the poor, at the time when they are plagued by mounting unemployment, collapsing price of rubber, and the general increase in the cost of living.
The consumers of Malaysia are becoming one of the most exploited classes in the country. The government has shown no concern for their problems and grievances, and seems more interested in creating a new small class of the new rich at the expense of the toiling masses.
The question is looming bigger and bigger whether PERNAS is no more than an instrument to help the enrichment of a small group of Malays at the expense of the ordinary masses, of all races. If this is so, then PERNAS will not make any contribution to the solution of the problem of Malay poverty. It will only aggravate the entire problem of general poverty.
The ban on the import of China-made goods through other countries has caused a crisis in the field of Chinese medicine in Malaysia.
Malaysians have traditionally received their Chinese medical supplies from Hong Kong or Singapore because of the special characteristics of the trade.
Firstly, China only exports raw materials, whereas Malaysia needs processed Chinese medical supply. This processing can at present only be done in Hong Kong or Singapore.
Secondly, Malaysians can only get a steady supply of Chinese medical requirements from either Hong Kong or Singapore, as China only does trade during the Spring and Autumn seasons.
If the government should inflexibly impose its ban on import of China-made goods through other countries, then the supply of Chinese medicine will shrivel, and the entire profession and practice of Chinese medicine in Malaysia will suffer a grave blow.
This will add another hardship to the poor, many of whom from all races are treated by Chinese physicians for their ills and diseases.
I do not know why such a simple, straightforward case for the relaxation of the government ban, and allow the continued import of Chinese medical supply through Hong Kong or Singapore should not be heeded and accepted by the Government.
I call on the government to give an assurance in this House that because of the special characteristics of the trade, Malaysian traders can continue to import Chinese medical supplies through Hong Kong or Singapore.