Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to DAP members at the Sitiawan DAP Branch at Pekan Gurney, Sitiawan on Saturday, 4th March 1972 at 2 p.m. at the beginning of his two-day tour of the Sitiawan Parliamentary constituency
Warning to Dr. Lim Keng Yaik not to let down the hopes and expectations of the 900000 new villagers
My two-day visit to the Sitiawan Parliamentary Constituency is the fifth in my current tour of all DAP Parliamentary Constituency and State constituencies to (i) check on the constituency service of the DAP Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman for the area; (ii) visit DAP branches and meet party members to discuss party and political matters; and (iii) to meet a small cross-section of the general public to get their views on the DAP’s elected representatives in the area, the party and the nation’s problems.
The DAP is a serious political movement which is dedicated to the service of the people. The DAP is also a dynamic, constructive and creative Opposition party.
It is the DAP which aroused and awakened national and government attention to the plight and poverty of the 900000 forgotten new villagers in Malaysia.
Until the DAP launched a nation-wide campaign to champion the cause and right of the 900000 new villagers in September last year, no political party had bothered to voice the suffering and miseries of the new villagers, who had for 20 years been left out of the mainstream of national economic development.
The DAP formed a National New Villagers Sub-Committee and within a short time, succeeded in its basic objective to bring the issue of the 900000 new villagers to the centre of national attention and concern.
In fact, the DAP was so successful in pressing the cause of the 900000 new villagers that the Government was compelled, though with great reluctance, to appoint a new Minister specially charged to look after new villages. As early as 21st September last, I had written to the Prime Minister urging the establishment of a special government department to uplift the livelihood of the new villagers.
This is an example of what a dynamic, constructive and creative Opposition can do for the people and the poor.
Having succeeded in arousing national and government attention to the plight and poverty of the 900000 new villagers, the task of the DAP and the DAP National New Villages Sub-Committee has not ended.
Our second task is to see to it that the government translates this national concern into positive and concrete action to abolish new village poverty and backwardness and make up for the government’s 20-year neglect.
We in the DAP will not allow the Alliance Government to appoint a Minister for New Villagers for merely propaganda reasons, without any real change of heart to uplift the living standards of the 900000 new villagers.
It is for this reason that I must confess to a growing disappointment with the performance of Dr. Lim Keng Yaik. I agree that two months is not a long time, but in these two months, Dr. Lim seem more interested in making highly-publicised tours of the new villages and speechifying rather than coming to grips with the basic problems of new village poverty and backwardness.
For the sake of the 900000 new villagers, I want Dr. Lim Keng Yaik to succeed. I must warn him however not to disappoint and let down the hopes and expectations of the 900000 new villagers who had suffered 20 years of neglect.
The two basic things which the new villagers want are land and employment. If the government is sincere in wanting to help the 900000 new villagers, I do not think land should be a difficult problem. It can be easily solved by (a) giving titles at cheap, easy-to-pay terms to the new villagers; and (b) opening up new land and distribute them to the land-hungry new villagers. The crux of the matter here is whether the government is genuinely sincere in wanting to solve the land hunger of the new villagers.
To create jobs for the new villagers to stop and cut down the high rate of new village unemployment, the government should draw up a scheme to transform the new villages into new economic growth centres through the infusion of government funds and capital.
The tackling of these two problems of land and jobs is more urgent and basic, and should be top on Dr. Lim’s agenda instead of his present highly-publicised tour of new villagers without solving any basic problems.
My colleague, the Chairman of the DAP National New Villages Sub-Committee, Sdr. Yap Pian Hon, who is also Selangor State assemblyman for Serdang, has written to Dr. Lim to suggest the calling of a conference of representatives of all new villages in Malaysia to discuss their common problems and needs. I do not understand why Dr. Lim has not acted on such a good suggestion.
The 900000 new villagers have been neglected for two decades, and they want results and not propaganda. I would therefore advise Dr. Lim to get his priorities right, and to concentrate on getting land and jobs for the new villagers before anything else.