Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a May Day tea-party organized by the Malacca State DAP Labour Bureau held at its premises at 33A Jalan Munshi Abdullah on 1st May 1972 at 7.30 p.m.
DAP call on Government to restore to trade union officials the right to hold office in political parties
If the trade unions and workers are to liberate themselves from the host of restrictive and oppressive labour laws, which is one of the basic causes of labour weakness and exploitation in the country, then the trade unions and workers must work towards setting more pro-labour Members of Parliament elected.
It is Parliament which passes the anti-labour laws, and it is only in Parliament that these representative labour laws can be repealed and unmade.
Last year, the Alliance Government introduced a measure in Parliament which banned trade union officials from holding office in political parties. The aim of this reactionary legislation is to deny workers the political right to send trade union representatives into Parliament to fight for the labour cause and redress the balance presently greatly weighted in favour of capitalists and landed interest.
There is in the Malaysian Cabinet, not a single member who had any labour background. It is no wonder that the labour view is not represented in the Government.
The DAP calls for the repeal of the legislative ban on trade union officials from holding office in political parties, for trade union leaders should have the political right to work in the political field to achieve the undoing of the host of anti-labour laws in the country.
I am surprised that the NTUC seems to have accepted very meekly this ban on trade union leaders from active political leadership and other anti-labour laws. Apart from now and then making a statement or two, and making an appointment or two with the Minister of Labour and even the Prime Minister, they have no capability to mobilise their trade union membership to assert the basic political rights of the workers in Malaysia.
There is a crying need for the labour movement to evolve a more dynamic leadership with the stamina, ability and dedication to plan and execute a long-term plan for the mobilisation of the mass strength and solidarity of the workers to establish for the working class an honoured and respected place in Malaysian society.
In other countries, May Day is a day for workers to take ride of their dignified role and place in their country, while for Malaysian workers, it is a day to remember their indignity and suffering. All workers and their leaders and unions must resolve to work towards putting an end to this sorry state of affairs, when May Day will be celebrated by Malaysian workers proudly and as a paid public holiday.