Why the country and people need a strong and dedicated opposition party in Parliament

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election public rally at Tampin New Village on 28th June 1972 at 9 p.m.

Why the country and people need a strong and dedicated opposition party in Parliament

The DAP has, over the last one year, demonstrated what a strong and dedicated Opposition Party in Parliament can do for the people.

For over 20 years, the 900,000 people in the 400-odd new villages in Malaysia had been neglected. They were starved of development funds, had no adequate health, social and educational facilities, no job opportunities for their youths, and were generally left to decay and die.

The government and the ruling parties continued to ignore the aggravating problems of the 900,000 new villagers, as with passing year, the population increase, accompanied by increase in social and human problems.

Less than a year ago, the DAP made a study of the plight of the 900,000 new villagers in the country, who were generally, landless, homeless and jobless. The DAP decided to launch a nation-wide campaign to champion the cause and right of the 900,000 new villagers in Malaysia to be looked after and cared for by the Government, to receive ample development funds to transform the new villages into thriving economic centres, and for land to be given to the landless at cheap rates.

At first the Government and the Alliance and MCA tried to deny that there was any problem at all concerning the 900,000 new villagers, but as the DAP’s nation-wide campaign gathered momentum, and we used every opportunity to highlight and publicise this problem, whether at party meetings, public rallies, State Assemblies and the Parliament, the Government was forced to admit that the new villagers were a dispossessed lot which deserve governmental attention.

As a result of the DAP campaign for the new villagers, the Prime Minister appointed a new Minister of Special Functions in charge of new villages , Dr. Lim Keng Yaik.

This was the first victory of the DAP campaign for the plight and suffering of the 900,000 new villages. But the battle has not ended. For while we have forced the Alliance Government to publicly concede that the new villages is an economic problem , the Alliance Government has not changed its heart in wanting genuinely to uplift the economic and social standards of living of the 900,000 new villages. What is it doing now is merely paying lip-service.

This is vividly amply illustrated by the complete failure on the part of Dr. Lim Keng Yaik to do a single thing for the 900,000 new villagers, despite his highly-publicised tours and his speeches and statements.

Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has neither the power nor the money to do anything for the 900,000 new villagers, but only to be a highly-paid postman to transmit the views of the new villagers. He is only a show-case of the Alliance, to bluff the people that the new villagers’ problems are being looked after.

Having forced the Government to concede publicly that the suffering of the 900,000 new villagers for 20 years is a national problem, the DAP will now press on our campaign to get the Alliance Government to release funds for the development of the new villages, and to draw up a master-plan to give land, jobs and homes to all new villagers in the country.

This is one illustration of what a strong and dedicated Opposition Party in Parliament can do. Without the DAP, the 900,000 new villagers will continue to be a forgotten lot.

In the same way, the DAP will be the conscience and guardian of the wellbeing of the people, regardless of race, language or religion. We will fight, not only for the 900,000 new villagers, but also for the estate labourers in the country, the poor peasants and fisherman in the kampongs, against corruption in high public and government level, the inefficiency and discourtesy of government servants, etc. We will also speak out against the high unemployment in the country, the high level of taxes which is making the poor poorer and the rich richer, the poor standard of education which is turning out a new generation of half-educated and even uneducated youngsters, etc.

The DAP has proved that it is a Opposition party which is not afraid to speak out the people’s deepest hopes and fears. The last one week has proved that we will continue to be a fearless spokesman of the small man, whether in the towns, new villages, estates or kampongs.

A victory for the DAP in Rembau-Tampin Parliamentary by-election, which is a stronghold of the Alliance, will increase the voices of the poor, the suffering , in Parliament so that they can have a brighter hope that their views and hopes can be more loudly heard and achieved earlier.