DAP pledge to do all it can to champion the cause and right of Jalan Petaling hawkers

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a meeting of Jalan Petaling hawkers held at DAP Bungsar Office at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 25th July 1972 at 10 a.m.

DAP pledge to do all it can to champion the cause and right of Jalan Petaling hawkers

First of all, I wish to thank the Jalan Petaling hawkers for attending this meeting which we have called to find a permanent and satisfactory solution to their problems and livelihood.

Secondly, I wish on behalf of the DAP to apologise to the Jalan Petaling hawkers for the indifference and the disinterestedness which the former DAP Member of Parliament for Bungsar, Goh Hock Guan, had shown to their suffering and hardships.

The DAP Central Executive Committee had received numerous complaints against Goh Hock Guan for his utter neglect and unconcern of the plight of the Jalan Petaling hawkers, who were being persecuted and harassed by the City Hall’s Greenshirts, but to Goh Hock Guan these problems of ‘hawkers’ and ‘squatters’ were too small and beneath the status of a ‘born leader’ to be involved with.

Sdr. Lau Dak Kee, when political secretary to Goh Hock Guan, had tried his best to help the hawkers, but it is clearly impossible for him to bring about any long-term solution to the problem of the Jalan Petaling hawkers when the Member of Parliament for the area concerned was completely not interested in it.

The DAP can give this undertaking to the people of Bungsar that although we have expelled Goh Hock Guan from the Party, and technically speaking, we have no more M.P. or State Assemblyman in Bungsar constituency, we will not shirk our responsibility and duty to the people of Bungsar who have so solidly and warmly given their support to the DAP.

This is why we have made arrangements to have the Bungsar office to be manned to served the people of Bungsar by the DAP State Assemblyman for Bukit Nanas, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, the DAP State Assemblyman for Serdang, Sdr.Yap Pian Hon and the DAP Assistant National Organising Secretary, Sdr. Lau Dak Kee.

This is why we have called this meeting to try to find a satisfactory and permanent solution to the problem of Jalan Petaling hawkers.

The problem of the Jalan Petaling hawkers had been a long-standing one. But with goodwill, particularly on the part of the Government, and resolution, I believe it is possible to find a satisfactory solution.

Sdr. Lee Lam Thye’s great work on behalf of the Bukit Bintang hawkers is a good example. Indeed, it is so obvious to all in Kuala Lumpur that Goh Hock Guan not only could not get for the Jalan Petaling hawkers that Sdr. Lee Lam Thye has succeeded for the Bukit Bintang hawkers, but he was never really bothered to try.

The DAP has always held that the hawkers of Malaysia must never to be treated as criminal or wrongdoers by the authorities but as Malaysians who are trying to make a honest means of livelihood who deserve government support and aid, and not persecution or harassment.

Malaysia has a very high rate of unemployment, with the urban rate exceeding over 10%. Hawking is not only a decent and respectable means of making a living, it has become one of the few ways of making a living with the high unemployment rate.

The Government declared that one of the two-pronged policies of the Second Malaysia Plan is to ‘reduce and eventually eradicate poverty, by raising income levels and increasing employment opportunities for all Malaysians, irrespective of race.

By persecuting and harassing hawkers, the government is violating this cardinal objectives of the Second Malaysia Plan, for in forcing hawkers out their means of livelihood, the government is in fact increasing poverty, lowering and eliminating incomes of hawkers, and decreasing employment opportunities. It is forcing the hawkers into the world of crime out of want and desperation, which is highly heartless and irresponsible.

I therefore call on the Government and the Minister of Local Government, Dato Ong Kee Hui, to be guided by the first prong of the Second Malaysia Plan to reduce poverty, increase income levels and increase employment opportunities when handing the hawkers problem in general, and in Jalan Petaling in particular.

If this declared objective of the Second Malaysia Plan is the spirit of the government’s approach to Jalan Petaling hawkers’ problem, then I believe the government can achieve a satisfactory solution. For such a solution must see to it that no hawker is made to suffer any reduction or deprivation incomes and earnings.

The DAP therefore calls on the Government to honour its pledge under the Second Malaysia Plan that it would seek to help in the poor, regardless of race, and prove it in the Jalan Petaling hawkers case.

The hawkers of Jalan Petaling had been leading an unsettled and insecure livelihood for decades, and they deserve better from the government. This is why in coming meeting of Parliament beginning on August 8, I have given notice to ask the Minister of The Local Government, Dato Ong Kee Hui, the following question:

“To ask the Minister of Local Government what steps his Ministry is taking to give licence to all the unlicensed hawkers in Jalan Petaling, who had been peddling their trade for decades, so that they would not be continually harassed and persecuted by the Enforcement Squad of the Kuala Lumpur Municipality.”

We have called for this meeting to get your views as to the solution to your problem and livelihood. My colleagues, like Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, Sdr. Lau Dak Kee, Sdr. Yap Pian Hon and Sdr. Hor Cheok Foon, and I will do all we can to take up your cause at all levels of government, for we believe passionately that a government of the people must be a government which has a conscience and feeling for the suffering of the poor, and can solve their problems by decreasing their problems by decreasing by their hardship and not increasing them.