DAP calls on Government to include new villagers and retrenched estate labourers in governmental developmental programmes

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at the Dewan Rakyat in the debate over the 1972. Supplementary Development Estimates which was passed by Dewan Rakyat on 10th August 1972

DAP calls on Government to include new villagers and retrenched estate labourers in governmental developmental programmes

I wish to refer to only a few sub-heads. The first one is in connection with the Johore Tenggara project, which is one of the massive projects of the Government in pursuit of its Second Malaysia Plan in order to eliminate poverty regardless of race. I would like here to urge on the Government to translate this profession from just mere lip service to concrete results because there is a need, from the past one or two years’ operation, for the people to be convinced that the poor are going to be helped, not merely in pronouncements and platitudes, but in deeds, actions and results.

I would urge that in the Johore Tenggara project, there would be provision for the assistance or the upliftment of the poor of all races especially in the settlement of the land-hungry new villagers and the land-hungry retrenched estate labourers in the land schemes there.

I would like here to clarify and rebut the allegation just now from the Member of Parliament for Segamat Utara and the Chairman of Felda, that the DAP is only concerned with the estate labourers and with the new villagers. We are concerned with the poor of all races and that was why I had urged yesterday that special assistance should be given to the Felda settlers. We are glad that the Government has now conceded and admitted that the Felda settlers do not have a clean income of more than $100 a month in many cases, and they have to make special provisions, where it is less than $70, not to deduct repayments. I would urge the Minister of Agriculture, who yesterday agreed to consider my suggestion that the Felda settler is less than $150, to do so so that every Felda settler will get a clean income of $150.

The next item is in regard to housing. There is no doubt that housing is in an area which has been most neglected under the Second Malaysia Plan. There are slums throughout the country and we had thought that when housing portfolio was brought under the Deputy Prime Minister that we would see a more dynamic, a more purposive approach to break the back of this problem. Instead the housing problem is not being solved at all.

In Kuala Lumpur, for instance, and in Selangor, we see large slums where people do not enjoy of the seriousness and the gravity of this problem, because housing is one of the basic needs of every Malaysian and every human being, that the Government should have a special study into the housing problem of the people in Selangor and throughout the country and come out with a real and concrete housing policy.

There is no doubt that there is no housing policy in Malaysia.

In connection with housing, where land is being acquired as in this case, invariably we find squatters being evicted. But unfortunately there is no compassionate treatment of the grave problem of squatters, and I would urge the Government to lay down a squatter policy whereby no squatter will be thrown out his house, unless there is alternative accommodation or provision, because this must be treated basically as a human and social problem and not, as of now, basically as an administrative problem.

Television programmes
On the other matter of television, we have here a request for more votes for radio and television service. I would just want to mention in passing that there is a need to review the entire radio and television transmission policy. I am sure that the Ministry of Information is not unaware of the widespread unhappiness and dissatisfaction among the viewers especially among the Chinese and the Indian communities for more and better television programmes – more Indian television programmes and more Chinese television programmes – because they are part of Malaysian society. I think this urgently need to be rectified.

Water Crisis
Here there is a provision for water projects. I think there is a need for the Government to show that they can really plan. We have the Second Malaysia Plan with all its many promises and before that, we had two previous Five-Year Plans and invariably, we find in small things like planning for water needs, there is such a great failure.

Today, in many parts of the country, we are facing droughts. In Penang even, for the first time under the Coalition and Gerakan Government, the people have been threatened with water rationing. Of course, the Chief Minister says there is going to be an increase in the water capacity in future. But the question is now. The question of planning must mean the ability to anticipate, to project needs and meet them. But then, under the Coalition Government of Penang, not only are the people suffering without water, even the animals are suffering and this is probably why you have ‘swine fever’ in Penang now.

I would give another instance. It may be argued that the present water scarcity is caused by a dry spell. Look at Batu Pahat in Johore. For 15 months, the people of Batu Pahat have had to undergo 12-hour water rationing. When the people of Batu Pahat initially underwent water rationing, they were told it was because of the dry spell. But for the last 15 months, for 12 hours a day, water has been cut and probably the people of Batu Pahat would have to live with this inconveniences for the next two or three years-just because of poor planning. If in such a small thing as water planning, the government could fail so badly and miserably, no wonder there is so much doubt, anxiety and uncertainty about the possibility of the Second Malaysian Plan being fulfilled. All that the Second Malaysia Plan seems capable of doing is to lay a very beautiful plan on paper, but I do not see realization if such a small thing as water planning could not be properly programmed.