Call on the Government to stop neglecting and ignoring the plight of the estate labours in Malaysia

Message by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to the meeting of the DAP Estates Sub-Committee Meeting held in Ipoh on Sunday, 20th August 1972 at 10a.m.

Call on the Government to stop neglecting and ignoring the plight of the estate labours in Malaysia

The events of the past few days have further proved the government’s indifference and unconcern about the plight and suffering of the estate labourers and retrenched workers in Malaysia.

In the general review of the rubber industry, the government has no word or thought for the estate labourers, who had made great sacrifices in sweat, toil and blood to build up the rubber industry.

It is indeed a sad day for social justice in Malaysia. What is more saddening is that the MIC, which claims to be the champion of the Indians in Malaysia, has no time for the estate labourers either. The MIC leaders are too busy taking each other to court, then to champion the cause of the estate labourers. Of course, the MIC had never been the champion and guardian of the estate labourers. In fact, they are one of the exploiters of the estate labourers.

A good example is the National Land finance Co-operative Society, where there are a lot of abuses, malpractices and mismanagement. This is why I had called in Parliament for a government committee of inquiry into the affairs of the National Land Finance Co-operative Society to protect estate workers from being exploited and cheated by the big tycoons.

In the debate on the future of the rubber industry, the DAP was the only party which spoke out for the estate labourers. No other political party wanted to voice the suffering of the estate workers, particularly the retrenched labourers.

The DAP Estates Sub-Committee has, therefore, a great responsibility to arouse national consciousness and attention to the deep suffering of the estate labourers, their socio-economic, educational backwardness, and to seek redress.

I call on the government to stop neglecting and ignoring the estate labourers, but to set up a special department to look after the socio-economic upliftment of the life of estate labourers, and to help the tens of thousands of estate workers who had been retrenched.

In this condition, I must express my disappointed with the unco-operative attitude of the Minister of Labour and Manpower, Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, when I sought his help on behalf of the retrenched estate labourers. I had asked him to issue a directive to all estate managements to give priority of re-employment to their retrenched estate workers on the ground that they had been forbidden to do so by the Ministry of Labour, which had drawn their attention to their racial imbalance in employment in their establishment.

This is clearly against the spirit and letter of the Second Malaysia Plan which stated that no man will suffer any loss or deprivation in his job or earnings under the new economic policy.

I again call on Tan Sri Manickavasagam to issue this directive for the sake of protecting the livelihood and welfare of the tens of thousands of retrenched estate labourers in Malaysia.