Call on all Malaysian fishermen’s associations, unions, co-operative societies and other organizations to prepare memorandum

Speech by Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when speaking at a meeting of the DAP Malacca State Sub-Committee on Tuesday, 29th August 1972 at 7 p.m.

Call on all Malaysian fishermen’s associations, unions, co-operative societies and other organizations to prepare memorandum to the Minister of Defence, Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Home Affairs about the entire problem of piracy of Malaysian fishermen in high seas

During the recent session of Parliament early this month, my colleagues and I in the DAP had highlighted the plight of Malaysian fishermen in the high seas, who were the victims of armed uniformed pirates from the Indonesian navy.

Malaysian fishermen, especially those in Malacca and in Pulau Pangkor, have been forced inshore for fear of being victimized by the Indonesian armed uniformed pirates, and have their fishing gear, boats, catches and other properties seized, and sometimes even the loss of lives.

The Minister of Home Affairs, Tun Dr. Ismail, in answer to a supplementary question, had admitted that the Malaysia Government was aware that the many of these pirates were uniformed armed personnel of the Indonesian navy.

The Government, however, declined to take very serious notice of this problem, on the ground that there are very few insiders of piracy. Tun Dr. Ismail said this year alone, there were only 14 incidents of piracy. The Deputy Defence Minister, Tengku Rithaudeen, announced that over the years, the incidence of piracy had actually declined.

These official figures of reported incidents of piracy do not represent the actual state of affairs. Piracy of Malaysian fishermen had actually increased by leaps and bounds.

The majority of Malaysian fishermen who have fallen victims to Indonesian armed piracy had not wanted to report to the Malaysian Marine, because from past experience, they had found that they could not get any assistance, compensation or settlement from the Malaysian authorities. On the contrary, they are likely to be scolded and reprimanded by the Malaysian police for getting involved with the Indonesian pirates.

The reluctance of the Malaysian fishermen to report incidence of piracy to the Malaysian marine, however, has now given the Malaysian government an excuse for not taking any serious view of this problem-on the ground that the reported incidence of piracy is on the decline, and only a handful a year.

I therefore call on all fishermen’s associations, co-operative societies, unions and other organizations to prepare detailed memorandum of the problem of piracy of Malaysian fishermen the high seas over the past few years to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Fisheries, so that the government could not adopt the attitude that there is no grave problem of piracy in the Straits of Malacca.

If the fishermen, through their associations, co-operative societies, unions and other organizations, make official representations to the government authorities through the press, then the Ministers would not be able to pretend that the piracy of Malaysian fishermen is very small problem.

The Government is duty-bound to protect the property and lives of Malaysian fishermen, who went out to the high seas to make a living.

One reason why fish in the market cost very high price is the lawless piracy in the high seas, forcing Malaysian fishermen inshore. The rise in the price of fish arising from such fish scarcity has caused great hardship to the poor and ordinary consumers, as fish is a important protein food. In fact, the situation has been reached where fish is more expensive than meat.

The Malaysian Government must vigorously protect the interest of Malaysian fishermen, and hold talks with the Indonesian authorities to check and put a stop to the piracy of Malaysian fishermen by armed uniformed Indonesian naval personnel.