Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Sungei Siput on Sunday, 17th September 1972 at 10 p.m.
DAP calls on the Alliance Government to launch a special development programme to give land, jobs and homes to the people of Sungei Siput to remove the barbed wires in their hearts and minds
Since the launching of the Operation Setia on Sept.25 last year at 3 a.m., starting with a 51 hour continuous curfew, the people of Sungei Siput have felt the heavy hand of the government, and have been made to feel that they are disloyal and anti-national elements.
The Jalong new village in Sungei Siput is still under barbed wire, and the government has announced its intention to enforce tenant registration daily in Sungei Siput.
The Alliance Government is dealing with the problem of Sungei Siput without imagination, vision or compassion. It is highly ironical that although the Member of Parliament for Sungei Siput is the Minister for National Unity, Tun V.T. Sambanthan, who is in charge of goodwill, there is probably more ill-will in Sungei Siput than anywhere else.
Tun Sambanthan is indeed a colossal failure. As Minister for National Unity, he could not ensure even unity in his tiny MIC party. As Minister in charge of goodwill, he could not promote goodwill in his own Parliamentary constituency.
The problem in Sungei Siput is basically a socio-economic problem. The people of Sungei Siput are not more disloyal than the people in any other area.
But the people of Sungei Siput, facing all the restrictions of barbed wire and the impending introduction of the tenant-registration, have reason to be more than ordinarily aggrieved when they are also neglected in social and economic advancement.
There is an acuteproblem of land hunger in Sungei Siput, which had led to a grave squatter problem. The government has arbitnarily and high-handedly evicted many squatter families, without any consideration or provision for alternative land or livelihood. Squatter problem is not a criminal problem, but like poverty, a socio – economic problem, and should be treated with compassion and with a conscience.
It cannot be said that there is scarcity of land in Sungei Siput area, which has acreage of 600.5 square miles. There is enough land for the landless in Sungei Siput, if the government is sincere in wanting to solve the basic problems of poverty, landlessness and joblessness.
Indeed, the 40,000 people of Sungei Siput are caught in a trap. The government refuses to give land for the landless, or to create jobs for the unemployed by setting up industries. There are no houses for the homeless.
When they are compelled to squat illegally, they are treated as criminals, and handled roughly and even brutally, without regard to human feelings.
Further imposed to this long-standing neglect of their socio-economic plight, is added the curfews, restrictions and the official distrust and enmity which the government shows towards the population of Sungei Siput.
The basic problem in Sungei Siput, both from the security and economic points of view, is not the barbed wires the government had put up in the surrounding new villages, but the barbed wires which the government have created in the hearts and minds of the people of Sungei Siput by its high-handed treatment of the people and total neglect of their economic plight.
So long as the barbed wires which the government has erected in the hearts and minds of the people of Sungei Siput are not removed, so long will the problem of Sungei Siput be unresolved.
The DAP calls on the government to take an imaginative, statesmanlike and far-sighted policy which is designed to remove and dismantle the barbed wires in the hearts and minds of the people, and win them over to the government. For once the barbed wires in the hearts and minds of the people have been removed, there is no need for barbed wires in the new villages, or tenant – registration.
Basically, the government should show faith and confidence in the people of Sungei Siput, and not treat them as potential communists and traitors.
The DAP calls therefore for a two-pronged attack, one on the socio-economic front, and the other on the security-psychological front.
The government, at both Federal and State levels, should immediately launch a special development programme to solve the basic problem of poverty and socio – economic backwardness of the people of Sungei Siput by :
i. Giving land to all landless in Sungei Siput ;
ii. Give all squatters a fair deal, whereby each is given an alternative piece of land or alternative livelihood before eviction ;
iii. The establish of industries in Sungei Siput to create jobs for the youngsters, the majority of whom are now forced to leave their families and homes to go overseas as Singapore and Indonesia to find jobs ;
iv. Launch a cheap housing programme to build homes for the homeless.
The government should stop treating every person in Sungei Siput as a potential communist and disloyal agent, but have faith and confidence in them as law-abiding citizens, who desire as much as any other Malaysian peace, stability and order, and who – with the solution of their long – standing socio-economic problems, would not prove to be any less Malaysian-minded than any other person in other parts of the country. The government should do this by:
1. Remove the barbed wires in Jalong and other neighboring new villages;
2. Cancel its plan to introduce tenant-registration for Sungei Siput, which can only antagonize and embitter more people, and deepen the barbed wires in the hearts and minds of the people.