Parit Bunter ferry tragedy – DAP presses for immediate government compensation and remedial action

Parit Bunter ferry tragedy – DAP presses for immediate government compensation and remedial action

Yesterday, accompanied by DAP National Vice Chairman, Sdr. Daing Ibrahim bin Othman, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and Perak DAP State Assembly leader, Sdr. Ibrahim bin Singgeh, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and M.P. for Batu Gajah, Sdr. Lim Cho Hock, M.P. for Teluk Anson, Sdr. Chan Fu King, Perak State Assemblymen for Kuala Dipang, Sdr. Chan Heng Who, and Perak DAP Women’s Section leaders, I visited the Parit Buntar and Dander Bahru tragedy areas.

The DAP delegation wanted to see for ourselves the actual situation which led and caused the Parit Buntar ferry tragedy which caused 32 lives.

There is no doubt that there is a great sense of betrayal by the people of Parit Buntar and Bandar Baharu.

At every general election campaign since 1959, the Alliance Party and candidates promised solemnly that the ruling party will build a bridge for Sungei Krian to link Parit Buntar and Bandar Baharu – but 32 lives have now been lost, because of the breach of the Alliance promise to build the bridge over a very small river, where about 7,000 people had to cross daily.

The Alliance government has the money to squander on Alliance and PPP State Assemblymen to send them overseas on pleasure trips, and have no money to build a bridge essential for the welfare anx safety of Malaysian poor, particularly the poor innocent school children who had been the chief victims.

The DAP deplores the Alliance neglect of the needs, welfare and safety of the people of Parit Buntar and Bandar Baharu, which has contributed to the death of 32 people.

The DAP Perak State Assembly leader, Sdr. Ibrahim Singgeh, has given notice that he would move a motion in the next Perak State Assembly meeting to deplore the Alliance government’s failure to build a bridge at Parit Buntar, while having no hesitation in wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on prestigious and socially useless projects.

We in the DAP will not stop championing the basic right of the people of Parit Buntar and Bandar Baharu to have a bridge, whether in the Perak State Assembly, the Parliament or all public rallies throughout the country, until a bridge is finally constructed.

I want the Alliance government to immediately build a bridge. We in the DAP, the parents of the victims, the people of Parit Buntar and Bandar Bahru, and the citizens of Malaysia, are not interested whether the bridge is built by the Perak Alliance Government, the Kedah Alliance Government or the Central Alliance Government. They are all Alliance.

When my colleagues and I visited the tragedy areas, we found that the Government has put up a Board exempting the government from all liability, claims or compensation for any injury, loss of property or life which may occur to users of the ferry.

This is government irresponsibility at its height.

The DAP calls on the Alliance government to accept full responsibility for the ferry tragedy, and waive its exemption clause – and immediately compensate from government funds every bereaved family.

At present, for every victim, the Social Welfare department is giving $50, the State Government $100. This is a pitifully inadequate sum. It is indeed gross social injustice, when the government can give $5,000 to every PPP and Alliance State Assemblyman to go overseas for pleasure trips, and give the bereaved families such a pathetic sum. It makes a mockery of the National DAY theme this year on ‘Social Justice ‘.

Finally, the DAP calls on the Alliance Government to stop delays and procrastinations, and immediately appoint a commission of inquiry into the causes of the ferry tragedy. Such a commission of inquiry should have opposition party leaders represented, to satisfy the country and people that there will be a full and impartial inquiry to ascertain the real causes, and not to hide the true facts from the public. Such a Commission of Inquiry must be held in open, accessible to the public.