Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament For Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally in Jinjang to launch the DAP New Village Week. The rally was held on Sunday, 24th September 1972 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
DAP calls on Government to set aside 400,000 acres of Land for allocation to new villages under Second Malaysia Plan
Tonight’s public rally at Jinjang marks the launching of the DAP’s Now Village Week to commemorate the one – year anniversary of the DAP campaign on behalf of the forgotten 900,000 new villagers of Malaysia.
On 4th September last year, at a public rally at Kampar, on behalf of the DAP, I announced that the DAP had decided to champion the cause of the 900,000 new villagers. This was because for 20 years, the government had neglected the economic, social, educational and cultural development of the 450 new villages in Malaysia. The 900,000 new villagers suffered in silence for one generation. What was more tragic was that not only had the government forgotten them, the people and the nation as a whole had also forgotten them and did not know or were not concerned that 900,000 new villagers were economically, socially and culturally living in great deprivation.
The DAP decided to change all that. Thus on Sept. 19, 1971, the DAP formally formed a DAP National New Villages Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of Sdr. Yap Pian Hon, State Assemblyman for Serdang and a new villager himself, to spearhead the campaign for the forgotten 900,000.
We made use of every available opportunity to highlight the suffering, plight and neglect of the new villagers, whether it be in Parliament, State Assemblies, public rallies or other public gatherings.
In the December session of Parliament last year, we made the subject of the fate and future of the 900,000 new villagers our main theme.
Although the Alliance government tried to the last to resist the public pressure which our nation-wide campaign had generated, by denying that there was any ‘new village’ problem, it finally had to accede to our pressure because we were speaking the truth, which had a force and power of its own.
This was why nobody in the Alliance or MCA could dispute our contention that the Alliance Government two Five-Year Plans from 1960 – 1970 had completely ignored the 900,000 new villagers, and there was no mention or provision for overcoming this neglect in the Second Malaysia Plan from 1971 – 1975.
In the First Five Year Malaysia Plan, $9,000 million was spent in public and private development of the economy, and $500,000 acres of land developed.
But the 900,000 new villagers were not the beneficiaries.
Under the Second Five-Year Malaysia Plan, a total expenditure of $14,000 million is envisaged, and one million acres of land to be opened up, but what is there for the 900,000 new villagers who had been forgotten for one generation?
As a result of the nation-wide campaign and pressure which we generated, the Alliance Government was forced to appoint a Minister of New Villages in the person of Dr. Lim Keng Yaik within three a months of the launching of the DAP National New Villages Sub-Committee.
Although we achieved quick success in our campaign to get the government to set up a special department to look after new village problems, we were not happy at all, because we knew that the appointment of the Minister of New Villages was not a genuine change of heart of the Alliance government, but merely a political ploy and trick to deceive the 900,000 new villagers.
Sure enough, after nine months of his appointment, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has shown that he has no funds, power and responsibility for the development of the new villages.
Every month, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik gets for his Ministry only $ 10,000, just enough for his own salary and 11 other staff. Dr. Lim gets the least funds of all Ministry – even less than the Minister for Sarawak Affairs who gets $30,000 a month.
When we note that the Minister for National and Rural Development, Inche Ghaffar Baba, has at his disposal about $20 million a month, we can see the emptiness of Dr. Lim’s portforlio.
The Prime Minister, Tun Razak, has said in Parliament that it is also not Dr. Lim’s job to prepare a blueprint for the development of the new villages. It is obvious that Dr. Lim’s task is to make maximum publicity to give the people the continued impression that the government has not forgotten them, although the government is not prepared to do a single thing for the 900,000 new villagers.
The DAP calls on the Alliance Government to stop bluffing the 900,000 new villagers, and be allocate funds for their upliftment.
Basically, the new villagers want three things: namely, land, jobs and homes.
The DAP calls on the Government to compensate the 900,000 new villagers for the 20-year neglect and set aside 400,000 acres of land under the Second Five Year Malaysia Plan to resettle the new village unemployed and underemployed.
This is the only way for the Alliance Government to prove that the Second Malaysia Plan, which professes as one of its objectives the elimination of poverty regardless of race, is seriously meant.
The DAP, for our part, will never cease to champion the cause of the 900,000 new villagers until they are given a decent deal, and the 20-year neglect is ended.