A more just and equal, democratic socialist Malaysia where all poor and have-nots can cease to be poor and have-not

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to party members before starting a tour of the Bukit Raja constituency on Saturday, 10th March 1973 at 2.30 p.m. He accompanied during the tour by the Member of Parliament and State Assemblyman for the constituency, Sdr. Hor Cheok Foon (M.P. for Damansara) and Sdr. K. Ramasen (State Assemblyman for Bukit Raja).

The DAP will continue undeterred to fight for a more just and equal, democratic socialist Malaysia where all poor and have-nots can cease to be poor and have-not

The DAP, despite some setbacks in the past two years, is inflexibly committed to the objective of striving for a more just and equal, democratic socialist Malaysia.

The burning issues in Malaysia today have, and must remain, that of poverty, economic backwardness and deprivation of opportunities for all Malaysian to lead a fulfilling life whether on economic, educational, cultural or political level.

It is this commitment to a democratic socialist Malaysia that guided our performance in Parliament right from the beginning.

I will illustrate this by three examples.

In Parliament, it was the DAP which highlight and dramatised the plight of the 900,000 new villages in Malaysia, who for 20 years, have been excluded from the mainstream of national development. They were treated as step-children, starved of development funds and government care or attention.

The DAP championed their cause, despite accusations and condemnations from Alliances leaders. In fact, at one stage, the Prime Minister said the question of new village backwardness was a ‘sensitive issue’.

However, owing to the relentless pressure put up by the DAP inside and outside Parliament, the government had to bow down to public opinion and publicly at least, give lip service to its concern about the plight of the 900,000 new villages. As a result, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was appointed Minister for New Village, although with no power or funds to materially change the lot of the 900,000 new villages, who today remain as backward as 20 years ago, without jobs, land or home.

The DAP was also foremost in Parliament to champion the lot of the 500,000 Malaysians who are affected by large scale retrenchment of estate labourers. Again, when then DAP first raise this issue, the government refused to concede that there was this widespread social and economic problem.

DAP Members of Parliament did not give up, and kept hammering home about the government’s obligation to provide for the economic and social wellbeing of retrenched estate labourers, who have spent the best part of their lives in building up the lifeblood of Malaysian industry.

Last month, the Prime Minister called a meeting of estate managements and urged estate managements to help in safeguarding the economic and social future of retrenched estate labourers. It is still to be seen whether this new-found concern for estate labourers is a genuine one, or merely a gimmick for the forthcoming general elections, to be forgotten after the next general elections.

Again, in Parliament, DAP MPs called for land reforms to ensure that the Malay padi farmers in Kedah and Kelantan are not exploited by absentee landlords. We deplored the fact that although the government is spending hundreds of millions dollars to build vast projects like MUDA and KEMUMBU irrigation projects, the fruits of these public investments do not go to the padi farmers, but to the well-to-do absentee landlords.

The padi farmers do not benefit from increased incomes, despite the increased productivity. This is because the majority of them are tenant farmers, who are exploited by absentee landlords. Those who own the farms they operate have uneconomic holdings, many of which are below one acre in area.

This problem has been outstanding for decades, but the Alliance Government has continued to ignore the suffering and plight of the padi farmers.

We are glad that last week, the Prime Minister has said that the government would like to see land reforms carried out in Kedah and Kelantan so that the farmers enjoy the fruits of their labour. Again, whether this is an election gimmick or a genuine concern is still to be seen.

However, the DAP inside Parliament and outside, will continue to champion the cause of the economically depressed Malaysians, whether the new villages, estate labourers or landless peasants.

The Second Malaysia Plan, which is supposed to be the blue-print for Alliance to solve poverty, has not a word or mention for the new villages, estate labourers or padi farmers. It is a plan not to abolish poverty, but to create a new class of Malay rich so that with the small class of Chinese and Indian rich, the poor of all races can be exploited.

The DAP will fearlessly voice out the sufferings of the oppressed, and strive for a democratic socialist Malaysia, where the poor and have-nots of all races will cease to be poor and have-not, and bring an end to the present system which only makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.