Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, to party members when touring the Penchala state constituency in the company of the DAP State Assemblyman for Penchala, Mr. Hor Cheok Foon, on Sunday, 11th March 1973.
Three days ago, the Minister for Special Functions, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, announced that his Ministry would provide $280,000 to convert 44 new villages in Negri Sembilan into integrated townships.
Dr. Lim Keng Yaik made great boast about the allocation of funds, and it is understandable, as until now, for the last 15 months of his term as Minister, he was only given enough money to meet his own salary and that of his staff without a single cent for the new village development which he was entrusted with.
But when we consider the figure of $280,000 to convert 44 backward new villages into thriving towns, it is indeed a ridiculous idea. This works out to about $6,000 for each new village.
Is this the government and Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’ s idea of revolutionising and modernising life in the 400 new villages in Malaysia, by giving them each $6,000 and call it a conversion of a new village into towns? In this case, what we have is a conversion of name, but not the life, the economic conditions, cultural backwardness and social retardation of the 900,000 new villagers in the country.
With the approach of the coming general elections, this $6,000 per new village will most probably be used for the MCA to go round distributing to get votes without materially affecting the quality of life of the new villagers, either in terms of giving them jobs, lands or homes.
For over 20 years, the 400 new villages have been neglected and excluded from development and progress. This cannot be compensated by a paltry $6,000 per new village, lot alone turn backward new villages into prosperous townships.
I urge Dr. Lim Keng Yaik not to use his Ministry of New Villages to deceit the new villages about a new tomorrow, when he has no power nor funds to bring this about.
Instead of concentrating on making publicity, Dr. Lim should concentrate on getting government funds to develop the new villages, and to do this he must have at least $ 5 million a month allocated for new village revolution, or roughly at least $100,000 earmarked for each new village every year.
Furthermore, he should stop going around to make it appear as if $6,000 per new village will bring the new villagers in Malaysia to a land of milk and honey, solving all their economic, social, cultural and educational problems.