DAP calls for effective government action to arrest price inflation in Malaysia

Press Statement by Lim Kit Siang, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Bandar Melaka on 9 August 1973:

The Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, said yesterday that one of the major causes of inflation can be traced to some importers making profits of 100 per cent or more, because of their monopolistic and price-fixing practices.

For the past few months, the Alliance leaders, including the Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, had put the blame on the shop-keepers and have even advocated a boycott of retail shops.

The DAP, however, had consistently pointed out that the root problem is not the shopkeepers although there may be some hoarding and profiteering but the prices fixed at source either by the manufacturers, the wholesalers or the importers.

We are glad that the Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, has at last realised this, and has given instances of how despite the devaluation of British and American currencies, the prices of British and American imports have not gone down correspondingly. On the contrary, their prices have gone up instead.

Although the DAP is happy that the Finance Minister has apparently moved from his recent position, announced in Parliament and outside, that inflation in Malaysia is a very small problem, he has not given any indication from his speech yesterday that the government of his Ministry has the will or intention to take firm government actions to protect the Malaysian consumers from monopolistic and price-fixing practices by manufacturers, wholesalers and importers.

The Finance Minister and the Alliance Government is failing in their duty to protect the interest of the consumers and the rakyat in their apathy unwillingness to bring down prices of the entire range of goods, imported and locally manufactured, to just levels.

The government has the power and the mechanism to ensure that prices are brought down to just levels. The question is whether they are prepared to exercise these powers in the interest of the ordinary masses, or they prefer to allow the cartels and capitalists to fleece and hold the country to ransom.

Here, it is pertinent to reiterate that a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Prices with powers to call up every manufacturer, importer or wholesaler to justify his price levels and submit him to public scruting will go a long way to bring down the prices inflation.

If Tun Tan Siew Sin and other Alliance Ministers and leaders are genuinely interested in working out an effective strategy to combat prices inflection, then they should adopt the DAP suggestion and have established an all-party Parliamentary Standing Committee on Prices as a watchdog for the consumers.