Youth and human right problems of the country

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, when addressing the DAP National Youth Council meeting at 77 Road 20/9, Paramount Garden, Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 19th August 1973 at 10.30 a.m.

Malaysian youths should address themselves to the basic human right problems of the country and other fundamental political, economic, social, and cultural issues

Malaysian youths, who comprise the majority of the population, should take a keen and active interest in basic human right problems and the fundamental political, economic, social, and cultural problems which impede potentialities, capabilities and opportunities.

Basic Human Rights

One of the basic human rights of every modern man is that he should not be discriminated on any grounds whatsoever.

Clause 8(2) of the Malaysian Constitution provided that “there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent or place of birth in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law” in the country.

One significant omission is that there is no provision for the outlawing of discrimination on grounds of political beliefs.

In a democratic country, there must be freedom for every Malaysian citizen to profess the political beliefs of his choice, and he should not be discriminated against by the government because of his different political beliefs.

This, however, is what is happening. A good instance is with regard to teachers. We find throughout the country, teachers who take active part in UMNO, MCA or MIC politics are given every facility and encouragement, and even helped to advance career-wise. However, teachers who wish to take part in opposition political activity are discriminated against and even victimised.

This problem is not confined to teachers alone, but is general in scope. This is a grave violation of a basic human right, which youths in Malaysia must agitate to secure the outlawing of discrimination on grounds of political beliefs.

Another example to illustrate the discrimination against Malaysians and Malaysian organisations on grounds of political belief can be found in Sabah.

On August 4, 1973, there was to be a by-election in the Sabah State constituency of ELOPURA, Sandakan. The United Sabah Action Party (USAP) had decided to field a candidate, a medical practitioner, to contest the Sabah Alliance candidate.

However, just before nomination for the by-election opened, the Sabah Police raided the USAP Sandakan branch and detained all the USAP leaders, members and the candidate for the rest of the day, which effectively prevented them from going to the nomination centre to file their nomination papers.

The interference of the Sabah Police with the legitimate political activity of a legally registered Opposition party is a blot on the police record, and I have written to the new Minister for Home Affairs, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, for an investigation.

Rising Prices

As youths, we must be also intimately concerned with the socio-economic problems besetting the country.

The two main socio-economic problems facing Malaysians today are unemployment and galloping inflation.

The Minister for Finance, Tun Tan Siew Sin, has just lifted the import restrictions on 61 items of goods, and the government described this as the first government step to fight inflation.

It is indeed a great disappointment that after a year of galloping inflation, the government is only taking the first step to fight inflation, which has eaten away the purchasing power of the poor.

But this first government measure to fight inflation is a most trivial one. The lifting of import restrictions on 61 items at this late stage is best describe as ‘too little and too late’, and would have no influence to bring down the spiraling prices.

If these lifting of import restrictions had been introduced a year back, it would have helped to prevent the shooting up of prices. As it is, prices which have gone up are not going to come down with this new Ministry of Finance measure – unless the Ministry of Finance is prepared to order all affected prices to come down to reasonable levels.

What is clearly needed and lacking is a comprehensive government anti-inflation policy, which can restore to the consumers and wage-earners the purchasing power which had been slashed off in the last one year’s price inflation.