DAP calls on all State Government and all State Development Corporations to be model employers

Speech by Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr.Lim Kit Siang, at a public rally held at Nibong Tebal, Province Wellesley on 25th August, 1973 at 9p.m.

DAP calls on all State Government and all State Development Corporations to be model employers and ensure that workers in all industries in which they have participation are given affair living wage

In Malaysia’s drive to industrialise and woo foreign capital, the Malaysian government must not lose sight of the interests of the workers and the working class.

A proper and just balance must be struck between the capitalist profit motive on the one-hand, and the worker and the public’s interests on the others.

It is unfortunate that on many instances, the government’s industrialisation programme seems to give a blank cheque to foreign and local industries to maximise their profit margin, regardless of the exploitation suffered by the workers in terms of sweated wages or by the public consumers in terms of overpriced products in a captive or protective domestic market.

In a number of cases, these unscrupulous industries have State participation which seems to give them both immunity and incentive to carry out exploitation of workers and other anti-social activities.

I will give one example. In my constituency of Bandar Melaka, there is a German-Malaysian joint-venture, The Mercury Textile Corporation Sdn Bhd, which claimed that when it is in full production, it would be the world’s biggest single shirt producer with an output of one million shirts per month.

Since March, the factory started production; it employed some 200 seamstresses and paid them an average of $30/ per month and some as low as $15/ a month. On such pittance, it is clearly impossible to survive with dignity, especially with the spiraling prices in all goods these past months. Workers who tried to demand for more decent wage were dismissed.

This is one of the worst cases of exploitation of Malaysian workers by foreign capital which I have come across. One reason that this industry could so brazenly exploit the workers is because it has 20% participation by the Malacca State Development Corporation.

My colleague, Sdr.Bernard Santa Maria, the DAP State Assemblyman for Malacca, has taken this matter up with the Malacca Chief Minister, Tuan Haji Abdul Ghani Bin Ali but no improvements have been made.

Even if it is true when in full production, the Mercury Textile Corporation Sdn Bhd will become the world’s biggest shirt producer, Malaysia would be better off without such an industry if it is to be the world’s greatest exploiter of labour.

There are many other industries in which State Development Corporations have participation which set a most pernicious example to other industries in their untrammeled exploitation of workers. In Penang, under the Gerakan government, there are many such industries.

The DAP calls on all State Governments and all State Development Corporations to set an example as modal employers and ensure that all workers in industries in which they have participation are given a fair living wage.

The Minister of Labour and Manpower, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, should immediately look into the Mercury Textile Corporation Sdn.Bhd. affair and put an end to such blatant exploitation of Malaysian workers by foreign capital and State governments.

Much Malaysia welcomes industrial investments from abroad; all foreign capital must be impressed with a sense of responsibility to the workers ion the country. In Malaysia’s own dignity and pride, we cannot offer our workers and industrial serfs for full exploitation by foreign capital for maximum profit.

DAP calls for increase of government expenditure for higher education to ensure that every Malaysian student who is qualified get a place in a university

One of the biggest educational problems facing Malaysia today is the paradox where more and more Malaysian students, with the intelligence and qualifications, could not find places and opportunities for higher education in Malaysia.

Many of our youths, who have achieved excellent academic results in the Malaysian Certificate of Education, and who would have gone on to attain professional qualifications with distinction, are rotting away in their homes because they cannot get into either pre-university or university classes.

This is a grave social and educational injustice which the people must oppose vigorously, for this also waste scarce educated manpower in Malaysia, which is not oversupplied with qualified manpower.

It is this lop-sided and irrational policy which led to the continued discrimination and refusal on the government to give the 10,000 graduates of Nantah and Formosan, Indian and other universities their rightful place in the economic development of the country.

The DAP calls for the increase of government expenditure for higher education in Malaysia to ensure that every Malaysian student, with the intelligence and qualifications, is given pre-university and university places so that their talents will not be wasted away.