Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr.Lim Kit Siang at the Pudu / Bukit Bintang Solidarity Dinner held at Mak Yee Restaurant on 29th August, 1973 at 7.00p.m.
The 1972 National Day Theme “Masyarakat Adil” a big failure
In another two days, Malaysia will be celebrating her 16th birthday. The Alliance Government has announced that for this year’s National Day, the theme would be Masyarakat Berkebudayaan Malaysia.
Last year, the Alliance Government’s National Day theme was Masyarakat Adil which Alliance leaders claimed would be the Government’s guiding principle of all Government policies and actions for the following 12 months. It would be fitting, on the eve of the end of 12 months of “Masyarakat Adil” theme, that we assess whether in the last one year, there had been greater social justice or the reverse.
A general survey of the economic, educational and social life of Malaysians in the last one year indicates that Alliance Government’s “Masyarakat Adil” theme is a great failure. Social injustices and inequities had increased over the months.
A few main instances will illustrate this trend towards social justices:
1) Rising prices: in the last 12 months, the poor and the low income bore the main weight of rising price in foodstuffs, essential commodities and all other goods. Their purchasing power was slashed by at least 15%, while their income remained stationery.
The Alliance Government took no effective steps to control inflation or check spiraling prices. Thus in the last 12 months, the experienced the unprecedented rice crisis off shortages and high prices despite the oft-repeated Alliance boast that Malaysia is self-sufficient in rice.
There are indications that Malaysia is on the verge of a second rice crisis, shortages and high prices and I recall on the Alliance Government to take all necessary steps to ensure that there will not be any increase in the price of rice. In this connection, the Government must not only ensure that the consumers get cheap rice but that padi farmers get reasonable prices for their padi produces. It is a deplorable that the Lembaga Padi dan Beras Negara should attempt to ban Kedah padi farmers from selling their padi in Province Wellesley for higher prices. What the LPN should do is to offer higher prices themselves to the padi farmers.
2) Unemployment: Unemployment has worried despite the First and Second Five year Plan. More and more Malaysian youths are roaming the streets and idling in the kampongs for lack of gainful employment. Unemployment has become so acute that the problem of educated unemployed has taken on serious proportions for the first time in Malaysia.
3) Widening of the Gap between Haves and the Have-Not’s: The last point here is that the gap between the Haves and Have-not’s has considerably widened.
The new villagers and the estate labourers continue to be excluded from the main stream of national development. The rural landless and the padi farmers and fishermen continue to be exploited just like the workers in private and Government participated industries.
4) Education: In the field of education, the absence of a “Masyarakat Adil” is even more pronounced.
It was during the last 12 months that 14,000 of our children failed their MCE although they scored a string of distinctions in the whole string of subjects. The schools with traditionally the best results have become the worst schools.
More and more Malaysian students with the necessary academic qualifications are denied places in Malaysian Universities. Of the few who are given places, many are unable to take up the offers because they come from poor families or do not have the financial resources. At the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Malaya, Professor Ungku Aziz, confirmed in May this year that even the majority of Government scholarships and bursaries to the Bumiputras go to the children of the rich and the well-placed.
I can go on at great length to give further examples of the emptiness of the “Masyarakat Adil” theme of the Alliance Government in the last 12 months but I think what I have mentioned will suffice.
When the Alliance Government selects and proclaim a National Day theme to guide Government actions and policies for the following 12 months, it must see it that this National Day theme is faithfully observed in deeds as well as in words. Let us hope that in the next 12 months, the new National Day theme “Masyarakat Berkebudayaan Malaysia” will be more meaningfully implemented than that of “Masyarakat Adil”