Establish a Ministry to specially look after the socio-economic, educational, and cultural needs of the estate workers

Speech by DAP Secretary General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the re-election of the Perak DAP Estates Sub-Committee held at IPOH on 23rd. September, 1973 at 1.30 p.m.

DAP Calls on NUPW branches to pass resolutions urging the Government to establish a Ministry to specially look after the socio-economic, educational, and cultural needs of the estate workers

I read with interest the resolutions passed by the 4th Malacca NUPW State Division General Meeting held in Malacca last Sunday.

The seven resolutions highlighted the socio-economic and educational problems faced by estate workers and their dependants throughout the country.

For over two decades, the socio-economic, educational and cultural needs of the estate workers have been neglected by the Government.

Recent government and private studies have all come to one conclusion: that the estate workers have lagged behind other Malaysians in economic sectors, whether in the social, economic or educational field.

Thus, unemployment is increasing at about twice the rate among Indians than among the Malays or Chinese. The Indians also trail behind the other races in the sphere of education.

In the estate all over the country, we see young school drop-outs wasting away their talents and future although given the opportunity they could have gone on to become doctors, scientists, engineers, accountants, lawyers, teachers or technicians. As it is, these young school drop-outs can only follow their father’s footsteps and grow up and become estate workers themselves and get some low paid work or join the ranks of the unemployed.

A society which condemns a child of an estate worker to a life of poverty although he has the ability of achieving bigger things is an unfair and inequitable one.

At present, the chances of the children of the estate workers of having the opportunities of developing their potential to the fullest through primary, secondary or tertiary education have become more and more limited with every passing year.

The socio-economic problems of estate workers are also acute. Although the present price of rubber is good, the estate workers have not benefited much. It is the managements and foreign capitalists who dominate the rubber industry who are getting the lion’s share of the rubber prices.

We must not forget the teeming estate workers who after spending the best part of their lives in estate are retrenched or even a piece of land to eke out a living for the rest of their lives.

These pressing educational and socio-economic problems of the estate workers cry out for government attention and solution.

The time has come for the Government to make a concentrated and integrated attack on these problems of the estate workers.

To do this, it is essential that there must be a new Ministry of senior Cabinet status charged with the task and allocated with ample funds for the identification and solution of the estate workers’ educational and socio-economic problem.

I call on the estate workers and all Malaysians who are concerned about this problem to join forces to make their voice heard in the country and by the Government.

In this connection, it would be a good idea for all NUPW branches to take up this call by passing resolutions calling on the Government to set up Special Ministry for estate workers.