Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, today issued the following statement (9.10.1973):
Lim Kit Siang warns against using of emergency powers to control rice situation
The Deputy Prime Minister, Dato Hussein Onn, said yesterday that the government will muster all resources and, if necessary, use its emergency powers to impose heavier penalties on rice smugglers, hoarders and profiteers.
The Opposition is opposed to the use of emergency powers in normal times, for it will lead to considerable abuse of powers.
If the government feels that the penalties for rice smugglers, hoarders and profiteers are inadequate, the government should convene an emergency session of Parliament to increase these penalties.
An emergency session of Parliament can be called in a matter of three or four days, as was done when the Parliament was convened in emergency session within a matter of days in 1967 to change the constitution to topple Dato Stephen Kalong Ningkan as Chief Minister of Sarawak.
In fact, the Parliament should have been summoned to meet to study the rice situation in the country. I made this suggestion a few weeks back. The reason why the government does not want to convene an emergency session of Parliament because it does not want a public examination, especially by Opposition Members of Parliament, of the true causes and reasons for the inept and incompetent handling of the rice situation by the government, especially by the LPN.
The simple reason is that the LPN, charged with the three tasks of (i) ensuring a fair price for padi farmers (ii) ensuring a cheap and stable price for rice for consumers and (iii) ensuring ample supply of rice for all emergencies, has failed in all three tasks.
In a period of four months, there was two rice shortage and high prices crisis, inspite of the fact that Malaysia produces 90 per cent of our own rice requirements.
On behalf of the Opposition in Parliament, I call on the government to convene a special session of Parliament within this week, to study the rice situation, and to pass any new legislation which the government regards as necessary to bring the rice situation under control.
The government, should not, however, under any circumstances invoke emergency powers, not only because this is unnecessary, but because it will completely undermine the concept of the Rule of law, as enshrined in the Rukunegara, and the principle of parliamentary sovereignty.
Government should pay COLA to government employees without any more delay
The government should make a statement to declare its intention on the payment of COLA to government employees, especially those drawing low-incomes, without any more delay.
The case for COLA to government employees is unchallengeable, with the galloping prices inflation in the country, reducing their purchasing power by 20 to 40% depending on their income groups.
In this connection, the government should work out a National COLA policy, which can also serve as a guideline for COLA payments by employers in the private sector.