Press Statement by Ketua Pembangkang & Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang on 28.12.1973
Call for lifting of import duties on Mandarin oranges to enable poor and low-income Malaysian Chinese to celebrate Chinese New Year
The MCA is holding a special conference for all its branch officials in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to discuss the issues and problems facing the people of Malaysia, in particular the Malaysian Chinese.
What is needed is not more discussion, but resolution and action to help the ordinary people in the country to lead a better and more fulfilling life.
There are so many things which should be done immediately, and which can be done immediately, both by MCA Ministers and other Alliance Ministers. The only question is whether these Ministers have the will, ability and determination to do what is right by the people.
For instance, the Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, can immediately do the following things:
1. Lift the import duties on Mandarin oranges so that the poor and low-income Malaysian Chinese, already terribly hit by the runaway inflation in the country, can pass the Chinese New Year without the added burden of very expensive Mandarin oranges.
2. Abolish the Sales Tax which has been the main cause of inflation in the country and greater abolition of import duties so that Malaysians can buy cheaper goods.
In the last one week, the prices of more goods have shot up. Only two days ago, it was announced that lorry transportation rates have been revised upwards, following the increase in the price of oil and petroleum products.
The increase in oil and other petroleum products will be followed by increases in the price of light and power, other haulage charges, bus fares and public transport in general – leading to a further round of upward increases in prices.
Flour, one of the main items which will be used by housewives to make cakes and other delicacies for the Chinese New Year, is expected to increase before the Chinese New Year. The flour manufacturers are resorting to the traditional tactics of slowing down production until government gives the approval for price increase.
The Finance Minister, if he has the welfare of the poor Malaysian Chinese at heart, should immediately get the Cabinet to issue a statement that flour will not be allowed to increase in price before the Chinese New Year, and that flour production will be ordered to step up production instead of being allowed to cut down production.
Another thing which the MCA can do immediately is to secure more television and radio time for Chinese and Indian programme. Today, the Deputy Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Inche Shariff Ahmad, announced new radio programming for next year, but there is no indication that the government will restore more radio and television time to Chinese and Indian language programme.
In Sabah, it was announced that from 1.1.1974, Radio Sabah would stop broadcasting Chinese, Kadazan, and other language programme.
Is Radio Sabah’s policy to be followed in West Malaysia?
I have raised this matter in Parliament, and although the Minister for National Unity, Tun V. T. Sambanthan, has promised to refer this matter to the Prime Minister, the MCA leaders seem to have no opposition to such radio policy.
I want the MCA Conference to take a stand on the proposed termination of all Chinese and Kadazan programme over Radio Sabah on 1.1.1974, and join the DAP in our demand that Chinese and Kadazan programmes should be restored over Radio Sabah.
Furthermore, the MCA Ministers in the Cabinet must immediately secure restoration of radio and television time which Chinese and Indian programme had lost these few years with the consent of the MCA.
In the education, the MCA can do immediately the following things:
1. Get Cabinet approval to a policy position that the Chinese primary schools would not be changed qualitatively and converted into national primary schools.
2. Restore the Boards of Managements if Chinese primary schools.
3. Firm Cabinet commitment to the policy that every Malaysian with the necessary academic qualifications would be assisted by the State to pursue higher studies.
There are of course many more other things, but if for a start, the MCA in the Government can do the above things, only then can it be a useful political organisation.