Call on the government to tame and contain the greed of manufacturers and importers for maximum profits regardless of hardships to the consumers

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Tanjong Rambutan, Perak, on Saturday, 2nd February 1974 at 9 p.m.

1. Call on the government to tame and contain the greed of manufacturers and importers for maximum profits regardless of hardships to the consumers

On the 21st January 1974, the Alliance Government introduced and passed in the Dewan Rakyat the Price Control (Amendment) Bill to arm the government with more powers to fight inflation and price increases.

Four days later, on 25th January 1974, the Government gave approval to the flour mills and sugar refineries in the country to increase for another time their prices. This is a very serious development in the worsening inflationary situation because sugar and flour are basic items which must lead a chain reaction of other price increases. Already bread and mee and other related items have gone up in price.

There is no point in passing a Price Control (Amendment) Bill in Parliament if the National Front Government is going to approve price increase for essential commodities without taking into the fullest consideration the interest of the consumers.

It is noteworthy that while during the previous sugar and flour price increase, the announcement was made by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, this time the price increase was announced by the sugar refineries and flour mills themselves, although it was the Government which permitted the price increase.

This is also in sharp contrast to the price increase of petrol, fuel oil and diesel on December 22, 1973 when the Minister for Primary Industries went over the air to explain in some detail why the government allowed increase in price – although his reasons are not acceptable.

Why has the Ministry of Trade and Industry kept so quiet and still and made no attempt to justify their price increase approval for sugar and flour this time? Is it because the Ministry of Trade and Industry realise that there is no good public case for such price increases, apart from satisfying the greed of the sugar refineries and flour mills to maintain their great profit margins in the past?

I call on the Minister if Trade and Industry to release facts and figures to prove to the public that the sugar and flour price increases are unavoidable, and that the sugar refineries and flour mills could not absorb these price increase and be content with a smaller profit margin?

One chief cause of inflation in Malaysia is that manufacturers and importers want to capitalise on this period of inflation, not only to maintain their previous high levels of profitability, but even to exceed their previous profit margins, in utter disregard of the hardships caused to the consumers.

Malaysia cannot permit unbridled exploitation of the consumers by the manufacturers and the importers. I call on the government to tame and contain the greed of manufacturers and importers for maximum profits regardless of public welfare, and civilize all corporations, particularly multi-national corporations, to their public responsibility to the country and people to help check inflation by settling for lower profit margins. The government must be more tough and hard on the manufacturers and importers if the consumers are to free themselves from the exploitation and grip of greedy profit-maximisers.

2. Dr. Lim Chong Eu and Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’ s many political clothes and stands

Two weeks ago, at a public rally in Kampar, I called on Dr. Lim Chong Eu and Dr. Lim Keng Yaik of the Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia to declare their stand on Chinese education in Malaysia. I had then hazarded the guess that they would not dare to declare their stand, as they would then be exposed as men no different from the MCA.

I have waited for two weeks, and although Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and Dr. Lim Chong Eu have not declared their stand, I would give them another chance to do so.

Politics is not a question of personalities but firm political conviction and principles. It is easy to be a colourful political personality. In fact, the more a politician changes his political clothes and political stands, the more colourful he is as a personality.

I am not saying that there may not be reasons for modifying one’ s political view, but every such change of political view must be the result of solid reasons which must be subject to public criticism and questioning to determine as to whether they are the result of sincere reconsideration or the child of sheer political opportunism.

It was not so long ago that Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was stumping the whole country declaring that the salvation of the Malaysian Chinese lies solely through the road of Chinese unity. Even at that time, the DAP has not seen eye to eye with Dr. Lim Keng Yaik’ stand.

But now, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik seems to have changed his attitude and is playing a different tune? – that the Chinese salvation does not lie in Chinese unity.

Dr. Lim Keng Yaik has not yet publicly accounted for this political turnabout although he was at full liberty to do so for the last six months.

To be fair to people, Dr. Lim Keng Yaik should tell the people squarely whether he still believes in the Chinese Unity concept, or whether he has abandoned it.

I also remember that when Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was forced out of the Cabinet, he and the so-called MCA reform group swore that at the next elections they would concentrate on contesting in the seats of MCA Ministers and MCA members of Parliament.

Let Dr. Lim Keng Yaik and his reform group again tell the people whether this pledge of theirs still hold good, or whether they have now decided that the MCA Ministers are good Malaysians whom they should help, whether directly or indirectly, to secure their re-election?