Call on Datuk Hussein Onn, to take action against profiteering by importers

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at the general meeting of the Malacca Division of the DAP Youth Movement on Saturday, 23rd February 1974 at 10 a.m.

1. Call on Datuk Hussein Onn, to take action against profiteering by importers who make 100 per cent profits.

Early this week, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, announced that the government was to take “immediate and urgent measures” to check hoarding and profiteering

This is not the first time that he government has announced steps to fight profiteering and hoarding but up to date, all government measures to fight profiteering and check price increases have failed. Whether the present government measures against hoarding and profiteering will also fail, only time will tell.

However, if the government is to succeed in its war against profiteering and hoarding, then it must prove that it has the will and determination to take action against those, however wealthy or influential they may be, who are guilty of anti-social acts like hoarding and profiteering.

Last August, the Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, said in a speech in Seremban that one of the major causes of inflation is the profiteering by importers who insist on a profit margin “of the order of 100 per cent or even more.”

Tun Tan had then said that Malaysia is probably one of the most cartel-ridden countries in the world.

But the government diagnosis about the cause of inflation was not followed up by action. In fact, since August last year, there appears to be deliberate government silence on the matter.

We know that the large importers are all wealthy and influential people, who form the backbone in Alliance election financing. With the approach of the coming elections, the large importers will all be making very hefty contributions to the Alliance election fund.

The government silence and softness on the large importers must be explained, or the people will draw their own conclusions.

Now that the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, is heading the new campaign against hoarding and profiteering, I call on him to take action against importers who are guilty of profiteering by manipulating prices to maintainp profit margins to the order of 100 per cent or even more.

The government must realise that one of the chief causes of inflation in Malaysia is that manufacturers and importers want to capitalise on this period of inflation, not only to maintain their previous high level of profitability, but even exceed their previous profit margins, in utter disregard of the hardships caused to the poor and the consumers.

I call on Datuk Hussein Onn not to permit such irresponsible and unbridled exploitation of the consumers by the manufactures and importers. The government must tame and contain the greed of manufacturers and importers for maximum profits regardless of public welfare, and civilize all business corporations to their public responsibility to help check inflation by settling for lower profit margins.

Datuk Hussein Onn, should, therefore, go for the sharks in profiteering.

2. Government should issue a directive to all private employers to pay COLA to their workers

The prices in Malaysia have gone mad! Prices of essential items like rice, cooking oil, foodstuffs and clothings change, not from year to year, but virtually from day to day. A loaf of bread becomes more and more expensive, while at the same time, becoming smaller and smaller!

The Malaysian Chinese have just passed a Chinese New Year, and it is no exaggeration to say that this was the most difficult Chinese New Year for the poor and low-income, where one Malaysian dollar cannot buy 50 cents of things as compared to the previous Chinese New Year.

The workers and those drawing fixed and low-incomes are very badly affected, for while the price of all things are rising rapidly, their purchasing power is dwindling day by day.

To help the working and salaried class, the government should immediately issue a directive to all private employers to pay COLA or special relief allowance, unless the managements can demonstrate and prove their inability to pay because of business losses.

During the Budget debate in the recent session of Parliament, T urged the government to revise upwards the wages of some 180,000 unorganised workers who are governed by Wages Council Orders. These workers include shop-assistants, catering and hotel workers, cinema workers, Penang’s stevedoring and cargo-handling workers.

With the present frightening rate of inflation, it is clear that the minimum wages governing these 180,000 workers will not be able to make their ends meet.

To my suggestion that all these minimum wage orders should be revised upwards by 20 percent, the Minister of Labour Tan Sri V. Manickavasagam, later ordered the Wages Councils to meet to discuss the matter.

Over two months have now passed, and there is still no news of an upward revision for the 180,000 workers governed by the Wages Council Regulations. I call on the Labour Minister not to delay any more, but to take the hardships of the 180,000 workers and their dependants into consideration, and immediately upgrade the minimum wages with retrospective effect.

3. DAP Youth: Its role

Since its formation last year, the DAP Youth Movement has been making progress in getting itself properly organised. Its main task is to help on spreading the socialist consciousness of the people, and especially among the Malaysian youths, who comprise 60 per cent of the population, to give them a sense of national purpose.

The DAP is basically a very youthful political organisation, which explains for our resilience, stamina and vigour in our political struggle in the last eight years’ of our existence. But those of us who started right from the beginning in 1966 are already eight years older, and we need a constant infusion of new blood and youthful ideas.

For this reason, the DAP places great importance on the role of the DAP Youth Movement, and in the next general elections which is not far away, we will field candidates in State and Parliamentary constituencies from the DAP Youth Movement.