Malaysian youths and youth organisations should speak up for civil rights and against social injustice in the nation

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the first meeting of the Second DAP National Youth Council at Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 12th May 1974 at 10.30 a.m.

Malaysian youths and youth organisations should speak up for civil rights and against social injustice in the nation

Malaysian youths and youth organisations should speak up bravely for civil rights and social justice in the country, and loudly and fearlessly oppose all acts which trample on fundamental human rights to liberty, speech, belief and assembly and all forms of social injustice which sap the nation’s capability and to become a united, harmonious and purposive society.

Early this year, the students the University Kebangsaan exposed the corruption in public life, especially in the State of Selangor, where land was used as a source for the accumulation of riches by a few well-placed persons.

Corruption is the cancer in Malaysia, and despite the establishment of the National Bureau of Investigation, corruption in high places in Malaysia have not lessened. In actual fact, corruption seemed to have become more rampant. We see National Front men rising to great richer within a short period of time, and the NBI closes its eye although all these instances of unexplained wealth and fortune should be made the subjects of NBI investigations.

A matter of grave concern of late is the degree to which civil rights of the people are being ignored by the authorities. Freedom of speech, of assembly and form arbitrary arrest are becoming concepts which are foreign to Malaysia.

Last month, the police were pretty brutal in the way they broke up the demonstration by ITM students, and at least 50 students, including girl students, were injured, some in very serious condition.

According to the ITM students, the government has agreed to an inquiry into the police brutalities. I hope that such an inquiry would be a public one, and that those guilty of brutalities would be brought to book and punished, to demonstrate clearly that Malaysia is not a police state.

This is not the first time that the police has acted brutally against unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. In January this year, aged parents and relatives of Batu Gajah detainees were brutally manhandled when they had a demonstration at Jalan Mountbatten to appeal to the Government to solve the hunter-strike by their political detainees in Batu Gajah. The Government has not held any inquiry into such police brutalities, nor into the serious and documented allegations of police brutalities in the Batu Gajah detention camp in December to February this year, which caused the 47-day hunger strike by over 200 detainees.

In Malaysia, the mass media, whether television, radio or the rests, are coming into greater control by the authorities. This is very unhealthy, for a democracy must mean a society where there can be a free play for public opinion to influence government decisions and policies, to prevent the government from becoming too inflexible and rigid, and unresponsive to the aspirations and wishes of the police.

Youths in Malaysia should therefore step up their campaign to ensure that in Malaysia, there is a serious attack on corruption in public life, for the liberalization of all the controls which inhibit full civil rights and basic freedoms of the people, so that the country they inherit will be a country which is free form the triple curses of corruption, social injustice and denial of human rights.