DAP calls for establishment of All-Party Commission to prevent vote-buying by candidates at the next general elections

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP Public Rally at Dato Kramat grounds, Penang, on Sunday, 19th May 1974 at 9 p.m.

1. DAP calls for establishment of All-Party Commission to prevent vote-buying by candidates at the next general elections

The last few weeks have been full of press stories about vote-buying in UMNO to enable the ambitions in UMNO to get elected to various party posts and to jockey for candidatures for the coming general elections.

In fact, a special committee has been set up in the UMNO to inquire into all these incidents of vote-buying in UMNO, which has happened throughout the country.

I am not surprised that there has been vote-buying in the UMNO. In fact, this is not a new development, but had been a feature of UMNO and Alliance internal politics right from the early days.

Politics in Malaysia has been regarded by many in the ruling parties as the avenue to self-advancement and enrichment. They regard politics as an investment, in the same way that businessman invest in business ventures, and expect to reap great dividends from such investments.

That is way we see around us many National Front politicians, who, before their participation in politics, were men of ordinary means. But after their involvement in politics, after being elected as Member of Parliament or State Assemblymen, they quickly join the class of the rich and wealthy.

What is of greater concern to the people at large is not vote-buying for position inside the UMNO, but vote-buying in general elections and by-elections.

In the past, candidates from the ruling parties have resorted to open vote-buying to ensure their election. this is why although there is a statutory limit to the election expenditures for every parliamentary and state candidate, these election laws are never observed by Alliance candidates.

Where opposition candidates my spend $5,000 for a parliamentary constituency election, the ruling party would easily spend $100,000. In some areas, voters would be offered cash as an inducement o secure their votes.

This is an open secret, which should be abolished if the government is really concerned about the debasement and corruption of politics for personal gains.

As the general elections is around the corner, probably it will be held in less than three months, I suggest that an all-party commission be formed to find ways and means to effectively abolish vote-buying in the general elections.

This will not only curb opportunism and corruption in Malaysian politics, but will raise the integrity of politicians, for politics must not be seen as an avenue to acquire greater wealth, but as a sacrifice and dedication by public-spirited Malaysians to serve the public welfare and the nation.

2. DAP calls for establishment of an Oil industry Commission to go into the whole question of oil pricing to protect the interests of the consumers form exploitation by the multi-national oil corporations

Last week, the government approved, twice in six months, another hefty increases in the prices of oil and petroleum products, which can only add to the fuel of inflation in the country, slash further the purchasing power of the low-income groups, while the oil companies make record-breaking profits.

on 17th February 1974, at the Selangor DAP State Convention in Kuala Lumpur, I called on political parties, consumer movements, trade unions and public organisations to form a united front to campaign against another round of oil price increases.

The next day the Minister of Primary Industries, Datuk Haji Taib Mahmud, advised the public to ignore rumours of petrol price increases.

Unfortunately, the consumer associations, trade unions and political parties did not respond to the proposal for united action against another round of oil price increases.

In fact, I have come to the view that the FOMCA, or Federation of Malaysian Consumer’s Association, need a more dynamic leadership which is prepared to stand up to the government. At present the president of the FOMCA is Mohamed Sopiee, who is a government man, and this probably explains why the FOMCA had failed to take a strong stand against another round of price increase for petrol.

Large sections of Malaysians are still not convinced that the oil price increases are justified. In fact, on the very day that the Minister of Primary Industries, Dato Taib Mahmud, announced government approval for the big price jumps in oil products, the Royal Dutch Shell reported record profits during the first quarter of this year from its international operations. Shell made profits totaling $1,818 million during the first three month of 1974 compared to $652 million in the same period of 1973. Esso and other international oil majors have make similar record-breaking profits, when oil prices are going up, doubling and trebling their profits.

There is no economic and social justification for another round of price increases for oil, adding to the hardships of the poor, when the oil companies are making unprecedented profits.

Malaysians are captive victims of the five international oil companies, namely Shell, Esso, Caltex, Mobil and British-Petroleum, which among themselves monopolise the oil market, from importing of crude oil, to refining, marketing and distributing, and above all, in price-fixing.

The government officials, who do not possess the knowledge and expertise about the policy and economics of oil pricing, at all stages of the petroleum industry, are no match in negotiations with the international oilmen. This is why we in the DAP are opposed to secret negotiations between the government and the oil companies on oil price increases, for the government officials cannot avoid being taken for a ride. Furthermore, secret talks excluded consumers and interested public organisations from starting their case against price increases.

There is a public need for the establishment of an Oil Industry Commission, to publicly go into the whole question of oil pricing at every level by the multi-national oil corporations operating in Malaysia. Let the international oil majors, Shell, Esso, Mobil, British Petroleum and Caltex, produce fatcs and figures to the Malaysian public to justify two big price increases in six months. The government should stop acting as guardians of the oil companies, but should start acting as guardians of the public interest, as what is in the best interest of the oil companies is not necessarily in the best interest of the people of Malaysia. The government should also realise that “he who decides a case without hearing the other side …. Through he decides justly, cannot be considered just.”