Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a reception for workers and supporters for the Seremban Parliamentary campaign during the general elections. The reception was held at Seremban, Century Hotel, on Friday, 6th Sept. 1974 at 7 p.m.
1. DAP calls for the immediate convening of Parliament in keeping with the formation of a cabinet with the motto of ‘action-oriented’ to debate the nation-building policies for the next five years
Tun Razak has formed his Cabinet, whose keynote theme is ‘action-oriented’. If this is the case, then I call on the Prime Minister to immediately convene a meeting of Parliament after the full completion of Sarawak general elections to debate the nation-building policies for the next five years.
The new National Front Government must take consideration the 41% of the voters who rejected the National Front candidates, for we must nurture a political process and system where by the people can express themselves politically instead of following orders imposed by a remote government, and where the government constantly review and adjust its policies to reflect the genuine feelings and desires of the people.
There are deep-seated dissatisfaction, frustration and discontent both in the rural and urban areas, and these popular grievances of the people must be resolved if a firm national unity and national consciousness is to be established.
The urgency of the Parliamentary meeting is further prompted by the need for a thorough debate on the scandalous manner in which the 1974 General Elections was held where hundreds of thousands of eligible voters are arbitrarily and without good cause removed from the electoral register; and where further hundreds of thousands who have reached the voting age are not registered and therefore denied the chance to exercise their fundamental right to vote and help in deciding the destiny of our people.
Clause 55 (4) of the Malaysian Constitution provided that whenever Parliament is dissolved, the new Parliament shall be summoned to meet on a date not later than 120 days from the date of dissolution. This will take us till the end of November, which is clearly too long a time.
Let us have an ‘action-oriented’ Cabinet and an ‘action-oriented Parliament ’ so that the problems and aspirations of the people can be fully discussed and debated in Parliament to ensure that the government and the ‘action-oriented’ Cabinet does not divorce itself from the realities of the people’s sufferings in the rural and urban areas.
2. Call on the new Minister for Labour and Manpower, Lee San Choon, to declare whether he proposes to introduce legislation to fix statutory minimum wages for workers to protect them from exploitation by foreign and local capitalists.
For the last five years in Parliament, my parliamentary colleagues and I in the Dewan Rakyat had pressed for the introduction of statutory minimum wages to protect workers from exploitation by foreign and local capitalists and end the shameful situation where workers are paid $1.20 or $1.50 a day to enable the industries to make huge profits at the end of the year. When I raised this matter again in the last meeting of Parliament in July, the former Labour Minister, Tan Sri Manickavasagam, said the government was considering this matter. I now call on the new Labour Minister, Lee San Choon, to make a policy statement whether he proposes to introduce legislation in the Fourth Session of Parliament to fix statutory minimum wages for workers, or whether the previous promises of looking into this matter is mere general elections gimmick, to be forgotten after polling day.