Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the first meeting of DAP Perak Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen at Kuala Lumpur Branch on Sunday, 15 th Sept. 1974 at 2 p.m.
1. DAP calls for the implementation of Clause 45(4)(b) of the Malaysian Constitution to have Senators elected by the people
By the end of this month, there will be a total of 18 vacancies in the Dewan Negara when two more Senators complete their terms. Out of the present 16 vacancies, seven Senators resigned to contest the general elections (with Datuk Wong Seng Chow and Mr. Thomas Kana failing to be elected into the Dewan Rakyat), eight others completed their terms recently while another has died.
Since the establishment of the Dewan Negara, the Senate has been used as a dumping ground for political rejects and has-beens, going against the very principle and objectives of having a Second Chamber to debate and review with greater depth legislative measures coming up from the Dewan Rakyat.
The DAP is of the strong view that in filling these 18 vacancies, those who were defeated in the 1974 general elections should not be appointed so as not to make the Senate a mockery of democracy in Malaysia. Only men who have “rendered distinguished public service or have achieved distinction in the professions, commerce, industry, agriculture, cultural activities or social service or are representative of racial minorities or are capable of representing the interests of aborigines ” should be appointed, all the new appointees must not be political appointments. To avoid suspicion of a political appointment, it is best that active office holders in any of the component party in the Barisan should not be appointed.
There are two types of Senators, one appointed by the State and the other by the Federal government.
In this connection, I call for the implementation of Clause 45 (4)(b) of the Malaysian Constitution which provided that “Parliament may by law provide that the members to be elected for each State shall be so elected by the direct vote of the electors of that State. ”
An elective Senator will be able to represent the people in that State more effectively, for a study of the record of Senators in the Service of the people, public and the country since Independence must make very dismal reading.
Elective Senators will give greater meaning to representative government in Malaysia.
2. Lee Lam Thye and Ngan Siong Hing appointed as DAP Parliamentary Spokesmen on Labour
There is mounting industrial unrest throughout the country, stemming from the inability of the workers to lead a decent life on their meager wages and the fantastic in the country which has slashed the purchasing power of their meager incomes.
Employers and capitalists, local and foreign, have mainly concerned themselves with the maximisation of profits regardless of the economic hardships of the workers. In fact, workers are victimised, intimidated and dismissed when they tried to organise themselves into unions to protect their legitimate rights as provided under the law.
The labour laws which provided that workers have the right to organise and unionise themselves is defective, and afford no protect to the majority of workers attempting to organise themselves for the first time.
The new Minister of Labour and Manpower, Lee San Choon, has said that his Ministry is reviewing the labour laws and propose to introduce amendments to them. This is not the first time a Labour Minister has said this, and g will not be the last time.
What the workers of Malaysian are interested in is in a categorical statement from the Labour Minister as to when the government proposes to introduce amendments are.
I call on the Labour Minister to make public the various amendments which the Labour Ministry is considering. There is no reason why the Ministry’s deliberations should be kept a secret, as if its disclosure will, like budget secrets, make fortunes. There should be greater openness in the operations and thinking of the government departments.
If the Labour Minister cannot make public the details of the labour amendments, then we can only conclude that this is one of those empty promises, what has been figuratively described in the Chinese language as “Only hearing the steps on the stairs, but seeing nobody coming down.”
In this connection, I call on Lee San Choon to specifically declare whether he proposes to repeal the prohibition of trade unionists from holding political office, which is a shameful curtailment of the right of trade union leaders in the exercise of his political right.
The DAP gives special attention to the problem of the workers, particularly the large number of those who suffer from exploitation and suppression by irresponsible capitalists. For this reason, we have appointed two DAP Members of Parliament to be our Parliamentary spokesmen on Labour in the Dewan Rakyat, namely Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, M.P. for Kuala Lumpur Bandar and Sdr. Ngan Siong Hing, M.P. for Kinta.
All the nine DAP Members of Parliament will be required to specialise in certain fields of governmental affairs, and their detailed allocation of fields of specialisation will be announced in due course.