Concerned about the sharp increase in the incidence of violence among youths all over the country.

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, to the DAP Youth Council Meeting at Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 7th August 1975 at 8 p.m.

Concerned about the sharp increase in the incidence of violence among youths all over the country.

It is a matter of grave concern that recently, there has been a sharp increase in the number of incidents involving among youths and teenagers in the country.

Towns which had been peaceful have been turned into warring grounds between rival gangs involving mostly teenagers. In fact, in some towns, thins have become so bad that in certain areas of these towns, the people dare not go to for fear of being involved in these incidents of violence.

It will be a grave error to regard this new social phenomenon as a criminal problem, for no one is born a criminal, but only becomes one by circumstances. The question Malaysian leaders must ask is, why are there more and more teenagers in the towns involved in violence, and what is even more disturbing, involved with a sense of desperation.

In my mind, one cause for this disturbing state of affairs is the failure of the towns to provide social and economic security and satisfaction to more and more youngsters.

Unemployment continues to be higher in the urban areas than in the rural areas, and this is aggravated by a higher rate of growth in the urban population than the rural population. Thus in the intercensal years between 1957 and 1970, the urban population has grown annually by 3.3% and the rural population by 2.4%. The rural drift of people to the towns has aggravated the development of urban slums.

Economists and sociologists are agreed that urban unemployment is more onerous than rural unemployment. The social tensions and unrest associated with unemployment will generally be higher in the case of urban unemployed, partly because of the links of the family system, partly because of a higher money income is required to maintain the same level of wellbeing, and party because the level of aspiration- or what has been called ‘demonstration effect’ – will usually be more marked.

The question of increasing incidence of youthful violence must be seen in this perspective, and the decreasing and ending of such youthful violence can only be tackled from an overall approach which first of all solves the acute problem of urban poverty, especially among the jobless youths.

I call on the government to stop encouraging the rural migration into the towns until the problem of urban poverty is bought into check, or the level and intensity of violence in the towns will mount, underming the whole society.