Sri Lingga Affair – Blatant Case of High-Level political leaders making use of public positions and resources for their self-benefit.

Speech by DAP State Assemblyman for KUBU, Lim Kit Siang, in the Malacca State Assembly on 26th Nov, 1975 on his motion.

Sri Lingga Affair – Blatant Case of High-Level political leaders making use of public positions and resources for their self-benefit.

I rise to move the following motions. That the House, to ensure that the kampong people in Kuala Sungai Baru and the surrounding areas are not exploited by a small group of well-to-do and influential Bumiputras, resolves that the State Government take back the 3,300 acres of land allocated to Syarikat Sri Lingga Sdn. Bhd. in Kuala Sungai Baru, so that the land could be used to bring direct benefits to the people in Kuala Sungai Baru and the surrounding areas by directly alienating to the kampong people either for collective or co-operative means of agricultural development.

The Sri Lingga Affair highlights the many things that is wrong with the Barisan Nasional economic policies and programmes. It is first a blatant example of the betrayal of the New Economic Policy objective to eliminate poverty; secondly, an example of the betrayal of the second-pronged objective of the New Economic Policy to restructure society, for the second-pronged objective of the New Economic Policy is being used more and more as an instrument by the Malay rich and influential to exploit and oppress the Malay poor. Thirdly, it is an example of the misuse and abuse of power and public responsibilities by those holding high political positions to make use of their public office to enrich themselves.

In this particular case the State Government allocated 3,300 acres of state land in Kuala Sungai Baru to a bumiputera company comprised of six directors, against the wishes of the kampong people, who are sad to say, the Chief Minister’s own constituents.

In a memorandum which a group of residents sent to the Chief Minister in protest against the allocation of the 3,300 acres of Kuala Sungai Baru, they said:

“Negeri Melaka (khasnya di Kuala Sungai Baru) tidak ada tanah lain lagi untuk rakyat miskin seperti kami.”

“Kami tidak mahu hak rakyat miski dibahagi-bahagikan kepada sebarang syarikat yang kaya-kaya……”

“Kami tidak sanggup melihat enam orang menjadi kaya sedangkan ada seramai 60,000 orang lain hidup terancam.”

“Kami berharap apa yang telah dijanjikan kepada kami 10 ke 15 tahun dulu dapar dilaksanakan oleh pemimpin-pemimpin kami pada masa sekarang, supaya kami tidak terpedaya dengan janji-janji kosong sahaja.”

“Di Malaysia ada badan-badan berkaum Kerajaan yang boleh memberikan pertolongan kepada kami, oleh itu diharap Kerajaan Negeri Melaka akan dapat menggunakan badan-badan ini bagi menolong kami rakyat miskin.”

During question time yesterday, the Chief Minister said that another 300 acres available in Kuala Sungai Baru for the people there. It is clear that 300 acres for the 60,000 kampong people in that region is grossly inadequate.

The Chief Minister also said that the 3,300 acres was alienated to Syarikat Sri Lingga Sdn. Bhd. because it was the only company to apply for the land , and that the alienation was granted through normal, regular procedures.

In the first place, is it the normal procedure to alienate 3,300 acres of State land at the ridiculously low premium of $10 on acre, which means that the 3.300 acres of precious, scarce State and has been given to six directors for a mere $33,300, so that they can later go public and sell it as $3,000 an acre, or bringing in a total receipt of $9.9 million. In other words, these six directors are going to become six multi-millionaires, thanks to the State Government.

The State Government and the Malacca UMNO has accused the people in Kuala Sungai Baru who opposed the Sri Lingga allocation as traitors of the race. The Chief Minister had argued that the Sri Lingga allocation is in line with the New Economic Policy objective of achieving 39 per cent bumiputera participation in commerce and industry, and as there is not a single Malay estate in Malacca, this allocation is justified.

This argument cannot be accepted and must be rejected in toto for it is an argument which tantamount to saying that since there are no Malay multi-millionaires in Malacca, public funds and public resources, like land, should be given to a handful of lucky Malays so that they can become multi-millionaires. I know there are many in power who argue that the poor Malays would feel happier and more contented if they see more rich Malays, even if the Malay poor do not get enough to eat. I challenge these UMNO political leaders to go to the kampong and ask for the view of the kampong Malays.

What makes the whole allocation more objectionable is that the six fortunate, chosen to become Malay multi-millionaires, at the expense of the poor, are all well-connected with the present UMNO State leadership.

One of the six directors is a Senior Member of State Government, and State Executive Councillor, Tuan Abdul Ghani bin Ishak himself.

When the Government backers investigated a counter demonstration in the Assembly on Nov. 1 to reply to the memorandum I mentioned earlier, the Chief Minister said that the State Government had decided to give the land to the bumiputra company, Sri Lingga, about a year ago because it had proved its capabilities in developing the land into an oil palm estate.

That was on Nov. 1. 1975. I have caused a search to be made in the Registrar of Companies, Kuala Lumpur, and the search revealed that the Memorandum and Articles of association of Sri Lingga Sdn. Bhd. was signed on 8th Nov. 1974, and was incorporated under the Akta Syarikat 1965 only on 30th Nov 1974 – No. Syarikat: 3478 / 74

I want to ask, how could the State Government have decided to give land to Sri Lingga Sdn. Bhd about a year ago because it had proved its capabilities in developing the land into an oil palm estate, when a year before, Syarikat Lingga Sdn. Bhd. had not existed at all, and could have no history of record in land development.

This rebuts the statement that the 3,300 acres of land in Kuala Sungai Baru was given through proper and legal channels.

What makes the whole affair abnoxious and come within abuse of government powers for own ends is that a State Executive Council member should be a director of the beneficiary company.

According to the Registry of Companies, the five original subscribers and directors are:

1. Md. Ali bin Md. Isa, teacher, Batu 25 ½, Ramuan China Kecil, Lubok China KP 2455154

2. Awaludin bin Katus, merchant, Batu 25 1/4 ,Ramuan China Kecil, Lubok China KP 0207975

3. Khamis bin Mohd. Sam, merchant, chef penghulu, Batu 32, Kuala Linggi, Kuala Sungai Baru, Melak. KP 2462145

4. Omar bin Hj. Gendut, merchant, Batu 23, Tanjong Bidara, Mesjid Tanah, KP 2455632

5. Awang bin Arshad, merchant, Kg. Air Jernih, Kuala Sungai Baru, KP 1993763

A new director, Abdul Ghani bin Ishak,c/o 53-c Jln. Ong Kim Wee KP 2456233 was appointed on 27.9.1975.

The secretary of the Syarikat was Khamis bin Md. Sam, one of the fire original directors, who resigned on 6.3.75 and was replaced by Idris bin Abdul Ghani, KP 4317245, of 2-A Lorong Gereja, who was appointed on 6.3.75.

Here, State Executive Council approved 3,300 acres of land to six persons, all of whom are we to-do and influential UMNO state leaders, one a Executive Councillor.

With this development, it is clear that other Exco Members could also be implicated. This is not only against the State Constitution which prohibits a State Executive Councillor from taking part in any trade, business or profession for which he is involved, but clearly gross impropriety amounting government position had been used for personal ends.

On the ground that the Sri Lingga allocation of 3,3000 acres betray both the two objectives of the New Economic Policy and amounts to gross misuse and abuse of high political positions for personal gain, I seriously urge and suggest that the Government accept this proposal. Failing this, in the interest of the kampong people of Kuala Sungai Baru, and in the interest of a clean honest administration and government, I can state we will not allow the matter rest here.