Speech by DAP Secretary-General and ketua Pembangkang, Lim Kit Siang, at the anniversary diner of the Jalan Pekeliling DAP Branch held at the Multi-Storey Car Park Restaurant, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday, 26th September, 1976, at 8.00 p.m.
DAP calls for comprehensive nation-building policy reviews to make Malaysia ann attractive investment country for both foreign and local investors.
A week ago, the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, said the government was prepared to amend the Industrial Co-ordination Act and the Petroleum Development Act to attract more foreign investment.
For over a year, the investment climate in Malaysia had been unfavourable. There was not only no foreign investment, local investors shied away from new investments. As a result, we had the spectacle of drying up of foreign inflow accompanied by domestic capital outflow.
Two outstanding causes had been the Industrial Co-ordination Act and the Petroleum Development Act. But these were not the only sources of lack of confidence in the investment climate of Malaysia for both foreign and local investments.
The crux of the question is the stability of Malaysia as a viable nation – in other words, whether Malaysia will be able to protect and safeguard foreign and local investments through the maintenance of law and order and peaceful conditions. This depends on the degree of national unity and stability among the diverse people in the country, and the determination and commitment of the government of the day to socially stabilizing goals, like social justice and equality.
This is why in Thailand, there is not only hardly any new foreign investment, but a serious and steady outflow of Thai capital – although Thailand does not have its counterpart of Industrial Co-ordination Act or Petroleum Development Act.
To make Malaysia an attractive investment country for both foreign and local investors, Malaysia must be able to convince, not only foreigners but Malaysians, that Malaysia can escape national division, conflict, unrest and a serious insurrection in the years ahead.
This can only be done through a comprehensive nation-building policy review to remove the sources of disunity among Malaysians, in areas of education, economic policy, political system, cultural policy.
So long as the government continue to ignore the deep-seated dissatisfaction of substantial sections of the population about the government’s nation building policy on economic policy, education, politics, culture, so long will the conditions for attractive investment climate be absent.
Investors in such conditions, without an assurance of long-term stability, would demand rapid short-term recovery of their capital investment with a big profit as well.
This can only be achieved by allowing investors freedom to exploit workers and local conditions, which in the long run will be even more de-stabilising, and create even more unrest.
The Government would be making a mistake if instead of creating a durable investment climate by reviewing and modifying economic, political, educational and cultural policies to remove the causes of social unrest and national division, it allows foreign and local investors to exploit workers to get a quick return for the capital investment.
This is why the DAP opposed so strongly the Employment (Amendment) Bill in July meeting of Parliament, for by taking away the limited rights of workers, and making Malaysia more attractive to foreign investors, there will be greater labour unrest in the future.
It is a pity that there is not a single Cabinet Minister, who has had a labour background, who can understand clearly the important role of workers in national development. Workers must be treated as an equal partner in economic development – and not as chattels to be exploited by the management for the profit margin.
In fact, the component parties in the government are generally hostile to workers’ cause. This is why in August, a MCA spokesman in the Senate, even went to the extent to call on the government to ban strikes.
I therefore call on the Prime Minister to initiate a comprehensive nation-building policy review to make Malaysia an attractive investment country for both foreign and local investors, as the amendments to the Industrial Co-ordination Act and the Petroleum Development Act are not enough.