Government mismanagement and inefficiency through Barisan Nasional “planning”

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, at the meeting of the Federal Territory and Selangor State Sub-Committee held in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 16th August 1977 at 8p.m.

Government mismanagement and inefficiency through Barisan Nasional “planning”

Every five years, the ruling party carries out a highly-publicised exercise to impress and dazzle the people with an ever—thickening Five Year Plan stacked with promises, words and figures.

Although Members of Parliamentary of both Houses debated and passed the Five Year Plans, it is unlikely that more than a handful had really read substantial portions of the Plan, not to mention reading ‘from cover to cover’. But then Barisan Nasional MPs are not required or expected to read, digest or understand government publications, but are well-trained in the art, not only of voting, but speaking in support of Government Reports and Documents even without having read them.

The best example was the debate in January this year on the Mahathir Cabinet Report on the Ibrahim Ali Commission Report, where one after another of the Barisan Nasional MPs rose in the Dewan Rakyat to make fierce speeches supporting that they could not have read the voluminous Mahathir Report which was tabled only a few hours before the debate.

Malaysia, under the Barisan Nasional and Alliance government, has had four five –years plans. One would have expected that after these four five-year plans, each of which was launched with such fanfare and trumpeting, that Mal
aysianmajoriys would be enjoying excellent government services.

The truth is the reverse. Hardly a day passes without Malaysians being reminded, either from personal experience, or through press reports, of the government mismanagement and inefficiency which had resulted from Barisan Nasional ‘planning’.

Off-hand, just to leaf through press reports of the past few days, we have the following fruits of Barisan Nasional ‘ planning’ :

1. In Port Klang, more than 2,000 containers, many of them packed with completely-knocked down parts, medicine and food, are waiting to be cleared at the container terminal. It takes only about 18 days for a ship to sail from Europe via the Suez Canal to Port Klang, but when the ship arrives, it takes almost a month for the containers to be sent to the consignee. Not to mention the reputation of Port Klang as the ‘Black Port of the East’ because of the phenomenal rate of theifs, losses and breakages suffered by consignors or consignees.

2. Malaysians from more and more parts of Malaysia are finding water supplies a daily frustration and nightmare. Two days ago, in Kuantan, thousands of the residents went without water when water supplies were cut off by the PWD without over warning. The plight of residents in Kuala Lumpur, PJ and Klang the daily suffering oover water supplies typifies the failure of Barisan Nasional ‘ planning’.

3. In Kuantan, low-income Malaysians who use motor-cycles as an essential means of transport or as an important means in their livelihood suffered considerable hardships and financial losses when the RIMV office there ran out of six-month licence discs.

4. In Chemor, Perak thousands of people queued up to buy kerosene but the majority were turned away because the stock had run out. Villagers from Ulu chemor, Ulu Klang, Kampong Chemor and Kampong Baru Kanthan are badly hit – but all that the Department of Trade and Industry can do is to deny there was a shortage.

These incidents multiply by their thousands throughout the country, and are occurring with every increasing frequency in every area of government, whether it be social services, health, education, or economic development, in industry or agriculture.

There is growing indifference and distance between the government and the governed. In my mind, the basic problem stems from the political leadership of the Barisan Nasional at the State and Federal levels, for it is the political leadership in the government which sets the tone in the public service.

Politics and public office are regarded, not as noble opportunities to serve the people and country, but as the fastest short-cuts to join the class of new rich. Wherever we go in any corner in Malaysia, the people can point to political leaders in the government who have become rich and wealthy because of political positions and the opportunities opened up by them.

The entire government service needs a shaking up. But the shaking up cannot take place unless and until there is a completely shake-up of the political leadership at Federal and State levels, setting the example of self-less public service.

MCA and Meritocracy

Recently, the MCA leaders seem to be competing with each other in making unusually less timid speeches. This is probably because of the MCA elections next week, as those who have political ambitions for the next general elections seek to gain a foothold in the party leadership.

What is unvarying however is that these less timid statements and speeches, which also occur before each general elections, are never raised in the State Assemblies or more important in Parliament. In fact, an examination of the Parliamentary and State Assembly records of MCA MPs and State Assemblymen show that they are wont to say one thing outside Parliament and State Assemblies but do the exact opposite in Parliament and the State Assemblies.

A week ago, the MCA President, Datuk Lee San Choon, spoke of the need of ‘meritocracy’ in Malaysia cannot agree with him more. If meritocracy is the criterion of political leadership, the MCA leaders and Ministers would be never held the positions they hold today.