by Ketua Pembangkang and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, on Friday, 9th Sept. 1977:
Call to Malaysia Fancy Plywood and Veneer Company to immediately pay out to its 460 workers half-monthly salary for every month of cessation of work to enable the workers to pay fitrah and tide over the Hari Raya period
Two days ago, I dispute the claim by the Malaysia Fancy Plywood and Veneer Company that it was making heavy losses. My challenge to the company to open its accounts for public inspection and examination to prove that it was making heavy losses have not been taken up.
The public can therefore judge for themselves the truth or otherwise of this statement.
Hari Raya Puasa is only five or six days away. The Malaysia Fancy Plywood and Veneer Company, which had a former Labour Minister Bahaman Samsuddin as deputy managing director, should stop evading its responsibility to its workers and pay out to every worker half-month salary for every month of cessation of work.
This is very urgent, if the Malay workers numbering over 300 are to be able to pay the fitrah. One worker tells me that she has 10 children, and at the rate of $1.70 fitrah per head, she does not know where she was going to find this money in so short a time. The company’s proposed $30 loan for the entire period of breakdown, which may be five or six months, is too ridiculous for words.
I am aware that since its formation in 1968 as a pioneer industry enjoying all the tax benefits, this company had been able to get the support and influence of highly-placed officials in the government and Ministry of Labour.
In fact, it would appear that the workers have to fight, not against one former Labour Minister, Bahaman Samsuddin, but against two other Labour Ministers, namely the present one, Dato Lee San Choon, and another former Labour Minister who is still in the Cabinet.
I hope it would not be necessary for me to publicly expose how this management had been able to use its influence to get things done, even if these things are against the very interest of the workers.
For instance, I know that among the shareholders of this company are the children of one Minister of the Cabinet.
I am surprised how various government investigations into the company’s affairs in the past had come to nothing.
Dato Lee San Choon seems to be incapable of doing anything. I call on the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammad, to intervene and help the workers. This case is a test case of the government’s sincerity in wanting to bring about social justice.