Tengku Razaleigh to be asked in Parliament whether the creation of Malay millionaires is the Barisan Nasional’s solution to Malay poverty

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General Lim Kit Siang when speaking at a meet-the-people session held at Balai Raya Alor Gajar, Malacca, on Friday, 14th October 1977 at 8 p.m.

Tengku Razaleigh to be asked in Parliament whether the creation of Malay millionaires is the Barisan Nasional’s solution to Malay poverty

In Malaysia, economic growth has been accompanied by increasing economic inequality. For instance, in the period between 1957-1970, although the Gross National Product has more than doubled, the share of the total household income of the bottom 20% families have declined from a pitiful 5.8% to 4%; while the top 10% have increased their share from 34% to 40%.

We are entering the eighth year of the New Economic Policy which is professed to be aimed at eradicating poverty and restructuring society. The underlying flaw of the New Economic Policy is that it is aimed at creating a class of Malay millionaires to keep company with non-Malay millionaires.

In the Malaysia Day issue of the Hong Kong weekly, the Far Eastern Economic Review, it was reported that since Merdeka the government has succeeded in creating more than 100 Malay millionaires.

The creation of Malay millionaires is however completely irrelevant to the problem of solving Malay poverty in particular and Malaysian poverty in general. In fact, this manner of restructuring, which increases the class conflict in the country, including among the Malays, is likely to decrease rather than increase national unity.

In the forthcoming meeting of Parliament, I have asked the Finance Minister, Tengku Razaleigh, the following question, which I hope he would be able to answer frankly:

“To ask the Minister of Finance to state how many Malay millionaires have been created by the Government since Merdeka, and whether the creation of Malay millionaires is the solution to Malaysian poverty in general and Malay poverty in particular.”

The political and economic elites from the ruling parties in the Barisan Nasional have now become the new colonialists in Malaysia – exploiting the nature resources of the country for their benefit,

Vast tracts of land are acquired by a handful of political leaders and their relatives, as in Sri Lingga affairs in Kuala Sungai Bahru, in Malacca and other states; while the genuine landless from the peasants and fishermen are denied of their right t a piece of land to till the soil.

Merdeka has meant opportunities for economic advancement and acquisition of fortunes for the political and economic elites in the Barisan Nasional parties; while for the masses, merdeka has meant no economic liberation nor political freedom.

It is the task of the DAP to unite and mobilise workers, peasants and fishermen to give meaning to Merdeka, so that Merdeka is no mere empty slogan, but given content in terms of economic and political liberation from the chains and fetters of exploitation and suppression which have held the people down up till now.