(Speech by the Parliamentary Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the 1980 Budget on October 22, 1979)
The 1980 Budget, presented by the Finance Minister, Tengku Razaleigh, has been generally well-received by the press and the people, in particular with regard to the long overdue increase of personal relief’s for individual taxpayers.
The DAP had consistently called for the upward revision of personal tax reliefs for individuals in this House, as the repeated bouts of inflation and the loss of the purchasing power of the ringgit since the formulation of the income tax laws in the 1940s have made the reliefs derisory! Although long overdue, we commend the Finance Minister for at long last taking heed of the crushing burden borne by the lower income brackets by revising the income tax personal reliefs to more realistic levels.
DAP opposes reduction of tax liability of high income brackets
But what is less understandable or deserving of support is the special solicitude shown by the Finance Minister to the high-earners. The Finance Minister has reduced the tax liability of the two top income brackets. Currently, chargeable income exceeding $50,000 but not exceeding $75,000 is taxed at the rate of 50% while income exceeding $75,000 is subject to a rate of 55%. The Finance Minister now proposes that chargeable income exceeding $50,000 but not exceeding $75,000 will be subject to a reduced rate of 45% and for income exceeding $75,000 but not exceeding $100,000, the rate will be 50%. For income exceeding $100,000 the rate will be 55%.
Bearing in mind that the increased personal reliefs benefit all taxpayers, regardless of income brackets, this downward revision of tax liability is a special $2 million gift from the Finance Minister to the high earners, whose monthly income ranges from $4,500 to $9,000 a month.
The Finance Minister justifies this special gift of $2 million to the high-income earners on the ground of “providing more incentive for work effort”. If the Finance Minister is genuinely interested in “providing more incentive for work effort” to all, then there must be a general downward revision of tax liability for all lower brackets of taxpayers.
This $2 million gift to the high income earners is completely unjustifiable, and could only be explained as the Finance Minister looking after his own class of people. In fact, if the Finance Minister is so set on making this $2 million gift to those whose chargeable incomes rage from $50,000 to $100,000, then he should further increase the tax liability of those above the $100,000 income level to re-coup this $2 million.
I call on the Finance Minister to reconsider this $2 million gift to the high income earners, and to amend his proposal when the Bill on changes to the income tax law is presented to this House in December. The Finance Minister should consider reducing the tax liability of those at the lower rungs of the income bracket – for such reduction will benefit all, including the high income brackets. At the same time, the Finance Minister should consider increasing the tax liability of those with incomes of $100,000 or more, so as to make the income tax laws in Malaysia more progressive and equitable.
The regressive feature of the Finance Minister’s income tax revisions could be seen from the following table, which gives a comparison of tax liability under the present and proposed reliefs for individual and wife at various income levels:
|Tax Payable ($)|
|Income||Present||Proposed|| Tax saving to
The principle of progressive taxation postulates that the better-off and higher-earning sections of the community should bear a proportionately heavier taxation burden as a means of achieving a fairer distribution of wealth and income. If this progressive principle is applied in the proposed income tax changes, then the higher-income groups; as it is the lower-income groups who are the most financially crushed.
But this is not the case. Thus a person with $10,000 income gets a tax saving of $225, while a person whose income is 10 times more gets a tax saving of $3300, which is 15 times more than the tax saving of the $10,000 income-earner. Here, a higher income earner benefits proportionately even more than the lower-income brackets, which makes it very retrogressive!
This exercise clearly runs counter to the Government declared objective of wanting to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor.
DAP Proposal that allowance for children educated abroad be increased to $8,000 to $12,000 a year depending on country of study
Compare this unsolicited generosity of a $2 million gift to the high-income earners and the rather niggardly doubling in the increase of allowance for children educated abroad. Under the 1980 Budget, the allowance for children educated abroad which currently is double the amount of children’s relief is now to be quadrupled, which will work out to only $1 million of foregone revenue.
Firstly, let me state that although personal reliefs for individual and wife have been increased, together with the introduction of a $1,000 relief for dependants, it is most disappointing that the reliefs for children have not been revised upwards to more realistic levels.
The present relief for children is:
During the Parliamentary debate on the 1975 budget on 20th November 1974, I had suggested that the relief for children should be increased, especially to benefit children from low-income groups, to $1,500 for the first child, $1,000 each for second and third child, and $600 each for fourth and fifth child. I commend these proposals again to the Finance Minister for consideration.
Educational expenses now constitute one of the biggest demands on the financial resources of the taxpayers, especially for the education of their children abroad because of the lack of university and post-secondary places in the country.
A New Sunday Times article yesterday gave the following approximate cost of overseas education for a Malaysian student per year:
|Australia||$ 12,000||$ 14,400|
|Britain||$ 12,500||$ 14,000|
|Canada||$ 9,000||$ 9,000|
|India||$ 1,800||$ 1,800|
|New Zealand||$ 8,000||$ 8,000|
|Singapore||$ 2,400||$ 2,400|
|United States||$ 15,000||$ 18,000|
|Malaysia||$ 2,400||$ 2,400|
I understand that the approximate cost of a student studying in Taiwan is about $ 8,000 a year.
Education is a human investment leading to greater national productivity and a major determinant of growth. Furthermore, to deny the people the means, through education, to develop their full human potential, leads not only to personal frustration, unhappiness, but also national division.
The citizen’s investment in the education of their children, is not only a personal investment, it is also an investment for national progress and development.
The Finance Minister’s proposal that allowance for children educated abroad, which is currently double the amount of children’s relief, should be quadrupled, is too meagre a proposal. For instance, the present maximum child’s relief for the first child is only $800, and four times this figure is only $ 3,200 – which is a far cry from the average annual expenses of from $ 8,000 to $ 15,000 per student, excluding countries like Singapore and India.
The DAP proposes therefore that for the sake of our children’s educational future and the country’s economic development, so long as Malaysia could not expand adequate higher education places to meet demands locally, the Government should increase allowance for children educated abroad to $ 8,000 to $ 12,000 a year, depending on the country of study.
Furthermore, the present form of allowance for children educated abroad discriminates against the very poor, who are not caught by the income tax net. Children of the very poor, who are not caught by the income tax net, will not be able to get any form of government assistances – and this is manifestly unjust.
The DAP calls on the Government to devise a special educational assistance to enable children of the very poor who are not caught by the income tax net to avail themselves of overseas education opportunities through a Scheme of Loan for Education Abroad, so that no one is denied of opportunities for higher education, even abroad, because of the lack of funds.
Malaysia’s strong economic showing cannot conceal the fact that Malaysia is living on borrowed time
It is public knowledge that more and more Barisan Nasional leaders are sending their children overseas for secondary and primary education, at an ever younger age. There is no reason why the public should support these well-to-do Barisan Nasional leaders, who have no confidence in their own education system which they regard as good enough for ordinary Malaysians but not for their children. When these children of Barisan Nasional leaders get up to university level, they will probably be getting government scholarships of one form or another.
The proposal I made earlier that allowance for children educated abroad be increased to $ 8,000 to $ 12,000 a year depending on country of study apply only with regard to college or university education.
Furthermore, to ensure that this earlier that allowance benefits those who are in real economic need, there should be a cut-off point in the income brackets where the well-off are not entitled to this allowance.
Otherwise, the Malaysian taxpayers will only be subsiding he rich and wealthy Barisan Nasional leaders to educate their children abroad at secondary and primary level.
Malaysia’s strong economic showing cannot conceal the fact that Malaysia is living on borrowed time
In his Budget speech, the Finance Minister said:
“3. I am happy to say that despite the international economic strains and monetary turmoil in the last few years, the Malaysian economy has performed remarkably well. This is ample testimony to our economic resilience and a tribute, not only to the sound and pragmatic socio-economic policies pursued by our Government, but also to the high endeavours of all sectors and levels of our society. This is why our economy performed so well this year with an estimated growth of over 8%.”
Malaysia’s present strong economic showing, however, cannot conceal the fact that Malaysia is living on borrowed time. Instead of basking on Malaysia’s current strong economic performance, we should make use of this opportunity to come to grips with some of the fundamental problems of the country’s economy and polity to lay a firm and solid foundation for a united and progressive Malaysia, to enable it to withstand whatever stresses and strains that may occur in an economic depression or slump.
Oil boom or oil doom?
Firstly, we must recognise the fact that Malaysia’s strong economic position is largely the result of oil money coming on-stream in a big way.
For instance, in 1979, the Government is estimated to net a total of $1,041 million of direct taxes from petroleum – made up of $ 877 million being petroleum income tax and $ 164 million being petroleum royalties / cash sales. This is a hefty increase of $ 155 million of direct taxes from petroleum as compared to 1978, which netted a total of $ 886 million of direct taxes from petroleum. When we consider that as recently as in 1971, the Government netted only a meagre $2 million of revenue from petroleum, the pivotal role of petroleum, which in 1979, will bring in $1,041 million to Treasury coffers can be fully appreciated.
In fact, by 1980, petroleum will not only overtake rubber as the biggest foreign exchange earner, but become biggest revenue earner for the Government. In 1980, the total direct taxes to be earned by petroleum for the Government would be the staggering figure of $1,478 million – made up of $1,233 million petroleum income tax, and $ 245 million petroleum royalties/ cash sales, representing 13% of the entire Government revenue from all sources.
The Government explained that the energy shortage created by the Iranian situation and the substantial price increase for the OPEC crudes, were the main factors that led to a strong growth in export value for crude petroleum in 1979. In the first six months of 1979, the export volume of crude petroleum amounted to 40.34 million barrels compared to 29.56 million barrels exported in the corresponding period of 1978, an increase of 36% in volume.
Domestic crude oil production in 1979 is currently estimated to increase by 29% to 280,000 barrels per day compared to 217,000 barrels per day in 1978. With a higher production of crude oil in 1979, Malaysia’s export earnings from crude petroleum in 1979 are expected to have increased substantially by about 67% over 1978, to reach $3,767 million. This represents 18% of total export earning in 1979.
Next year, in 1980, crude oil production is estimated to increase further by at least another 13% over 1979 to reach 116 million barrels per annum or 317,000 barrels per day. With the export price estimated at $25.00 per barrel, the export value of crude in 1980 is estimated at $5,400 million – making petroleum the highest foreign exchange earner for the first time, and representing 24% of total export earnings estimated for 1980.
What is worrisome however is whether we are properly conserving our oil resources for our future generations, and properly utilising our oil revenue. This is because Malaysia’s petroleum reserves are expected to run out within 13 years at the average rate of production of 200,000 barrels a day. This was admitted by the Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, of 317,000 barrels a day next year Malaysia would run our of our petroleum reserves by the late to Mid-Eighties – which is a very belief span of time in the life of a nation and people.
The golden era of Indonesian oil production has come and gone, hardly touching and affecting the lives of the masses of people – except to produce the great Pertamina scandal of corruption, mismanagement and misuse of power and funds.
There are so many other states where oil boom ended up as an oil doom for the people. What have we done to harness the oil boom to the benefit of the masses, and not to greater subjugation and exploitation of the people.
The oil billions represent a great opportunity to resolve the many basic economic and social injustices in the country, but it could also be used to aggravate these economic and social injustices and inequalities.
This is why it vital and essential that the Government give a full and frank accounting as to what and how it proposes to spend the oil billions, and how Petronas in to carry out its trust as the national oil corporation.
There appears to be a complete veil of mystery surrounding the operations and activities of the billion-dollar Petronas empire.
Parliament, to which Petronas is finally accountable, know next to nothing as to what Petronas is doing, and has no means to check and prevent Petronas from becoming a second Bank Rakyat, or worse a second Pertamina.
Nobody really knows whether Petronas, though the national oil corporation, is being operated as one of the bumiputra enterprises in the country to achieve the 30 % objective of the New Economic Policy with regard to industrial and commercial participation of the economy, or whether Petronas is a fully national organisation catering to the interests and needs of all Malaysians, regardless of whether Malays of non-Malays.
Parliament will be committing an abdication of responsibility if it allows the present unsatisfactory situation where there is no means whatsoever to call Petronas to account, to continue, and I call on the Prime Minister, who is responsible to Parliament over Petronas, to take the initiative to ensured that there is a meaningful Parliamentary check and control over Petronas activities.
One immediate step which the Prime Minister should take is to take action, including amendment of existing laws if necessary, requiring Petronas to submit an annual report to Parliament of its activities and operations for debate and approval.
The Government appears to be aiming for high economic growth based on rapid exploitation of non-renewable resources. This can only lead to economic disaster for future generations. Petroleum exploration is a good example. Another is the rape of the forests where excessive logging, denuding our forests at the rate or two acres per minute, may result in timber disappearing within a decade.
Tin is another fast-depleting natural resource, as the States of Malaya Chamber of Mines recently stated that established ore reserves of tin would run out in 10 years at current levels of annual production.
Rubber Industry in Crisis
The rubber industry in Malaysia is also facing a crisis. The rise in petroleum and their effect on synthetic rubber production costs should have improved the competitive position of natural rubber vis-à-vis synthetic rubber and increased the world demand for natural rubber. But for next year, Malaysia’s volume of export of rubber is estimated to be the same as this year’s, although total export earnings in 1980 would amount to about $4,092 which is $417 million less than this year’s rubber export earnings would suffer a fall in five years.
Palm oil and palm kernel oil are also facing difficulties next year from the point of price. World production of major oil-seeds and copra in the 1979/80 crop year is estimated to increase by 10% over the year the last crop year, but due to slackening in demand, the prices of palm oil and palm kernel oil are estimated to suffer a general decline of 6% in 1980.
The long-term problems faced by Malaysia major export earners, in particular the non-renewable resources, which would have grave consequences for Malaysia’s economy in five, ten or fifteen years’ time, should be a reminder to the country’s leader to husband the country’s resources and earnings for effecting radical changes in the people’s livelihood, rather than spawning ostentatious living, extravagance, waste and a new regime of the haves over the nave-nots.
Malaysia’s High GNP is affluence for the few while poverty for the many
This brings me to the second basic problem in Malaysia which should be earnestly tackled, especially during ‘buoyant’ periods of the economy. I am referring to the great gap between the haves and have-nots and the need for a meaningful redistribution of income and wealth in the country.
A high GNP is no indication of improve welfare for the masses of people, as a high GNP may be the result of affluence for a few while poverty for the many. A high GNP could be the result of the growth of oil extraction and revenues and the growth of the military industrial complex, without denting the problems of malnutrition, disease, illiteracy and homelessness.
A good pictorial illustration of the disparities of wealth and income, unaffected and in all probability perpetuated by a high GNP, can be provided by any perceptive reader of the local press.
For instance, recently the press reported of the plight of the homeless in Sungei Udang, Klang, who were moved by their desperation to take over low-cost houses; and the plight of the 152 families in Lubok Kundang, 11 miles from Banting, Selangor, who had for years applied unsuccessfully for land, and were forced to cultivate illegally, but had their crops destroyed by the Selangor state government authorities. These are the pictures of privation, hardships and poverty, under the New Economic Policy of the National Front. But together with these stories of privation and human suffering, we read of other notable ‘achievements’ of the NEP. For instance, the local press recently reported that a world-renowned maker of bejewelled watches had come to Malaysia to se up shop and was holding and exhibition in a local hotel worth $3 million of display. According to the local press report, the most expensive Patek Phillippe gent’s set, which comprises a set of cuff links, a ring and watch, is priced at $291,000; while the most impressive ladies’ set, comprising a set of earrings, watch, ring and pendent, is priced at $249,700.
The above contrasts between obscene wealth and desperate poverty represent vividly NEP’s Malaysia.
A decade of NEP implementation has shown that the NEP is more interested in creating a new class of Malays bureaucratic capitalists to match the Chinese compradore-capitalists best represented by the MCA, rather than to eliminate poverty. The Perak Mentri Besar said in August that the Perak Government planned to create 2,000 bumiputera millionaires under the NEP.
And if we follow Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, Deputy Prime Minister’s definition as to who is millionaire in the Dewan Rakyat on June 15, these are ‘millionaires’ who not only have a million dollars worth property, but whose annual earnings amounted to $1 million or more!
With such an official NEP policy to make a privileged class of the people who have to be sacrificed will be the millions of both Malay and non-Malay poor.
It is precisely this get-rich-quick philosophy of the NEP, as given official endorsement not only by Government but also by UMNO, as in the semi-UMNO party philosophy enunciated in the work ‘Revolusi Mental’, which is the cause of repeated deviations and betrayals of the people’s rights and interests – as for example in the case of Bank Rakyat!
The rapid exploitation of the country’s non-renewable resources and the high commodity prices they fetch have given rise to more and more examples of colossal waste or misuse of public funds, and to more and more examples of shoddy, slip-shod planning involves losses of hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.
For instance, in 1974, the MISC hastily and ill-advisedly ordered five LNG tankers from French shipyards at the cost of some $2 billion, deliveries to begin end of this year, to transport natural gas from the Bintulu LNG complex. However, the Bintulu LNG production is now not expected to come on-stream until late 1983 or even very much later. This will involve annual losses running into hundreds of millions of dollars arising from keeping the tankers idle.
The scandal of the $250 million Kuantan Port is another case in point. Either due to bad sitting, poor design or faulty construction, the much-vaunted Kuantan Port had to postpone its opening five times. I understand that the experts had recommended Kemaman in Trengganu as the most appropriate place for a East Coast port, but owing to political considerations, the decision was taken to site it in Kuantan.
But what is most shocking is the attitude shown by the top government leaders, including the Prime Minister, who appeared to have adopted the philosophy that such deviations in multi-million dollar projects are to expected. In fact, when visiting the Kuantan Port August in the wake of public concern and criticism about the Port, the Prime Minister even claimed that the construction of Kuantan port was an ‘achievement’ as “we turned a swamp into a port within four years, something which was not deemed possible on the East coast 20 or 30 years ago.”
What the Prime Minister did not seem to realise was that even 20 or 30 years ago, if the Government was prepared to dump $200 million or $300 million dollars, some sort of a port could have been built in Kuantan.
But what the people of Malaysia want is not a $250 million white-elephant of a port, which has cracked even before it was opened, but an operational port, and to see that every public dollar is put to good use.
I am very concerned that the Government leaders, dazzled by the billions of dollars of oil money and other export earners, may be getting into the frame of mind that wasting a few hundred millions here or misspending a few tens of millions of dollars there was of no great matter, for this is the route to national economic ruin especially when petroleum reserves run out and other non-renewable resources get depleted.
We see everywhere around us mis-planning or mis-allocation of scare resources. We have in Penang the most modern international airport but its state of abandonment is only matched by another famous White Elephant the Senai Airport.
These are all reminders that ‘more is not necessarily better’. At present, there is a massive exercise known as ‘Operasi Isi Penuh’ to fill over 40,000 jobs in the various government departments. But can the people be assured that the filling of these 40,000 government vacancies will lead to a qualitative improvement in efficiency, service and courtesy on the part of the Government service?
Ever since the sixties, the Government’s expansion in staff appeared to go hand in hand with a decrease in efficiency.
In the early days, it is regarded as extraordinarily protracted and unjustifiable for an application for citizenship to take three years to be processed. But today, applications for citizenship have not been processed after some 10 years. When asked in Parliament for the reasons for the delay, the home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, declared that citizenship is a privilege and not a right, and the Government has the right to take as long as it wants. This is utter nonsense, and must be repudiated in no uncertain terms, for it is a justification for government inefficiency and incompetence. There can be no right on the part of the Government to drag its feet on any matter for as long as it wants. Even if citizenship is a privilege and not a right, the applicant, even if not a citizen, has the right to expect that the Government will deal with his application efficiently, competently and civilly.
Delay is inefficiency and maladministration, and it is indeed a sae day that we have reached a stage in Malaysia where Ministers stand up in Parliament to defend delay as deliberate government policy and be proud of it.
1980 Budget does not hold down prices of fight inflation
Although the 1980 Budget is aimed at promoting economic growth and to restrain inflation, it has not done much to keep down prices. The Finance Minister’s personal reliefs for income tax will restore somewhat the purchasing power of the ringgit in the hands of the consumers, but what action has the government taken to prevent a further spiral of inflation which will reduce the real benefits of the reliefs to nought, and make the plight of the poor even worse as they would have not benefited from the tax reliefs?
Malaysia is blessed with diverse natural resources, but unless we can make the best use of the wealth brought in by these resources to solve the basic problem of class inequality, and even more important, to lay the basic for national unity from among the diverse races making up Malaysia, we may not have another such opportunity to carry out such basic changes without too high a social and national cost.
The country’s wealth and income should be concentrated in eliminating class disparities, rather than widening these disparities as is happening now.
As the Finance Minister said in his budget speech in three months’ time, Malaysia will cross over into the beginning of a new decade, decade that will decide whether we loyal citizens of all races will live as a united nation, dedicated in will and purpose to the pursuit of the ideals of the New Economic Policy of creating the necessary conditions that will advance and at cross-purposes, creating tension and instability that would dash all hope of making Malaysia a land of promise, in which all citizens could live in peace, harmony, prosperity and security.
The New Economic Policy was proclaimed as having as its objective the creation of national unity in Malaysia.
After a decade of operation, and on the eve of the Fourth Malaysia Plan, the DAP calls for review and correction of fundamental New Economic Policy implementation defects which aggravate racial tension, generate class bitterness and undermine national unity.
The problems of polarisation of class and of race could be more easily tackled at times of economic buoyancy and strength, with high prices for our commodities. If these problems of class and racial polarisation are allowed to deteriorate, then they will not only become more intractable in times of economic crisis, but likely to reach flashing point with awful consequence.
The NEP, in its present form of implementation, cannot reduce class inequality nor-promote national unity.
The NEP, for instance, is regarded as the cause for the dimunition of higher education opportunities for the non-Malays, whether at the university or pre-university level. The NEP, when it was announced a decade ago, was conceived as a plan which will help the Malays to catch up with the other races especially in the higher education fields.
It is now seen as a plan to hold down the other races, in particular educationally.
Nobody objects to the more backward groups catching up, but it is clearly unjust and unacceptable to hold down the progress and advancement of any group which involves the fulfilment of his capabilities.
This is why education, and in particular, higher education, has become such a divisive issue in Malaysia, and why this problem deserves immediate attention and solution if it is not to be the single biggest cause retarding national unity.
The miserable increase of 2% in the non-Malay intake of university students into the five local universities in the current university year had roused non-Malay disenchantment and frustration to even greater heights.
These disenchantments and frustrations have been compounded by the ever-rising cost higher education abroad, as evidenced by the repeated increase of tuition fees in UK by 33% September and possibly by another 150% next year if the Conservative Government announcement to make overseas students pay the full cost of higher education is implemented.
The Education Minister’s solemn promise last year to significantly increase non-Malay student, intake into the five local universities wear thin, not only from the breach in implementation this academic term, but also from the large number of non-Malay students who are denied places into Form Six classes.
The breakdown of students given Form Six places in 1979 for the science and arts streams are as follows:
|Peninsular Malaysia (Form Six students taken in for 1979)|
|English stream|| 3525
|National stream|| 2273
|Grand Total|| 12079
The 1978 MCE/SOM results for fully-assisted government school are as follow:
|Total No. of Candidate||Grade 1||Grade2||Grade3||Fail|
These figures show that while the Government is giving Form Six places for a large number of non-first grade MCE/SPM Malay students in the deserving programme to increase Malay students in higher educational levels, a very large percentage of non-Malay first grades are unable to find Form Six places.
For instance, taking into account that the Form Six (national stream) had a total of 4,742 science and arts places in 1979, and that in the SPM examination last year, (which feed students into the Form Six national stream), there were 1,198 First Grader and 4,350 second-graders, this means that virtually ad SPM First Graders and Second Graders have been absorbed into form six calluses. We can safely reach this conclusion when we take into account that many good Malay performers in MCE/SPM examinations do not proceed to Form Six, but join pre-university courses at the local universities which take MCE/SPM Malay students direct to prepare them for medical, engineering or other degree courses, or MARA or many other governmental colleges and institutions, or sent abroad for pre-university studies – all facilities which are not open to non-Malay students.
On the other hand, I would estimate that at least 40% of the non-Malay First Graders are not able to get places in Form Six, when food Second Grades should also be entitled to Form Six education.
The dimunition of non-Malay students in the local universities cannot be redressed without redressing the dimunition of non-Malay Students in Form Six classes.
The problem of higher education opportunities for Malaysians of all races in now not merely an education problem, it is a problem affecting national unity and nation building.
So long as the government failed to resolve this problem of dimunition of higher education opportunities, so long will national unity be a distant dream.
In the interest of national unity to remove the deep-seated causes of national unity, I would seriously urge on the Government to take a Policy Decision to greatly increase Form Six Places, so that all First Graders at MCE/SPM and food second-graders can get Form Six places. Secondly, the Government should make good use of the oil money to strengthen the basis of national unity in the country by building two new universities to significantly expand higher education places in the country for Malaysian students.
The DAP is ever prepared to co-operate and work with the Government to broad the areas of inter-racial understanding and national unity because we are Malaysians whose only home in Malaysia.
But we are also prepared to criticise and oppose policies and measure which retard national unity, because we want to make Malaysia a better, happier and more united country for all citizens. Let not anyone therefore question the right of the DAP or any citizen to criticise and oppose government policies the democratic framework, or else he would be questioning the very basic of Malaysia itself.
If the Government is sincere in wanting to forge national unity, then the Government must able to rise above partisan politics, and behave as the Government of all Malaysians, and not as a Government of a section of Malaysians. For several years, Barisan MPs are given $100,000 a year for development projects for their constituencies but this is denied to Opposition MPs.
For instance, the Government should stop discriminating between Barisan and Opposition areas. For several years, Barisan MPs are given $100,000 a year for development projects for their constituencies, but this is denied to Opposition MPs.
How can there be national unity if the Government discriminates against citizens for exercising their constitutional right of electing the MP of their choice, and the Government treats public funds as if they are Barisan party funds?
How can there be national unity when at every UMNO Delegates’ Conference, the Malays are made to feel more Malay, while the non- Malays made to feel more non-Malay?
How can there be national unity when the Government frowns on workers of all races finding a common class solidarity, and prefers the workers to revert to their separate racial entities, as happened in the MAS-AEU dispute?
We are on the threshold of the 1980s but these fundamental questions have still to find an answer. What is even more important, is the NEP helping to evolve an answer and solution or is the NEP making an answer and solution even more difficult and impossible.
The search for this answer constitutes the biggest challenge the loyal, patriotic Malaysians.