Speech Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the Kota Bahru DAP Branch first anniversary dinner held at Restaurant Kesia in Kota Bahru on Friday, 5th September 1980 at 8pm.
DAP calls for land reforms in Kelantan to ensure that the landless in Kelantan can own their own land and houses to give them a stake in the future of the state and country.
Rural poverty in Kelantan, Trengganu, Kedah and Perlis is most acute in Peninsular Malaysia, and one of the major causes of rural poverty is landlessness.
Although the Government spends hundreds of million of dollars in building infrastructures like the Muda Irrigation Scheme in Kedah, studies have shown that the main beneficiaries of such gigantic government expenditures are the landed class, and not the ordinary peasants.
The DAP is of the view that rural poverty in Malaysia could only be effectively tackled if there are radical land reform which assure to very landless the right to won their own land and home.
One of the biggest failures of the New Economic Policy, which purports to uplift the economic standard of the bumiputeres, is that is had created a small new class of Malay rich, the UMNO-putras, while leaving the Malay masses of peasants and fisherman as poor as before.
This could be seen from the ever growing concentration of ownership of land, for instance, in the hands of a small privileged class of Malay rich, with connection with UMNO leader, whole the Malay landless remain landless and poor.
The DAP calls for radical land reform in Kelantan and all over the country to ensure that the landless in Malaysia can own their own land and their own home. This is a basic human need which it is the responsibility of the Government to fulfil.
The New Economic Plan Policy claim that it is aimed at achieving the overriding objective of national unity through the two-prong aims of eliminating poverty regardless of race and the restructuring of society.
In this connection, there is clearly a need for a review and reform of the Kelantan land laws and administration, so thath every Kelantan Malaysian would able to own their own land and home, regardless of race.
I am not speaking for millionaire and tycoons who want to have thousand and hundred of thousand of acres, but the ordinary Malaysian who want to own land and home.
I understand that the Kelantan Chinese face great problems with regard to land use and ownership. For non-Malay in Kelantan, if they want to develop their land, a condition imposed by the State authorities is that 70 per cent of the houses or shop-lots should be reserved to bumiputera. This mean that while there is a growing number of non-Malays and Chinese in Kelantan, the land available for ownership by them keeps shrinking and dwindling, as the rest of State land are Malay Reservation.
Although I have asked around, nobody seems to know that percentage of land in Kelantan is Malay Reservation. The Kelantan State Government should reveal to the people of Kelantan what percentage of land in Kelantan are Reserved Malay land and what percentage of land are non-Malay Reservation. Furthermore, as a result of the ruling requiring 70% of the non-Malay owned land to be reserved to Malays, what further area of land had been removed from non-Malay ownership and use?
These figures are not official secrets or security information and I am indeed surprised that these figures are not available. If the DAP is in the Kelantan State Assembly, this will be the first question our DAP State Assemblyman would require the Mentri Besar to provide.
While the DAP supports any government measure, whether at Federal or State levels, to increase Malay participation in urban industrial and commercial activities, a rule like the Kelantan State Government regulation with regard to 70:30 disposal of developed non-Malay is unacceptable. This is because it mean that while the non-Malay population in Kelantan increase (just as Malay population in Kelantan increase), land and houses and shop-lots available for the non-Malay in Kelantan would continue to decrease.
I could not see how this policy could conform with the profession of the New Economic Policy if the Barisan Nasional to build a Malaysian society, where every Malaysian citizen would have an equal stake in the future of the country.
The DAP calls for a modification of this 70:30 rule of the Kelantan State Government, and to substitute it with one which adhere faithfully to the New Economic Policy principle that “no person will fell any sense of loss or deprivation” form the implementation of government economic policy.
I have been told that the Kelantan State Government intends to compulsorily acquire the land and houses at Jalan Pasar Lama and Jalan Pejabat Pos Lama, offering compensations which are well below the market land price.
Government acquisition of private land must be for a public purpose, and not to enable a handful or privileged political leaders and their close friends to make a fortune.
In this connection, the Kelantan State Government, in wanting to acquire compulsorily the land and houses in the area concerned must explain cleary to the people and the affected Kelantanese of the government’s plans. It it genuinely for a public purpose, or is it to put up building which would eventually benefit a handful of private individuals?
Unless and until the State Government could convince the people of the bona fide intentions of the government to compulsorily acquire private property, any use of government power to acquire private property is a gross abuse of power.
Secondly, in view of the fact that the land purchasable by Kelantan Chinese are limited in the state, any acquisition of the land of Kelantan Chinese or non-Malay should be accompanied by the compensatory release of an equal area of Malay Reservation Land for non-Malay ownership so that the total area of land ownable and purchasable by non-Malay would not continue to decrease and dwindling.
Thirdly, the Government must give a fair price and compensation to the people affected by the government compulsory acquisition – not only in terms of a fair market price, but also in terms of compensation of alternative land.
Fourthly, the Government must give all those affected by the government acquisition fair treatment and compensation. Those who will be affected will be the owner, who should be adequately compensated in monetary price and alternative land; the tenants who should be provided with alternative accommodation; the shop-keepers and businessmen who should be provided with alternative location of continuing their business.
Nobody would stand in the way of urban redevelopment and renewal. The government, however, should be fair, and should consider allowing the owners of the area the opportunity of pooling their resources to redevelop their area, in conjunction with the government – so that it would be a government-private sector joint effort.
The DAP therefore calls on the Kelantan State Government to ensure not only that the landless in the state can own their own land and homes, but also to ensure that there is a fait and just land policy for all Kelantanese, regardless of their racial origin.
The DAP is following closely development in this areas and I call on the Kelantan Mentri Besar, to intervene in the matter of the state acquisition of the land at Jalan Pasar Lama and Jalan Pos Lama to ensure fair play and justice.