Call on Datuk Musa Hitam to respond to Amnesty International campaign to free prisoners of conscience and as a first step release long-standing ISA detainees.

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, when declaring open the Negeri Sembilan State Political Course at DAP Seremban branch premises on Saturday, 10th October, 1981 at 3 p.m.

Call on Datuk Musa Hitam to respond to Amnesty International campaign to free prisoners of conscience and as a first step release long-standing ISA detainees.

The new Mahathir-Musa leadership made a good start in rebuilding Malaysian’s human rights record when they released 21 Internal Security Act detainees on July 31 within two weeks of the new administration.

Both Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa had promised the government would review every case of the 500 over Internal Security Act detainees in the opuntry. Unfortunately, up to now, there has been no further release of detainees under the ISA.

The DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa to build on their July 31 action and to speedily release ISA detainees or charge them in court to give them a chance to defend themselves.

The Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Amnesty International, has launched a week-long campaign to urge for the release of prisoners of conscience and among the 16 detained worldwide it had selected to symbolize the fate of thousands in the world, one of them is Tan Hock Hin, Former Assistant Secretary General of the Labour Party, who had been in detention for 14 years under the ISA.

The DAP calls on the Mahathir-Musa administration to respond to the Amnesty International initiative and as a first stop to immediately release the long-standing Internal Security Act detainees who had been detained for more than 4 years i.e. those who have been served which two consecutive detention orders of 2 years duration each.

The ISA which permits detention without trial is a gross violation of human rights, contrary to fundamental liberties guaranteed and enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To detain a person indefinitely for a prolonged period without trial is even a greater violation of human rights.

As a first stop to restore the human rights of Malaysians, I would urge the minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, to immediately release all detainees who have been detained for more than4 years. For those detainees who have been detained for 4 years and whom the government refuse to release, the government should issue a White Paper to Parliament to explain and justify its decision which should ne open to examination and scrutiny by Parliament. For this purpose, a Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights should be set up, which, like the Public Accounts Committee, would have power to examine and scrutinize violations of human rights by the government.

The Mahathir-Musa administration should aim to more open government and submit itself to public judgement. It should move away from excessive secretiveness, which had in the past been used to camouflage government wrongs and incompetence. For instance, up to mow, the government has been reluctant to make public details like the identity of persons detained under the Internal Security Act, their number, and reason for their detention. There can be no conceivable threat to national security if these particulars are made public to Parliament and the country. On the contrary, such disclosure would only lead to a more responsible government for it would then be aware of public scrutiny and accountability.

In the coming Parliamentary meeting, I would be asking the Minister of Home Affairs to furnish particulars of the number of people detained under the Internal Security Act for over 4 years. I will also be asking the Minister whether he government would lift the ban on the report of the Amnesty International on the human rights situation in Malaysia to correct mistakes of facts or conclusion so as to demonstrate Malaysia has nothing to be ashamed of with regard to its human rights record

Finally, in view of the repeated complaints of ill-treatment by ISA detainees, I would urge the Minister of Home Affairs, to allow a party Parliamentary delegation to visit the detention all camps to inquire into the conditions of the detainees.

Democratic Action Party

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Rawang Branch 1,000 People Dinner to commemorate the Party’s 15th Anniversary in Rawang on Saturday, 10th Oct. 1981 at 9 pm.

If the MCA Youth wants to restore the lost political rights of Malaysian Chinese, why it did not demand for the Finance Ministership instead of the powerless Second Deputy Prime Minister?

Recently, the MCA Youth Leader, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, had been hogging the headlines in the newspapers with the UMNO Youth Leader, Haji Suhaimi Kamarrudin, over the MCA Youth’s demand for a second MCA Deputy Prime Minister.

In making the demand, the MCA Youth claims that it seeks to restore the lost political rights of the Malaysian Chinese. However, the way the MCA Youth and Datuk Lee Kim Sai went about it, it is clear that they are not really interested in restoring the lost political rights of the Malaysian Chinese, but to again political capital for themselves n the approach of the next general elections to show what great champions of Malaysian Chinese they are!

If the MCA Youth are really concerned and interested in restoring the lost political rights of the Malaysian Chinese, then can Datuk Lee Kim Sai explain why they are not demanding for the restoration of the Finance Ministership to a MCA leader, who would have real powers and influence, instead of demanding for an empty and powerless Second Deputy Prime Minister, who would have the name but no substance of power.

In fact, I dare predict that if a Second Deputy Prime Minister is created at the suggestion of the MCA Youth to accommodate a MCA leader, this Second Deputy Prime Minister from the MVA would probably have even less power and influence than an ordinary Minister, and even less power than a deputy Minister like Haji Suhaimi!

So, who is Datuk Lee Kim Sai bluffing? We can see for ourselves of examples of MCA Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have no real power and influence, while UMNO Deputy Ministers who sometimes not as if they are Ministers.

The Ministry of Education is the best example. Of the two Deputy Ministers, Datuk Chan Siang San has the most senior record, having been stuck there for over five years, while Haji Suhaimi is a comparative newcomer, being a Deputy Minister for Education for less than three.

But everybody knows that Haji Suhaimi has more power, influence and weight than Datuk Chan Siang Sun. Even in government notices when mentioning more Deputy Ministers, Haji Suhaimi is mentioned ahead of Datuk Chan Siang Sun although Haji Suhaimi is there for less than three months!

This shows that the MCA Youth and Datuk Lee Kim Sai are not sincere in wanting to restore the lost political rights of the Malaysian Chinese. The MCA would have a very strong case to lay claim to the Finance Ministership, which was held by the MCA President ever since Merdeka until Datuk Lee San Choon became MCA President. Why didn’t Datuk Lee Kim Sai, or the MCA Youth, or the MCA for that matter, at that time protested against the lossof the Finance Ministership?

The manner Datuk Lee Kim Sai had exploited the Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister issue can do the political rights of the Malaysian Chinese no good. In fact, it can do positive harm to the political rights of the Malaysian Chinese.

This is because the MCA Youth and Datuk Lee Kim Sai are giving UMNO and UMNO Youth the opportunity to demonstrate that they hold a ‘veto’ power over MCA and MCA Youth Resolutions and demands.

All top UMNO political and government leaders have dismissed the MCA Youth demand for a Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister. Dr. Mahathir even gave a veiled warning to the MCA Youth when he dismissed its demand for a Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister as a ‘non-starter’. The UMNO Secretary General, the UMNO publicity Secretary, and of course the UMNO Youth President, have attacked and criticized the MCA Youth demand.

But have the MCA President, or the MCA Secretary-General, or any national MCA official come to the support of the MCA Youth demand? It is no use the MCA Youth direct its known branches and officials to come out with fierce statements against Haji Suhaimi, if the MCA Ministers, Deputy Ministers, and national party officials, run away from the ‘battle’.

It is significant that the MCA Youth General Assembly Resolution for a Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister was not endorsed by the MCA General Assembly, although it was presented to the General Assembly. This is a polite way of the MCA Youth General Assembly Resolution.

Why, then, did Datuk Lee Kim Sai proceed to make a big play of the Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister issue when the MCA General Assembly, the supreme MCA decision-making body, had refused to endorse the MCA Youth demand?

I could not think of a weaker position from which Datuk Lee is making the MCA Youth demand as:

1. the MCA General Assembly had rejected endorsement for it;

2. Datuk Lee San Choon distanced himself from the demand, and according to Haji Suhaimi, had rejected the demand;

3. the summary dismissed by the Prime Minister, the UMNO Youth Leader, the UMNO Secretary-General and other national leaders;

4. the open secret that Datuk Lee is not sincere in making this demand, nor courageous in pursuing it with all political powerat his command. For instance, everybody knows that Datuk Lee is only good at bullying MIC President, Datuk Samy Vallu, even in challenging him to a by-election in Sungei Siput or Rawang, but the would never dare to challenge Haji Suhaimi to a by-election in Sepang or Rawang!

In making the demand for a Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister, from such a position of weakness and submission, Datuk Lee Kim Sai had made not only the MCA Youth and MCA look foolish, but also the Malaysian Chinese community.

The MCA Youth should stop its political tricks. It should realis that the political, economic, educational, social and cultural rights of the Malaysian Chinese cannot be advanced one iota, even if a Second MCA Deputy Prime Minister is appointed. But it speaks for the total impotence, ineffectiveness and irrelevance of the MCA that its wish for a ‘powerless’ Second Deputy Prime Minister not only cannot be fulfilled, but had been refused even ‘consideration’.

(Lim Kit Siang)

Democratic Action Party

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday, Oct. 16, 1981 on the motion to establish a States Advances Fund under the 1957 Financial Procedure Act.

DAP propose three criteria to be met by States before they are entitled to grants from the States Advances Fund:

The Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Najib Tun Razak, yesterday moved a motion to propose the establishment of a States Advances Fund under Section 10(4)(a) of the Financial Procedure Act 1957 to help States having financial difficulties. The Deputy Finance Minister said that with the expected increased tempo of development in the country, the government was of the view that such a Fund would play an ever important role.

In emphasizing that financial support for the states from the Central Government is very important to speed up development in the states, the Deputy Finance Minister is attempting to present the debate on the States Advances Fund as whether one was for development or against development.

Naturally, from this angle, Barisan MPs responded by one after another asking for even bigger allocation for the States Advances Fund than the $20 million disclosed by the Deputy Finance Minister as the initial allocation. For it the debate on the establishment on the States Advanced Fund is along the line of whether one is for or against development, then clearly, the debate will end up with various proposals as to whether the Fund should be $50 million, or $100 million or even $1,000 million!

This, I submit, is not what the debate on the proposed establishment of the States Advances Fund should be about. There is no argument about the country and the people’s support for development to bring Malaysia to a higher level of socio-economic standard of living. The debate on the States Advances Fund is not a debate between the pro-development and anti-development for the States, but should be a debates as to the desirability and rationale and need of such a Fund to promote development in the States.

I ask Parliament to address its mind on this, so that we do not lose our way, and even worse, allow some irresponsible Members of Parliament of distorting what I am going to say in this debate as opposing developmental progress for the various states and the country.

The Deputy Finance Minister has not given convincing reason why there is need for the establishment of a States Advances Fund,; When introducing the motion, Datuk Najib said that the Fund would help states in financial difficulties, and that it would be essential to ensure development progress of the States.

It is clear from the name of the Fund described as revolving and the $50 million originally allocated to it that it is not its task it decide whether a State should have more funds for development, which would still be decided by the usual financial and budgetary process, in the light of he regular five-year development plans, but to bail out State Government in financial trouble by giving them an advance which would have to re-adjusted subsequently. In other words, it is meant to be a temporary financial relief.

There is already at present constitutional provision for such a contingency to enable the Federal Government to financially for such State Governments in trouble. Thus Article 109(6) of the Federal Constitution provides for the establishment of a State Reserve Fund from which the Federal Government, after consultation with the National Finance Council, may take out grants to any State “for the purpose of development or generally to supplement its revenues.”

Grants from the State Reserve Fund are not governed by any specific rules and have been made at irregular intervals mainly for the purpose of assisting states which have been unable to balance their budgets through no fault of their own.

The Deputy Finance Minister mentioned yesterday that the State Reserve Fund is not an appropriate vehicle for helping States facing financial difficulties, although he failed to give any reasons for it.

The establishment of the States Advances Fund under the Financial Procedure Act 1957 would in practice make Article 109(6) of the Federal Constitution, the State Reserve Fund, and the National Finance Council’s role in deciding on the payment of contingency grants to states in trouble, redundant. As such, proper reasons must be given in Parliament, and not just bald statement that the State Reserve Fund is not operating satisfactorily for the very purpose for which it was provided in the Constitution.

Unless the Deputy Finance Minister can give Parliament satisfactory reasons, I have grave reservations about the State Fund.

This is because the establishment of the States Advances Fund, when there is already a State Reserve Fund, seems to be completely at variance with the spirit and tone of the new Mahathir-Musa political leadership with its emphasis on ‘bersih, cekap and licin’ administration, with particular stress on public accountability for government actions, and especially with regard to the expenditure of public funds.

It is public knowledge that there is considerable waste, mismanagement, extravagance, inefficiency and downright financial malpractice at the State Government levels, whether with regard to operating expenditures or development expenditures.

While the DAP fully supports the Federal government giving all maximum financial grants to the various states to ensure their maximum development progress, the DAP cannot support the Federal government throwing good money after bad money, for they will end up as bad money as well.

Where State Government’s face financial difficulties because of financial waste, extravagance, mismanagement, inefficiency and malpractices, then the State Government must put their financial houses in order before they could expect any financial help relief from the Federal Government.

The Additor-General’s Reports for the various State Government finances reveal a frightening catalogue of financial irresponsibility, presenting of picture of State Governments squandering millions and millions of dollars of public funds without regard for accountability, effectiveness or meeting the purpose for which they were made.

Johore State is a good example, where because of financial mismanagement, the Johore Government had a deficit of $23 million in 1978 according to the Auditor-General’s latest report on Johore State Accounts for 1978. The accumulated deficits of the State Government of Johore as at December 31, 1978 was $65,164,944.

Financial mismanagement in Johore State reached such a stage where payment cheques totaling $24 million payable in 1978 were only prepared in January 1979. In January 1979, cheques prepared for payment, including the outstanding $24 million, totaled $31.3 million when the State Government had only $8.6 million in hand. As the State Government had inadequate funds, most of these cheques were not issued to the recepients. When the cheques became invalid, fresh cheques were issued.

As the Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin, said in his Report on Johore, 1978:”Such practice violate all budgetary and annual accounting principles.” (Para7)

Such financial mismanagement and malpractices can in fact lead the Government to take anti-development actions, like the Johore State Government’s unconscionable seizure of 20,000 acres of Kuala Kabong which had been cult opened up and cultivated by some 1,500 squatter farmers for some 20 years. When the time came for the 1,500 farmer families to harvest the fruit of their labour, sweat and toil for some 20 years, in planting rubber trees and oil palm, etc., the State Government of Johore on March 16 evicted the squatter farmers, cordoned off the area, and took over the harvesting of the rubber trees and oil palm planted by the farmers.

Has the Johore State Government become so financially desperate that it has been forced to such anti-development actions just to bring in money into state coffers?

In this connection, I would urge the Johore State Government, and in particular the Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Othman Sa’at, to lagelise the cultivation of the 20,000 acres of Kuala Kabong in Johore by the 1,500 squatter-farmers as they had applied for titles ever since their first settling on Kuala Kabong.

Yesterday, the first speaker in the debate, the Member for Matang, asked for more development funds for Perak, pleading the need for greater development of the state.

I fully support the Member for Matang’s plea for more development for Perak and for other States, but I may not agree that the solution is to give more development finds for Perak, which in any event, is not the task of the State Advances Fund. In fact, we should consider whether Perak is entitled to relief from the State Advances Fund when established.

The Auditor-General’s Report, year after year, State after State, has one common theme and burden: that there is gross under-capacity on the part of the States to spend the development funds allocated to them, The problem therefore is not to give the states more development funds, but to improve their development implementation capacity to spend the development funds already allocated.

Thus, The Auditor-General’s latest Report on Perak for the year 1978, (Para 36), shows the following figures:

Development Fund (Perak)

Original Allocation Revised Allocation Actual Expenditure

1976 52.53 million 52.70 million 22.41 million
1977 55.76 million 56.48 million 22.47 million
1978 62.55 million 64.39 million 29.92 million

Thus, Perak’s city implementation capacity to spend the development funds is only 43% in 1976 and 1977, and 46% in 1978, of the final allocations for development for each year.

According to the Auditor-General, in 1978, there were nine sub-heads under development expenditures for 1978 amounting to a total allocation of $3.7 million where not a single cent was spent.

As Perak’s development implementation capacity had not changed, it surely is not in need of grants from the States Advances Fund to speed up development projects, because its problem is not with inadequate allocation of development funds, but inability to spend even half of the development funds allocated to it.

Perak, however, is not an isolated case in its inability to spend most of the development funds allocated to it every year.

I give below the latest available figures for some state’s development allocation expenditures as given in the Auditor-General’s Reports:

Original Revised Actual Percentage
State Year Allocation Allocated Expenditure Expenditure
Penang 1978 44.74 mil 53.14 mil 24.70mil 46%
Kedah 1977 62.27 mil 75.57 mil 43.68 mil 58%
Trengganu 1978 102.23 mil 106.26 mil 32.93 mil 31%
Selangor 1977 157.90 mil 162.33 mil 81.63 mil 50%
Pahang 1978 60.73 mil 63.31 mil 24.48 mil 38%
Sarawak 1977 227.06 mil 1.62 mil 40%
Sabah 1977
Johore 1978 46.05 mil 60.49 30.20 mil 50%
Malacca 1977 6.97 mil 27%
Sembilan 1977
Kelantan 1977

It is therefore abundantly clear that the problem with states is not lack of development funds, but lack of development implementation capacity. With a $50 million allocated to the State Advances Fund, the government envisages the need to give emergency ‘financial help of a few millions to each state, but from the above statistics, the states have tens of millions of dollars, and in cases like Sarawak, Selangor, nearly or over $100 million of under spent development funds in their kitty.

In fact, this deplorable state of affairs had been the constant subject of comment by the Auditor-General in his State Reports.

Thus, in the 1977 Report on Malacca, the Auditor-General commented:

“Pada pendapat saya, oleh keran anggaran sasuatu rancangan merupakan satu alat yang penting bagi kawalan perbelanjaan, ianya hendaklah disusun seberapa tepat yang boleh dengan mengambil pertimbangan kepada punca-punca kewangan serta keupayaan melaksanakan projek-projek itu dalam tahun berkenaan.” (Para 26).

In his 1978 Report on Johore, the Auditor-General said:

“Walaupun semenjak beberapa tahun yang lalu Kerajaan Ngeri telah menyediakan peruntukkan yang banyak untuk projek-projek penbanguan tetapi kebanyakan projek-projek berkenaan tidak dapat dilaksanakan. Nampaknya, ini adalah disebabkan Kerajaan Negeri tidak mempunyai keupayaan yang seimbang sama ada disegi kewangan maupun kakitangan teknikal.” (Para 32)

In his 1978 on Penang, the Auditor-General commented:

“Anggaran tahunan meruoakan satu alat penting untuk mengawasi pelaksanaan dan perbelanjaan. Pegawai-pegawai Pengawai yang berkenaan patut merancang dan menyusun anggaran mereka dengan lebih tepat, berpandukkan kepada punca kewangan yang ada dan keupayaan melaksanakan projek-projek itu dalam tahun berkenaan.”

These comments of the Auditor-General, however, seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. I submit that if the State Advances Fund is to be established, the only those States who have heeded the Auditor-General’s comments should be entitled to received grants from the Fund.

The States’ gross incapacity of the States in development implementation capacity is highlighted by the case of the maintenance of roads grants given out to the Trengganu State for 1978. According to the Auditor-General’s Report (Para 19), $3.7 million was given to Trengganu for as maintenance of road grants on the basis of 604.21 miles of road maintained by the Public Works Department. The State was only able to spend $2.2 million, or 59% of the grants.

Another area of gross un incapacity of development implementation of the States is in the field of water supplies.

For instance, for the State of Johore, the allocation for waterworks projects for 1978 totalled $21.38 million, but the actual expenditure was only $5.95 million, or 28% of the sum allocated.

A result of such incapacity of development implementation is what has been describes as ‘the thirsty town scandal’ of Muar, where because of unbelievable bad planning, bucreautic bungling and mismanagement, over 300,000 people in Muar had been deprived of proper water supply for some 10 years. Progress on the $10 million civil works under the $27 million Water Supply project in to resolve the Muar water supplies crisis initiated as far back as 1973 under the Second Malaysia Plan as a matter of urgent priority had come to a halt, although we are now in the Fourth Malaysia Plan.

This is project which is jointly funded by the Asian Development Bank (61 per cent) and the Johore State Government, but it has come to become the badge of incompetence and inefficiency of development capacity of the Johore State Government.

The incapacity of the various states to carry out their water-works development programmes are equally atrocious. For instance, the following states’ track record is nothing to be proud about:

Waterwork Projects

Final Actual Percentage of
State Year Allocation Expenditure Expenditure
Perak 1978 18.15 mil 5.74 mil 32%
Pahang 1978 29.74 mil 11.94 mil 40%
Trengganu 1978 11.27 mil 1.66 mil 15%

Another area of shocking development incompetence of the State Governments in the area of low-cost housing. For instance, according to the Auditor-General’s Report on Johore for 1978, as on 31st March 1980, a total of $94 million was allocated to the Johore State Government under the Third Malaysia Plan for low-cost housing. According to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, as of that date, a total of $84 million of loans had been approved, out of which $36.5 million, had been made out to the Johore State Government. Out of this sum, $24 million was loaned by the Johore State Government to the Johore SEDC to carry out low-cost housing projects.

As at 31st March 1980, only 2,832 low –cost housing units were built, as compared to 9,059 units approved for this period. There are low-cost housing projects with have been delayed for as long as five years! This short-fall in implementation capacity of development plans is the greatest problems of the States, which is not going to be resolved y the establishment of a State Advances Fund.

The State Economic Development Corporations is another area where a lot of waste of development funds are taking place. A reading of any one of the Auditor-General’s Reports cannot but give one the feeling that some of the SEDC projects are ‘bottomless pits’ where public funds are repeatedly dumped in, only to create ever and ever bigger accumulated losses. The marvel of this ‘bottomless pit’ is that while public money are being dumped into it which disappear immediately from sight, individuals close to the component parties, in particular the UMNO-putras, get rich and wealthy from the SEDCUs losses.

A good example is the fully-owned company of the Pahang State Government, Syarikat Perdagangan Pahang Sdn. Bhd. Set up on 24th Sept. 1973 as a trading and construction materials supplies company. The Pahang state government invested $750,000, and as at the end of 1977, its accumulated losses stood at $1.1 million. Despite its financially hopeless position, the State Government acceded to the company’s request for another $250,000 investment in the company, bringing the total state government investment to $1 million!

The Pahang State Government, and the taxpayers, clearly stand to lose the investments, but I have no doubt that here were individuals who would stand to benefit greatly from the losses of Syarikat Perdagangan Pahang Sdn. Bhd.

The new administration of Mahathir which preaches a BCL (bersih, cekap and licin) administration must put the state government finances and development efforts in good order, so that the rakyat benefits and development efforts in good order, so that the rakyat benefits from the development expenditures. The State Advances Fund must not be sees as a refuge for states which had squandered away development funds for instant replenishment. On the contrary, I would suggest that the State Government must meet three criteria before they are entitled to receive grants from the States Advances Fund:

1. that each state had overhauled its financial, budgetary and management practices as to conform with the comments of the Auditor-General;

2. that each state fully utilize its development funds first, and should at least reach the development fund implementation capacity of 80% before seeking aid from the State Advances Fund;

3. the each state should put a stop to waste, inefficiency and malpractices in all its development programmes and activities, especially in SEDC efforts, which are finally financed by the Federal Government.