Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, at a DAP ceramah held at Sungai Way Community Hall in Sungei Way, Petaling Jaya, on Monday, 30th Nov. 1981 at 8 pm
DAP to move a motion to cut Lee San Choon’s salary by $10 during the Committee Stage of Budget on Wednesday over his responsibility on the Permatang Tinggi rail bus crash which killed 18 and injured 30
When the 2-M leadership of Dr. Mahathir and Datuk Musa took over the administration of the government as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively, they introduced the clock-in and clock-out system, and emphasized that they want a ‘clean, honest and sufficient’ government – ‘BCL’ – ‘berseh, cekap dan licin’.
At that time, I had pointed out that the mere clocking-in and clocking-out of government servants would not bring about a ‘BCL’ government, if there is no change in the entire attitude, outlook and mentality of government servants, that their purpose in life is to serve the people and country and not become society’s burden.
The Permatang Tinggi rail bus disaster, where 18 were killed and 30 injured, is the best example, for despite the clocking-in and clocking-out of government servants, the railway and transport authorities failed to improve on its efficiency, competence and standard of responsibility to the public to protect them from avoidable accidents.
If we give thought to the Permatang Tinggi accident, we will realize how unnecessary it was if the Railway authorities, and the Transport Ministry, had exercised a modicum of responsibility, especially after so many fatal accidents had taken place at railway level crossings, particularly at the Permatang Tinggi crossing.
In 1972, when the Pasir Mas accident occurred killing 12 and injuring 37, the then Minister of Communications, Tan Sri Sardon Jubir, announced that immediate action was being taken to install safety measures at crossing.
What did the successive Ministers of Transport, and the present Minister of Transport, Datuk Lee San Choon, do to check on such safety measures. Probably Datuk Lee San Choon was too busy with the MCA’s Big Five projects, and in particular the MCA’s holdings shares’ schemes to care for the safety of ordinary people.
The railway authorities and the Transport Ministry must take full responsibility for the Permatang Tinggi tragedy.
This is especially so when the Permatang Tinggi crossing had been the scene of at least four fatal accidents, the latest one only a few weeks ago on Nov. 1, where a technician was killed and 6 injured. The simple step of putting up railway gates there would have saved so many lives.
Even now, the railway authorities and the Transport Ministry are trying to pass the buck, by claiming that it is the State Government’s job to put up the gate.
The people have enough of the government passing the buck from one to another, where it is the people who are finally the victims, paying with their lives.
As Minister of Transport, Datuk Lee San Choon, must accept full responsibility for the Permatang Tinggi disaster, for clearly he had failed to take Ministerial action to prevent the occurrence of the disaster, especially as there had been four fatal accidents at the same crossing before.
In other countries, more conscientious Ministers would have already resigned as admission of their responsibility, in failing to provide the Ministerial direction. But in Malaysia, MCA Ministers will hang on to the Ministerial positions, however irresponsible they are shown to have been by events.
The DAP will move a motion to cut Datuk Lee San Choon’s salary by $10 during the committee stage of the Budget debate in Parliament on Wednesday for his responsibility over the Permatang Tinggi rail bus disaster.
This motion will be moved by the DAP MP for Bukit Bendera, Peter Dason, I hope that Barisan MPs would support this motion, for the time has come for Malaysians demand a higher standard of accountability and responsibility from our Ministers and public authorities.
Ministers who cannot perform basic duties like directing that railway gates be installed at a crossing where there had been four fatal accidents, should be censured as an example to others.
In fact, up till now, despite the Pasir Mas disaster in 1972, the Pasir Mas railway crossing still has no railway gates. How incompetent could the Ministry of Transport be?