Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang in Dewan Rakyat on the estimates of the Ministry of Land and Regional Development on December 1, 1982
The New Economic Policy was promulgated and implemented in 1970 with the objective of restructuring society so that there would be no identification of race with vocation or location.
Through the NEP Five-Year Malaysia Plans, there was much talk about government plans to increase the Malay population in the towns, as well as to increase the non-Malay population in the rural areas. Unfortunately what we see today is merely the swift urbanization of the Malaysia, without any serious effort to increase non-Malay population in the rural areas by providing agricultural opportunities, like opening up land for non-Malaysia.
FELDA is the main instrument of the government to provide new agricultural settlements, and up to date, FELDA represents the most conspicuous symbol of the failure of the Barisan Nasional government to carry out a balanced restructuring of our society. I am indeed most shocked to find from the Minister of Land and Regional Development’s answer to my question that up to 31st October 1982, only four percent of the FELDA schemes come from the non-Malay settlers. Thus up to 31st October 1982, 73,942 settlers had been emplaced in FELDA schemes, comprising the following:
I call on the 2-M Government to carry out a serious and concerted effort in the rest of the 20-Year Perspective Plan ending in 1990 to ensure that by the year 1990, there would be about 30 per cent non-Malay participation of the FELDA settlers, and this can be carried out if the Ministry of Land and Regional Development carry out a 7-year programme beginning 1983 to increase the non-Malay percentage of the FELDA schemes by 4 percent every year.
I cannot accept the argument that there is inadequate interest among non-Malaysia to become FELDA settlers. The Government is not, in the first place, emplacing all eligible non-Malay applicants for FELDA schemes. If FELDA finds that there is not a single non-Malay applicant for FELDA, then let it inform the DAP and we are prepared to give all assistance to ensure that a balanced restructuring of society is carried out in the country.
The ambitious Jengka Triangle project has run into many difficulties, and the Jengka Corporation formed in 1971, has yet to settle more than $6 million borrowed from the State Government.
The Corporation was to have developed more than 121 hectares in the Jengka Triangle but to date it has only managed to meet a mere fraction of the target.
The Jengka Triangle Master Plan also included three townships complete with infrastructure, light industry and business to cater for 35,000 people. But Jengka has now only a small town – Bandar Pusat Jengka – with poor opportunities for cottage industries and business. The corporation has failed to build enough homes, shops and roads to open up the area and only 8,000 of an estimated 35,000 people have settled in the Jengka Triangle.
I understand the Federal Government is considering taking over the Jengka Triangle project, and I ask the Minister to give the House in the latest position on the matter.
In the recent seminar on ‘Law, Justice and the Consumer’ organized by the Consumers’ Association of Penang, the Government was urged to carry out a radical overhaul of the country’s land system as it does not reflect social needs and is not responsible to changes in society.
For example, in the urban areas, the top 10 per cent of landowners possessed 53 per cent of all private land in Kota Baru, 66 per cent in Alor Star, 67 per cent in Georgetown, 72 per cent in Bukit Mertajam and 80 per cent in Butterworth. In the rural areas, 11.1 per cent of the biggest holdings in the Muda padi growing area accounted for 42 per cent of all padi lands. In the estate sector, foreigners owned 60 per cent or 1.29 million acres of estate land cultivated with rubber, oil palm, coconut and tea.
I want to ask the Minister concerned whether the Government proposed to carry out a radical overhaul of land laws to provide for greater equity in land ownership in the country, and also to carry out land reforms to abolish absentee landlordism in the padi growing sector to ensure that the padi-peasants enjoy the full fruits of their labour.