Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary – General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the Sungei Besi DAP Branch Anniversary Dinner held at Mak Yee Restaurant, Wisma Shaw, Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 2nd July 1983 at 8 p.m.
The power of the Raub Declaration has achieved its first result: the withdrawal of the Bandaraya requirement that Bahasa Malaysia on signboards and advertisements must be at least double the size of Chinese and other letterings.
After the MCA’s April 1982 General Elections ‘breakthrough’ and ‘great victory’, Malaysian Chinese found that their constitutional rights and interests came under sustained attack on a whole variety of directions. The MCA, despite its great and unprecedented general elections victory at the expense of the DAP, was not only unable to regain the rights lost from 1957 to 1982, instead since April 1982, even more rights and interests of the Malaysian Chinese faced erosion.
One such erosion is the attempt after the April 1982 General Elections victory of the Barisan Nasional by the various local authorities to introduce new regulations governing signboards and advertisements.
Despite the MCA’s great ‘political breakthrough’ of the general elections, the various local authorities which all had MCA District Councillors or Municipal Councillors, seemed to compete with each other as to who could outdo the others. As a result, at one time, some local authorities wanted Bahasa Malaysia on signboards and advertisements to be bigger than Chinese and other languages by double the size, other three times and there was even one local authority which was talking about four times the size.
The MCA Minister of Housing and Local Government, Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan, who was responsible for co-ordinating and unifying the regulations and by- laws of the various local authorities, dared not say a single word or do a single thing to put a firm stop to such unconstitutional encroachments on the rights of Malaysians to the free use of their mother- tongue languages.
Of course, MCA leaders outside Cabinet and Parliament made the usual noises to get publicity to distract public attention from the fact that the MCA in the various district or Municipal councils concerned had agreed with such new signboard and advertisement by- laws, as well as the embarrassing fact that MCA Ministers in Cabinet had not acted firmly to rectify and end such unconstitutional actions;
It was only when the DAP gave the MCA a thumping defeat in the Kepayang by- election on Oct. 16. 1982 with a near 10,000 majority despite the poor voter turn- out of less than 60 per cent, that the Barisan Nasional leaders were forced to realize that the DAP was not a spent political force, and that what the DAP stood for indeed represented the widespread aspirations of significant sections of the Malaysian people.
There was no more talk of Bahasa Malaysia must be three or four times the size Chinese or other characters on signboards and advertisements, but the various local authorities, like Bandaraya, stuck to the requirement that Bahasa Malaysia must be double the size of Chinese and other characters.
Again, the MCA Ministers were completely impotent and the Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan, dared not raise the matter in the Cabinnet.
Again, it was after the Raub by- election of June 4, 1983, where the DAP crushed the MCA in its traditional stronghold by a majority of 1,846 votes that the Bandaraya authorities announced the withdrawal of the requirement that Bahasa Malaysia must be at least double the size of Chinese or other characters on signboards.
This is therefore the first result of the Raub Declaration of the people of Raub, in reaffirming the Kepayang Declaration of last October for a Malaysia where the basic and constitutional rights of all Malaysians are fully respected, and in their ringing rejection of the ‘one language, one culture’ nation building policy for the 1980s.
The other local authorities in the various States have as yet to make a clear- cut announcement that they have abandoned their requirement that Chinese language characters should be one- half, one- third or one- fourth that of Bahasa Malaysia on signboards, and the abandonment of the unconstitutional requirement that Jawi must be compulsorily used on signboards.
The signboards issue has not been completely resolved as yet, for the new fees imposed by the various local authorities are so high as to contain a ‘punitive’ element for use of too many languages. Thus, signboards using only Bahasa Malaysia would cost less in local authority signboard fees than signboards using more than one language, which perforce had to be bigger than mono – lingual signboards. The signboard fees should be drastically reduced in all the local authorities so as to remove the ‘punitive’ element, penalising the use of more than one language.
Malaysians must take strength from the Kepayang and Raub Declarations to unite behind the DAP banner to demand the withdrawal of the ‘one language, one culture’ nation building policy of the 1980s, so that our basic constitutional rights are respected and safeguarded.
Call on Datuk Musa to arrange that Pusat Seranti Tampin escapees who surrender themselves would not be sent back to Tampin Centre until completion of police investigations into allegations of brutalities and torture at Centre.
The Seremban Police said yesterday that it is carrying out a ‘routine’ investigation, with the help of Bukit Aman officers, into two police reports of brutalities, inhumanities and tortures of inmates at the Pusat Seranti Tampin.
So far, three inmates who have become escapees had alleged a system of brutalities, inhumanities and tortures meted out to Tampin Brug Rehabilitation centre inmates, which are backed up by three others, who were sent to the Tampin Centre for urine test and released after one night’s stay when the test proved negative, testifying to the brutalities, inhumanities and tortures at the Centre.
These are not ‘routine’ allegations, as it affects not one case, or one person, or one personnel, but virtually a system of brutalities, inhumanities and tortures, and as such, investigations must be high- powered and impartial.
Two days ago, in Seremban, I had accompanied a construction worker from Pedas, Solakaondek A/L Valismy, 32, I/C 4231812, who had narrated to the press his experience at the Pusat Seranti when he was sent there for a urin e test which subsequently proved negative.
Apart from his own ordeal of being tortured and assaulted, he spoke of the terrible experience the night he spent at the Centre when, at about 1 a.m. (25th June), he saw six military personal assaulting a Skih inmate wheom they accused of wanting to escape. Solakaondek said he saw the soldier hitting the Sikh inmate indiscriminately all over the body. One soldier grabbed the Sikh inmate by the hair with both hands and lifted him off the floor, for the other soldiers to assault him all over. Solakaondek was so shocked by the experience that he fainted away. When he recovered some 10 minutes later, the soldiers were still assaulting the Sikh inmate, and this went on on and off for the next two hours.
My attention has now been drawn to a press report which seems to be related to Solakaondek’s account. Thus, the New Straits Times of 28th June reported under the heading ‘One more runs from rehab centre’, the following:
*One more dadah addict from the one- stop rehabilitation centre, Pusat Seranti, has escaped bringing the total number of escapees in the last three days to 10.
*Baluarie Singh, 20, of Rahang near Seremban escaped after lodging a report that he had been assaulted by officials and guards at the centre.
*Sources said Baluarie first made an allegation of assault to a magistrate at the centre. On hearing the complaint, the magistrate advised him to lodge a police report. He complied and lodged the report. He was then admitted to the Tampin district hospital.
*But Baluarie left the hospital ward at 7 p.m. leaving a message that he was running away for fear that he would be sent back to the centre.
I do not know whether Baluarie Singh was the Sikhn inmate Solakaondek saw on the morning of 25th June being subjected to inhuman assaults, but I have advised and arranged for Solakaondek to lodge an official police report of his advised and arranged for Solakaondek to lodge an official police report of his experiences in the Seremban Police Station this morning. Solakaodek was accompanied by the DAP Assemblyman for Rasa, M.Kuppusamy, to the Seremban Police Station this morning.
I welcome the statement by the Minister of Land and Regional Development, Datuk Rais Yatim, who is the National Chairman of Pemadam, that there should be rectification of some of the conditions at Pusat Seranti, and that the people involved in rehabilitation work should be trained, with more effective methods.
I also welcome the concern of the Human Rights Committee of the Malayan Bar about the conditions of the inmates at Pusat Seranti Tampin.
I call on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, to arrange that the escapees from Pusat Seranti Tampin who surrender themselves would not be sent back to Tampin Centre until the completion of Police investigations into the allegations of brutalities, inhumanities and tortures at the Centre, and the ending of such inhuman treatment of inmates at the Centre.