Call on Dr.Mahathir Mohamed to intervene and end the unseemly Ministerial squabble over the Selancar Empat ‘Hell Estate’

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, August 26, 1983:

Call on Dr.Mahathir Mohamed to intervene and end the unseemly Ministerial squabble over the Selancar Empat ‘Hell Estate’

The Prime Minister, Dr.Mahathir Mohamed, should intervene and end the most unseemly Ministerial squabble over the Selancar Empat ‘Helda Hell Estate’, where contract workers had been subjected to illegal detention, criminal assault and various forms of labour exploitation and human indignities.

The Selancar Empat Felda ‘Hell Estate’ exploitation of contract workers should cause the government to conduct a full-scale inquiry into the whole system of contract labour, and in particular the plight of contract workers in Felda schemes and remote estates, in view of the acknowledged fact that what was revealed at Selancar Empat Hell Estate is merely the tip of an iceberg.

But there appears to be powerful interests seeking to block any large-scale inquiry into the exploitation of the contract labour system, especially in the Felda schemes, and the most outspoken is none other than the Minister for Land and Regional Development, Datuk Rais Yatim, who had said that the allegations of brutality and ill-treatment of contract workers at Selancar Empat Felda ‘Hell Estate’ had been found by Felda investigations to be untrue.

Datuk Rais Tatim appears to arrogate to himself the role of a ‘Super-Minister’, overriding other Ministers in the Cabinet, like the Labour Minister although Labour Ministry officials had said that they would be prosecuting the Selancar Empat contractor for breaches of the labour law; the Attorney-General, to whom had been referred Police investigations into police report lodged by the Selancar Empat workers of criminal offences committed against them, and who had to announce whether to initiate criminal prosecutions or not; and even the Minister of Works, Datuk Samy Vellu, whose hasty transfer of the Selancar Empat contract workers to Trengganu had hampered and even obstructed detailed investigations into the Selancar Empat ‘Hell Estate’ scandal.

I suggest that the next Cabinet meeting should put the Selancar Empat Felda ‘Hell Estate’ scandal on its agenda, and end the inter-Ministerial squabble and intrusion into each other’s domain, by giving the Malaysian workers a clear picture whether the Government is serious or otherwise in wanting to root out the abuses and evils of the contract labour system as highlighted by the Selancar Empat Felda ‘Hell Estate’ scandal.

The exploitation and evils of contract labour system, which affect some 200,000 workers, should not be side-tracked by Ministterial quarrels.