I am moving this $10 cut in the salary of the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Datuk Dr. Neo Yee Pan, to censure him for his failure to check and prevent the implementation of the ‘One Language, One Culture’ advertisement policy of the various Municipal and District Councils.
Only a few days ago, the Alor Star District council made it clear that it would not compromise on its advertisement regulations seriously affecting the usage of Chinese language on signboards and advertisements, and as a result, several Chinese businessmen had taken down their signboards and advertisements in protest.
In Malacca, the Melaka Tengah Municipal Council is implementing the second step of ‘One language, One Culture’ advertisement and signboards by penalizing the use of Chinese characters on signboards, business signs and advertisement by its 18-fold imposition of advertisement fees for old signboards, signs and advertisements which had never been required to pay advertisement fees.
When the Melaka Tengah Municipal Council implemented the first step of its ‘One Language, One Culture’ policy on signboards and advertisements in March this year, increasing advertising fees by as much as six times, the Malacca MCA leaders and Municipal Councillors assured the businessman that old signboards and advertisements which in the past were not required to pay fees would be exempted.
But six months later, these old signboards and advertisements, some of them as old as 50 or 100 years, were notified that they had to pay another three times, or a total increase of 18 times before the introduction of the new signboard regulations.
The same position is happening in Alor Star and in the other towns, for almost all District and Municipal Councils, including the Seremban Municipal Council, had adopted the same set of advertisement by-laws as in Malacca and Alor Star.
The definition of ‘advertisement’ is so wide that every sing of picture of wording seen by the public, whether outside or inside the house, is covered. This means in the third step of the implementation of the ‘One Language, One Culture’ advertisement policy, all the wordings inside shophouses and houses would be required to be less prominent that Bahasa Malaysia or pay 18 times the advertising fees.
What is shocking is that during the last 18 months when the ‘One Language, One Culture’ advertisement was swirling up and down the country, the Minister of Housing and Local Government, under whom the portfolio comes under direct charge and responsibility, showed complete indifference and did nothing to check and prevent the implementation of the ‘One Language, One Culture’ Advertisement By-laws by the various Municipal and District Councils.
He did nothing to stop the local authorities from defining Chinese firm names as ‘advertisement’ which is most ridiculous, for business firm names is meant for identification and not for advertisement. By this definition, private houses with private names would also be required to pay advertisement fees.
The Minister of Housing and Local Government should have used his Ministerial office to rein in the various Municipal and District Councils so as to respect the sensitivities of the various races about their own languages, especially after the incident in Setapak in Kuala Lumpur where Chinese signboards were demolished and trodden upon by Bandaraya enforcement officers.
Especially as he is MCA leader, Datuk Dr. Neo should have realised that the implementation of the ‘One Language, One Culture’ advertisement policy could be carried out in two stages:
Firstly, by the outright prohibition or restriction of the use of Chinese and other languages part from Bahasa Malaysia;
Secondly, by imposing punitive advertisement fees for using Chinese and other languages to discourage their use.
No wonder there was a suggestion in a Bahasa Malaysia daily recommending the Thai practise which required the use of Chinese and other languages apart from Thai language on signboards and advertisements to pay ten times the normal advertisement rates!
Furthermore, the Johore District Councils completely disregarded the constitutional right of Malaysians by imposing a requirement on the compulsory use of Jawi on signboards.
The Minister should have carried out his duties to ensure that the local authorities, which receive launching grants and other fund from the Federal Government, do not commit unconstitutional and unlawful acts, as well as acts which violate the Rukunegara.
I am prepared to withdraw this motion if Datuk Neo Yee Pan would give an assurance in this House that the ‘One Language, One Culture’ advertisement regulations of the various Municipal and District Councils in the country would be amended to withdraw all punitive advertisement fees for the use of mother-tongue languages on signboards and advertisements.
(Speech by Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang in Dewan Rakyat when moving a $10 cut from the Minister of Housing and Local Government’s salary on November 14, 1983)
Cat: culture / hegemony / language