By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 7.6.1984:
DAP greatly disappointed by the failure of MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers and MP to publicity declare their objections the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement to legalize illegal Indonesian immigrants.
Last Sunday, at the DAP Malacca Socialist Youth seminar on the Problems and Prospects of Malaysia in the 1990s, I challenged MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and MIC Ministers and MPs to declare within 48 hours whether they dared to join DAP MPs in the July 16 meeting of Parliament to move a joint motion objecting to the Malaysia-Indonesian agreement to legalise illegal Indonesian immigrants.
Ninety-six hours have passed, and there has been a deafening silence from the Ministers and MPs from the Barisan Nasional component parties, including both the Neo Yee Pan and Tan Koon Swan factions in the contenting MCA! The Tan Koon Swan faction could within 48 hours conduct a blitzkrieg campaign throughout the country to collect 1,449 signatures for the MCA extraordinary general meeting, but for the even more fundamental issue connected with the legalization of illegal Indonesian immigrant and the import of more Indonesian labour, the Tan Koon Swan faction could not even utter a public stand after 96 hours.
I find this most disappointing, for I am sure the MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers and MPs know fully well that the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement concluded by Datuk Musa Hitam, the Deputy Prime Minister, in Sumatra just before the UMNO party elections last month, would have far-reaching political, economic, social, educational, cultural and even religious implications for the people, and the future generations. Yet, sake of being in the good books of the UMNO leaders, so as not to spoil their chances of future political advancement in the government, they are all prepared to accept policies which run contrary to the views and aspirations and interest of the people.
Can we blame the UMNO for the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement when all the Ministers and MPs from the MCA (both Neo and Tan factions), Gerakan, MIC and SUPP in Cabinet and Parliament assure the UMNO leadership of their support?
In the last 96 hours, there was a statement by the Gerakan Director of Political Bureau, Ker Choo Ting, the ‘star’ of the Tung/Chiau Chung campaign in the 1982 general elections to ‘assault the Barisan Nasional, to rectify the Barisan Nasional’.
Mr. Ker urged the government to consider the adverse consequences of importing Indonesian labour. While I welcome Mr.Ker’s sentiments, I find his statement most shocking.
Does he mean that the government had not considered the implications and repercussions when Datuk Musa signed the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement on the supply of Indonesian labour last month? If this was the case, then what were the Gerakan Cabinet representatives as well as the other Gerakan leaders, like Mr.Ker doing during the whole period when the Malaysian government was negotiating with the Indonesian authorities on the matter?
I have no doubt that the Cabinet was informed, and the agreement of the other Barisan component parties sought and obtained, before Datuk Musa represented Malaysia to conclude the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement to legalise illegal Indonesian immigrants.
Whichever is the case, the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement to legalise illegal Indonesian immigrants is the latest of a long list of example in the last two years that Mr.Ker and the Tung/Chiau Chung’s strategy of ‘assault the BN to rectify the BN’ had failed disastrously!
It would appear that Mr.Ker and the ‘Assault the BN to rectify the BN’ has been reduced to issuing the press statements or writing memoranda after the government had decided on a new policy or measure. If this is all that is meant by the ‘assault the BN to rectify the BN’, surely, the issuing of press statements and writing of memoranda could be done without entry into the Barisan.
If the ‘Attack the BN to rectify the BN’ is to have any meaning, then it must mean that Mr.Ker and the Tung/Chiau Chung group through the Gerakan could exercise direct influence in the policy-making process, so that the final decision would have incorporated their views, and ideas and proposals, In other words, the final product would be a ‘rectified’ product.
If the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement legalise illegal Indonesian immigrants is a ‘rectified’ policy, then those who had supported and voted for the strategy of ‘Assault the BN to rectify the BN’ must greatly regret their voting in the April 1982 general elections, which caused the Barisan Nasional, to have a landslide victory and the DAP to suffer a disastrous defeat.
Be that as it may, it is not my present intention to draw up an account of the success or failure of the ‘Assault the BN to rectify the BN’ strategy, but try to get the MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP leaders, and in particular their Ministers and MPs, to undo the great harm they had done by supporting the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement.
In fact, the 2-M government had misled Parliament during the debate on the Mid-Term Review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan in not informing the House of its intention to legalise the illegal Indonesian immigrants and that its negotiations with the Indonesian authorities on the matter was in the final stage.
The conclusion of the Malaysian-Indonesian agreement was against the whole spirit of the Mid-Term Review. Thus, Paragraph 58 of the
Mid-Term Review said that the government would give attention to resolve the structural problems of labour shortage, manpower planning, training and raising labour productivity. It went on to say that ‘Rural occupations or activities will need to be made more remunerative, the government has proceeded to sign the agreement with Indonesia to legalise illegal Indonesian immigrants.
Paragraph 224 of the Mid-Term Review identified as one answer to the high incidence of poverty among the estate workers, which cause labour shortage in estate areas, the greater contribution by employers and management to raise the standard of living of workers in the estates.
Again, nothing has been done in this regard before the conclusion of the Malaysia-Indonesia agreement.
The Mid-Term Review of the Fourth Malaysian Plan has now revised upwards the rate of unemployment in 1985, which is expected to be 6.2% involving 371,200 persons as compared to the original estimate 4.9% involving 305,500 persons made under the Plan in 1981.
In legalizing the some 300,000 illegal Indonesian immigrants in the country, and the importation of more Indonesian labour envisaged under the agreement concluded by Datuk Musa, the unemployment problem in the country would only worsen.
The labour dimension of the Malaysia-Indonesia labour agreement, together with the long outstanding problem of the status of the 300,000 stateless red identity holders, and the law-and order aspects of a further increase in the number of Indonesian immigrants, demand that before the agreement concluded, there must be the fullest discussion and agreement by Malaysians to this new government policy.
One method of reaching a national consensus on this issue is to hold a referendum on the illegal Indonesian immigrant issue. Would MCA, (especially the Tan Koon Swan faction which is pressing for a referendum inside the MCA), the Gerakan, MIC and SUPP agree that there must be a national referendum before any implementation of the Malaysia-Indonesia agreement to importation and legalise of Indonesian labour?