Ipoh Structure Plan will not help in achieving national unity as it is a plan to ‘bumiputra-ise’ and not to ‘Malaysian-ise’ Ipoh

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Perak meeting on ‘Ipoh Structure Plan’ held at Perak DAP premises on Sunday, 23.9.1984

Ipoh Structure Plan will not help in achieving national unity as it is a plan to ‘bumiputra-ise’ and not to ‘Malaysian-ise’ Ipoh

The DAP oppose the Ipoh Structure Plan for a number of fundamental reasons.

Firstly, the Ipoh Structure Plan is a plan for the ‘bumiputra-isation’ and not ‘Malaysian-isation’ of Ipoh. At a time when the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, has expressed grave concern at the racial polarization even among students in schools, the Ipoh Structure Plan with its objectives of ‘bumiputra-isation’ can only worsen the situation. The Ipoh Structure Plan must be a document and a plan for the ‘Malaysianisation’ of Ipoh, so that all communities who read it would be able to fully identify with it, as well as being inspired by it.

I do not think the non-Malay communities who read the Ipoh Structure Plan would feel elated or inspired by it – on the contrary their reaction is one of deep worry and anxieties about the future.

The Second fundamental objection to the Ipoh Structure Plan is that it runs counter to National Policy in assuming that the New Economic Policy would be extended after 1990, for the Ipoh Structure Plan is based on the premise that the New Economic Policy would be extended all the way to Year 2000.

The question of the extension of the New Economic Policy which was originally set for 20 years from 1970 to 1990 had been a hot topic recently, with demands from UMNO leaders for its extension from 1990 to 2000. the DAP has expressed strong opposition to this proposal, for after 20 years of the New Economic Policy, the time has come for the abandonment of policies of racial percentages and racial quotas – as the New Economic Policy is undoubtedly one of the chief causes of worsening racial polarizations in Malaysia.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri. Dr. Mahathir, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, had not committed themselves as yet, saying that there are still six years to go. But the drafters of the Ipoh Structure Plan dare to do what even the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister had not done – i.e. assume that the New Economic Policy would be extended from 1990 to year 200.

I want to know what gave the drafters of the Ipoh Structure Plan such power and authority to decide national policy?

Thirdly, the Ipoh Structure Plan seems to be just a farce, where the people would have no opportunity to give their views and have the public’s aspirations respected and heeded.

Paragraph 5.22 of the Ipoh Structure Plan States:

“The objective to achieve at least 30% Bumiputera population has been formulated by the Steering Committee.”

What is this Steering Committee? Who are its members? Is the MCA, Gerakan and MIC represented on the Steering Committee? Is the 30% Bumiputera population in Ipoh by year 2000 an issue where there is no room for discussion, as it is already ‘formulated’ by the Steering Committee?

The Ipoh Structure Plan must be seen in the state and national context. If there is a plan to ensure 39% bumiputera population in Ipoh by year 2000, by the same reasoning, is there a similar decision to ensure that by the year 2000, all the Felda schemes in Perak would have at least 30 per cent non-bumiputera population, in contrast to the present 2 or 3 percent of non-bumiputera population in the Felda schemes?

The Ipoh Structure Plan must be studied in greater depth by all sections of the public, and the six-week period given for public representations is clearly inadequate. I call on the authorities concerned to extend the deadline for public representation on Oct. 6 by at least another two months till Dec. 6, so that a thorough public involvement could be ensured.

The Ipoh Structure Plan must be considered from the long-term effects on the cultural, religious, socio-economic, educational rights of all communities, religions, cultures in the Perak capital.

The Bukit China issue in Malacca should be a warning and reminder to all that if the people are not vigilant about their religious, cultural and political rights, similar attempt to trample on the people’s cultural and religious rights as in the Bukit China issue could also happen in Ipoh and elsewhere.

The future of Chinese primary schools in the Ipoh town should also be considered, as the re-location of such schools to areas far from town could discourage school enrolment.

For the past decade, Ipoh had been hard hit because of Perak’s declining economy resulting from the sharp slowdown of mining and quarrying activities. Both the Federal and State Governments had failed to take remedial steps to restore Perak economy, resulting in Perak registering Gross State Product growing at an annual real growth rate of 6.07 per cent from 1970 to 1980, as compared to the Peninsular Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product annual growth rate of 9.22%.

Housing, in particular or low-cost housing, for the low-income is another big area of failure of the Barisan Nasional government and the Ipoh Municipality.

The DAP will arrange for a second Perak State meeting on the Ipoh Structure Plan to ensure that the people of Ipoh realize the wide-ranging implications and repercussions of the Ipoh Structure Plan.