Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat when tabling a motion against NEP injustices and inequalities on Monday, July 15, 1985.
NEP injustices and inequalities the biggest cause of national disunity and racial polarisation in Malaysia.
I wish to move:
“That this House resolves that in preparation for the Fifth Malaysia Plan l986-l990, the House establishes a Parliamentary Select Committee to inquire into the New Economic Policy injustices and inequalities which had defeated its two-prong objectives’ of eradicating poverty irrespective of race and the restructuring of Malaysian society to eliminate the identification of race with vocation or location as well as its overriding objective of achieving national unity”.
When the New Economic Policy was promulgated in 1970, it was announced that it had a two-prong objective of eradicating poverty, irrespective of race, and the restructuring of Malaysian society to eliminate the identification or race with vocation or location. But even more important than these two objectives is the overriding objective of the New Economic Policy to achieve national unity which has eluded Malaysia since Merdeka in l957.
The New Economic Policy, which had a time-span of twenty years from l970-l990, had failed in its overriding objective of being the primary instrument of welding Malaysians of diverse races, languages, cultures and religions into one Malaysian people with common identity, consciousness and sense of purpose although it had been in operation for 15 years.
This is best illustrated by the admission of the Barisan Nasional leaders, in particular by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, in July last year, that racial polarisation in Malaysia had become so serious that it had affected school children!
The New Economic Policy has not only failed to achieve national unity, it had become the most divisive force in the country creating even greater alienation and antagonism among the people.
No Malaysian opposes the two proclaimed objectives of the NEP to eradicate poverty irrespective of race and the restructuring of Malaysian society to eliminate the identification of race with vocation or locations.
After l5 years of implementation of the NEP, it could be said without fear of contradiction that the NEP had failed on both prongs. Hard core poverty, whether among the Malays or non-Malays, in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah or Sarawak, had remained an intractable problem, with the gap between the rich and the poor growing ever wider under the NEP. Although the Barisan Nasional government made great play about the magnitude of the problem of Malay poverty, the problem of the disparity between the Malay poor the the small class of NEP Malay rich who could accumulate wealth and assets of hundreds of millions of dollars in a matter of months has become most acute under the NEP.
The second prong objective of restructuring Malaysian society had been implemented in a most discriminatory and selective manner that instead of creating national unity, it had fostered division and disharmony.
When the New Economic Policy was launched in 1970, one Prime Minister after another had pledged that in its implementation, the government would ensure that ‘no particular group experiences any loss or feels any sense of deprivation’. But this cardinal pledge and principle of the NEP seemed to have been ignored so often during its implementation that one is entitled to wonder whether it had become a policy decision to disregard it.
The case of the Boon Brothers petrol station in Sitiawan is a very good case in point about the new injustices and inequalities created by the New Economic Policy. The Boon Brothers had been operating a petrol station business for sixty years, but after the expiry of the lease of the petrol station, the Perak State Government refused to renew the lease to enable Boon Brothers to continue its long-standing traditional petrol station business.
If the Perak State government had wanted to use the land for some public purpose, no one could complain. But what the Perak State Government did was to give the lease to a bumiputra company, Manjung Development Sdn Bhd, which had only $4 paid up capital, to carry out exactly the same petrol station business!
If this is not the NEP causing loss or depriving Malaysians of their rights and traditional livelihoods, l do not know what is.
In this particular case, it is of still not too late for the Perak State Government to honour the cardinal NEP pledge not to deprive Boon Brothers of its rights. It should call up Manjung Development Sdn. Bhd. and get the company directors to agree to surrender the lease back to the government so that it could be renewed to enable Boon Brothers to continue its petrol station business, while the State government could alienate another piece of land in Sitiawan to Manjung Development Sdn Bhd. In this manner, the rights and interests of all parties under the NEP would be looked after.
CIVIL SERVICE POLARISED
The NEP injustices and inequalities are not confined to this one case of Boon Brothers, but extend to all fields of national life. The Barisan Nasional should realise that if its restructuring process is confined to certain sectors, groups or to affect certain races only, then it runs counter to the NEP’s overriding objective of creating national unity because it would be spawning new inequalities and injustices.
The civil service, where the MIC President and Minister for Works, Datuk Samy Vellu, had finally admitted is polarized by discriminatory policies with regard to recruitment and promotion opportunities to non-Malay public servants, is another significant area. Although UMNO Ministers had denied that there is discrimination in recruitment and promotion opportunities for non-Malay civil servants only the abolition of such discriminatory policies could serve the cause or rational unity. For instance, in the last two decades, there had not been a single non-Malay appointed to the post of Vice Chancellor of the country’s seven universities. Is it because there is no single non-Malay who is qualified to hold the post of Vice Chancellor in a local university in Malaysia? Again, the most senior civil servant was by-passed for the appointment as Chief Secretary recently, obviously because he is a non-Malay although he was second to none in experience, ability or seniority. Is this not discriminatory policy in the civil service unjustly affecting the promotional prospects of non-Malay civil servants?
There are many other areas where NEP injustices and inequalities contaminate the nation-building process, as in the virtual dominance of Felda schemes by one racial group; the allocation of university places and scholarships; licensing and granting of permits; the allocation of low-cost housing, etc. So long as these NEP injustices and inequalities are allowed to multiply unchecked, the overriding objective of NEP to achieve national unity would not only fail, the NEP would be the chief instrument for national disunity.
This is why I propose that a Parliamentary Select Committee should be established, as a preparation for the Fifth Malaysia-Plan l986-l990, to inquire into the NEP injustices and inequalities which had defeated the two-prong NEP objectives of eradicating poverty irrespective of race and the restructuring of Malaysian society to eliminate the identification of race with vocation or location, as well as its overriding objective of achieving national unity.
Last Friday, when speaking to Foreign correspondents in the Federal Capital for the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Conference, Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, said that the Government would not extend the New Economic Policy after 1990 but the Government would continue to pursue the NEP objectives. A change in the name of the policy without substantial changes in policy directions
would mean no great or real change at all.
Whatever the government’s intentions after 1990, the country is faced with the new injustices created by the NEP in the last 15 years of its implementation which must be identified and rectified so that the overriding objective of national unity could be achieved.