DAP calls for a referendum for the people of Labuan to decide whether they want to continue as Federal Territory or revert to Sabah State

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Mp for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Ceramah at Labuan on Wednesday, July 9, 1986 at 8 p.m.

DAP calls for a referendum for the people of Labuan to decide whether they want to continue as Federal Territory or revert to Sabah State

It is now over two years since Labuan was arbitrarily and undemocratically excised from Sabah State, and presented to the Federal Government as Federal Territory, without consultation either with the people of Labuan or Sabah.

The establishment of Labuan as Federal Territory stands as a constant reminder of the dictatorial rule of Harris Salleh as Sabah Chief Minister and why finally, the people of Sabah, starting with Tambanun in December 1984, stood up against dictatorship, leading to the toppling of Herris Salleh as Chief Minister and Berjaya as the ruling party.

The people of Labuan were promised unprecedented development on becoming Federal Territory, but over two years have passed, and the people of Labuan found that they are the most forgotten and neglected people in Malaysia.

As they are no more in Sabah, the Sabah State Government cannot and has no responsibility to look after the interests of Labuan.

Although it is part of Federal Territory, the Federal Government is too busy with its own problems, including the problems of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, to really have time to worry about the people of Labuan.

I understand that the basic facilities in Labuan are so backward that when it rains, Labuan becomes completely flooded because of clogged and unsatisfactory drainage system. Is this the ‘development’ that Harris Salleh promised to the people of Sabah when he arbitrarily gave Labuan as a personal gift to the Federal Government?

The various promises of development finds allocations continue to be just talk, with the low-cost houses like the Sabah Shipyard are retrenching workers.

The people of Labuan have left the protection of Sabah State without getting any protection of the Federal Government. They are now left high and dry.

I visited Labuan in May 1985 with DAP MP for Sandakan, Fung Ket Wing, and at that time I received numerous complaints from the people of Labuan, like the exorbitant assessments and business licensing rates.

When I returned to Kuala Lumpur, Sdr.Fung and I specially met the Federal Territory Minister, Datuk Sharir Samad, and brought to his attention the problems and grievances of the people of Labuan. The Federal Territory Minister, who is in charge of Labuan, did not know about these problems, and promised to look into them to relieve the hardships of the Labuan people.

I am glad to hear that there have been reduction of assessment and business licensing rates in Labuan, but the reduction are too small, and I call on the Federal Territory Minister to ensure that there is further reduction of assessment rates and business trading licensing fees in Labuan.

Whatever it is, the wrong Harris Salleh did to Labuan and Sabah by arbitrarily handing Labuan to Federal Government without the consultation of the views of the people of Labuan and Sabah must be rectified.

The DAP calls for a referendum for the people of Labuan to decide whether they want to continue as a Federal Territory, or revert back to the Sabah State.

If the Federal Government has development plans for Labuan, which would benefit the Labuan People beyond any capability of the Sabah State Government, the Labuan people would definitely confirm their choice to remain as Federal Territory rather than revert as part of Sabah State.

The only problem is the people of Labuan know nothing about the real development plans and benefits they would get, and the holding of a referendum would force the Federal Government to present a detailed Master-plan for Labuan’s development, unless they want the people to vote for reversion back as part of Sabah State. If the Federal Government has no development plan for Labuan, referendum will excuse it as well.

Such a referendum will gave real legitimacy to the establishment of Labuan as Federal Territory as being at the choice of people of Labuan, in accordance with democratic principles, and not a secret personal deal between Datuk Harris Salleh and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr.Mahathir. If the people of Labuan do not out to be the Federal Territory, the Federal Government still respect their choice.

The Dap proposes to field a candidate in Labuan Parliamentary seat in the coming general elections, and the DAP’s campaign theme in Labuan will be to demand a referendum to be held for the people of Labuan to decide whether they want to remain as Federal Territory or return as part of Sabah State.

For over two years, the people of Labuan have lost their rights to voice their hopes about their future, and a referendum will restore to them this basic and fundamental right.

MCA cannot look after Labuan people’s rights and interests, when it is unable to secure respect and honourable place in Barisan Nasional itself

The MCA has set up braches in Labuan, but clearly, the MCA cannot speak up and fight for the rights and interests of the people of Labuan when it is unable to secure respect and honourable place in Barisan Nasional itself.

The MCA;s ineffectiveness and complete failure as political representatives of the people could be seen from its miserable record on the Sabah political crisis. When irresponsible political leaders of Barisan or Barisan-supported parties tried to topple the PBS Government of
Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan, in particular the 12 days of anarchy and lawlessness in March when there were illegal demonstrations, bomb blasts, arson and rioting, killing five people and destroying $10 million worth of property in Kota Kinabalu, not a single MCA Minister or leader dare to speak up.

This is the best example of MCA leaders who will never dare to go against the wishes of UMNO on any matter.

In any event, the MCA is fighting for survival in Peninsular Malaysia in the coming general elections, and will have no time for the Chinese in Labuan.

After 22-month MCA power-struggle, and the election of Tan Koon Swan as MCA President, the MCA has proved that it is even worse than during Neo Yee Pan’s days. The MCA has now a leaders who has been arrested on 15 charges of criminal breach of trust, cheating and fraud in Singapore, let out on bail for $40 million, and who dare not ask for a Cabinet post because of the shame it will do not only to the MCA, the Chinese community, but also the Malaysian nation.

How can MCA has respect from UMNO, let alone from the people, when it has a leader who is awaiting trial in Singapore for cheating and criminal breach of trust charges?

The MCA has become a shame to the Malaysian Chinese community and the Malaysian nation. It has forfeited the moral right to political leadership in Malaysia for any group of people. This is why the people of Labuan, and in particular the Chinese, should not have any false hopes about the MCA, and should reject the MCA as the people of Peninsular Malaysia are going to decimively reject the MCA in the next general elections.