Speech (Part II) by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at the second round of nation-wide public protest meetings of 588,000 co-operative depositors held in Kuala Lumpur at Federal Hotel, KL, on Sunday, 29th March 1987 at 9pm.
Call on 588,000 co-operative depositors to converge on Gopeng to hold a week-long Depositors’ Protest Camp. during the by-election to highlight their grievances and suffering.
Before I spoke, I was asked by several co-operative depositors what they could do to get the Government to realize their sufferings and understand that it has a legal, political and moral responsibility to resolve the grievances of the 588,000 co-operative depositors fairly and unjustly, and without any undue delay.
The answer must lie with the 588,000 depositors, whether they are prepared to make use of their citizenship rights, through all peaceful and democratic means, to organize themselves to protest up and down the country until the Government takes serious attention of their determination that they will not allow the co-operative finance scandal to rest until they get their rightful monies back.
In fact, there may be those who ask why we are having another protest meeting of co-operative depositors in Kuala Lumpur. Let me say that when co-operative depositors are not prepared to find the time and effort to attend protest co-operative depositors’ protest meetings, then it is a loud signal to the Barisan Nasional Government that they can write off they entire issue as the depositors have given up all hope and all struggle to get ‘dollar-to-dollar’ refund.
The 588,000 co-operative depositors, in Kuala Lumpur and throughout the country, must be prepared to hold protest public meetings regularly, and support all other forms of protest actions, to continue to keep their demands in the centre of national attention.
If necessary, the 588,000 depositors must be prepared to come out to demonstrate. They must be peaceful and law-abiding, but determined to exercise their basic and fundamental citizenship right to protest against injustice. In today’s newspapers, the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub, said that the prisons system is so overcrowded that it is on the verge of a breakdown. He said the main cause is that there are 5,000 to 7,000 prisoners held are drug addicts.
Is the Government going to arrest all the 588,000 co-operative depositors if they come out openly but peacefully to demonstrate that justice must be done to them? Then the whole country may have to be turned into a prison system! In fact, it may be a good idea that government arrest all the 588,000 co-operative depositors and feed them, which will be one way for the Government to compensate the depositors. But I am afraid the Government may go bankrupt first? If it had to feed the 588,000 depositors and their dependants, amounting to some three million people.
The Gopeng by-election will be held within the next 60 days. It is going to be the focus of national, regional and international attention. The 588,000 co-operative depositors should make use of the Gopeng by-election to highlight their plight, suffering and grievances, to make the Barisan National Government come face to face with the human sufferings and dimensions in the Co-operative Finance Scandal. It may be a good idea if the 588,000 co-operative depositors from all over the country converge on Gopeng during the by-election and hold a week-long Depositors’ Protest Camp to touch the conscience of the Barisan National Ministers and leaders.
I hereby call on the MCA Ministers to endorse the seven-point demands of the Gopeng Declaration of Co-operative Depositors, and to raise them in Cabinet and the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council.
These seven-point demands of the Gopeng Declaration of Co-operative Depositors are as follows:
1. That the Barisan Nasional provide a $600 million rescue fund to enable a ‘dollar-to-dollar’ return to the 588,000 co-operative depositors, especially as it had rescued Bank Rakyat with $150 million and Bank Bumiputera with $2.5 billion, while in recent months, bailed out Co-operative Centrak Bank, United Asian Bank and Perwira Habib Bank with $740 million;
2. That the co-operative finance issue be re-opened in Cabinet for a new policy decision to give dollar-to-dollar guarantee to the 588,000 depositors, as Bank Negara could only act on the directives of the Cabinet.
3. That the Barisan Nasional Government immediately releases the full list of the big borrowers of co-operatives to prove that it had ‘nothing to hide.’
4. That the Barisan Nasional Government should invoke the full powers of the law to make the defaulting directors and officials of co-operatives to make restitution and compensation to the co-operatives;
5. That the Barisan Nasional Government should arrest and prosecute all persons, including co-operative directors and officials, responsible for the Co-operative Finance Scandal;
6. That the Barisan Nasional Government establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate as to how the government could be so negligent and irresponsible in the past five years as to become the single biggest cause of the $1.5 billion Co-operative Finance Scandal; and
7. That there should be a minimum of six-monthly pay-outs of at least 10 per cent each to the 588,000 co-operative depositors, the second payment to be made by June this year.
I call on all MCA branches and members to endorse this seven-point demand of the Gopeng Declaration of Co-operative Depositors, and to put pressure on MCA Ministers if they refuse to endorse it themselves.