Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday, July 3, 1987 on the 1986 and 1987 Supplementary Supply and Development Estimates
DAP calls on Parliament to vote out any government requests for supplementary funds until the government has produced a satisfactory formula to honour its Gopeng by-election pledge of full ‘dollar-for-dollar’ cash refund to 588,000 co-operative depositors by latest March 1989
From the government’s parliamentary performance at the current meeting so far, one could not be blamed for thinking that the Dewan Rakyat was called primarily to enabled the government to ask and get approval for supplementary operating and development estimates for 1986 and this year.
At a time when the country is going through an acute and protracted economic and financial crisis, the government must bear a heavier burden to convince Parliament and the rakyat that it could not avoid request for supplementary estimates, whether for operating or development – or for the government to convince MPs that the national exchequer would not bear a heavier burden from the supplementary estimates as economies and savings expenditures approved in the budgets proper.
This is because despite the oft-repeated boast of a ‘clean, efficient and trustworthy’ government, there is widespread waste, inefficiency and misuse of funds in the public service.
Inefficiency and incompetence is and expensive luxury Malaysia cannot afford at this time of economic and financial crisis – and such inefficiency and incompetence is no where more pronounced and manifest than in Parliament itself, where we have Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries who clearly are not in command of their portforlios and responsibilities.
We saw early this week, the Deputy Minister of Finance, Loke Yuen Yow, showing his ignorance and incompetence when answering the question on Bank Negara’s rescue of Sabah Bank, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Trade and Industry, M.G. Pandithan, showing equal ignorance and incompetence when answering the question on foreign investment.
How can we expect the 750,000 civil servants to show greater efficiency and competence, when Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries display their incompetence and inefficiency without any sense of shame or remorse in parliament – or is this ‘Leadership by Example’ in action!
The present parliament is the first time the new cabinet, after reshuffle following the Team A and Team B contest in UMNO in April, has been seen in action – and one gets the distinct impression that there is a general drop in parliamentary performance, standards and commitment of the new Cabinet! I hope this impression can be proved wrong, and I challenge the Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries to prove that there has been no drop in quality, standards or performance.
Call on government to work hard to overcome crisis of confidence
The budget, and the supplementary estimates, is the government’s annual strategy to promote growth and development in Malaysia. But it is pointless if the government is only concerned about asking for more additional allocations from Parliament, without giving equal or even greater importance to creating the conditions to stimulate and sustain growth and development in the country.
The Crisis of confidence which had plagued the Government leadership and country in the last three years had continued unabated. I congratulate the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, on his election as president of the recent United Nations sponsored International Conference on Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Vienna. This is a signal honour to Malaysia as well.
But anyone who thinks that this has resolved the crisis of confidence in the country would be far off the mark!
At previous meetings, UMNO MPs would challenge DAP for talking about ‘crisis of confidence’ charging that this is a pure figment of our imagination. I do not expect to be seriously challenged this time, for the DAP’s theme of ‘crisis of confidence’ was borrowed lock-stock and barrel to become the campaign theme of the Team B in the UMNO Presidential and Supreme Council elections in April. Imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery!
I am concerned however that the UMNO’s elections, and in particular the 43-vote humiliating victory of Dr. Mahathir Mohamed as UMNO President, would not create the healthy conditions for growth and development, as Team A in UMNO may be more pre-occupied in the next three years to prove themselves as better UMNO leaders than Team B in preparation for the 1990 UMNO General Assembly and the next UMNO lection battle, than as leaders of all Malaysians and the nation!
DAP deplores Ghaffar’s call for 50:50 ratio after 1990
This is why several events after the UMNO General Assembly had been highly counter-productive of any budgetary attempts to promote growth and development, or to resolve the crisis of confidence, such as the talk by the Deputy Prime Minister Ghaffar Baba, calling for a 50:50 distribution ratio between bumiputeras and non-bumiputeras under a new NEP extension after 1990!
The DPM’s talk of 50:50 ratio must be deplored, and if such irresponsible talks by top leaders continue unchecked, Malaysia will never be able to create the political, economic and social conditions for promoting economic recovery, growth and development, with the result that budgets and supplementary estimates will all fail in their objective as instruments of the country’s economic growth and development.
1990 – a year of national phobia
The Barisan Nasional government has created 1990 into a year of national phobia, as for two decades Malaysians had been made to be very concerned, worried or fear the approach of the year 1990.
In 1970, when the Government announced the New Economic Policy with its policy of percentages and quotas, the people were told that it was for 20 years till 1990 in order to achieve the overriding goal of national unity. Malaysians were told that they to bear with new injustices and inequalities, so that the old injustices and inequalities could be rectified – but that after 20 years, by 1990, everyone could look forward to a new Malaysian order where there would be equality, justice, harmony, freedom and democracy!
This is why talk about extension of NEP after 1990, and calls for 50:50 ratio, are regarded as a grave breach of faith made to all Malaysians in 1990 – and will have adverse repercussions on nation-building efforts.
For this reason, I call on the government, and in particular UMNO leaders, whether Team A or Team B, to put national interests above party or personal interests, and to deal with the question of ‘NEP after 1990’ with utmost circumspedtion, restraint and responsibility. In this regard, the government should act on the advice of the former Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn.
Call on University of Malaya Senate to repeal its ban on students taking non-Bahasa Malaysia courses as optional subjects
I do not want to go very far into a general policy debate here, but only to stress that the government must be aware of the indivisible relationship between the budgetary objective of promoting economic growth and development and other governmental functions, decisions and policies.
For instance, what is the use of spending millions of dollars in hosting the PATA conference and trying to promote Malaysia as a world tourist centre when Malaysia is getting the worst possible publicity with the daily bomb explosions, arson and riots in Sabah in March this year appearing on the television screens all over the world?
If the budgetary objectives are to succeed, the government must ensure that divisive, disruptive and distractive issues are kept to a minimum, whether it be the recent decision of the University of Malaya Senate to ban students from taking non-Bahasa Malaysia courses as optional subjects or the arbitrary rule by the Malacca Education Department on collective prayer or pledge in disregard of the rights and sensitivities of parents and other religions. The University of Malaya Senate should repeal its ban, and the Malacca Education Department withdraw its directive, to deal with the great economic problems of recession, unemployment and poverty.
I will like to remind the Government of the warning by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, recently, that public opinion when ignored too often, caused crisis and hardship to all involved” and had caused the downfall of Rulers, governments and nations!
Call for public inquiry whether exemption of import duties to Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. causing loss of $300,000 of duty is against national interest and result of abuse of power
The Finance Ministry has presented four sets of supplementary estimates asking for a total allocation of $262 million, but it is also at the same time, disregarding national interest by allowing the Treasury to forgo huge sums of revenue.
I will give one instance. In March 1987, the Minister of Finance Daim Zainuddin, exempted a company, Syariket Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. of No. 8, Jalan SS 25/22, Petaling Jaya, from import duty to import 500 metric tones of oranges from Port Klang, on the conditions that the fruits were imported secara ‘bulk bin’/kontena in loose form, and locally packed, before marketed.
These conditions were not observed by Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. which brought in the 500 mt of oranges (limau) in 28 containers in May and sent them out into the local markets – resulting in the government losing over $300,000 in duty collectible, apart from the adverse effects to the local fruit growers.
I understand that the Finance Minister is in the process of approving Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd. second application for import duty exemption to bring in 5,000 mt of oranges – which will result in the Treasury losing over $3 million of import duty.
The Finance Minister seems to be very generous in issuing licences to make money to Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd., which I understand has good connections with a top MCA leader, but this is clearly against public interest. I call for a public inquiry into the Finance Minister’s exemption of import dut6y to Syarikat Roda Ashita Sdn. Bhd., to ascertain whether it is in the national interest, whether there has been any abuse of power, and the real political connections of this company.
Did government decide to proceed with abolition of second pension because many leaders of UMNO Team B would enjoy them?
The Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, has not been able to convince Parliament and the people that he is serious about his budgetary proposals. The Cabinet announcement of the eve of the UMNO party elections in April about its abandonment of the budgetary decision to abolish pensions for new government employees with less than 10 years’ service is a good case in point. Clearly, it was not the merit of the CUEPAC objection to the budgetary decision to do away with the pension scheme for new public employees, but the need of Team A in UMNO to win UMNO delegate votes.
The same seems to be the case with the budgetary decision to abolish second and subsequent pensions. After the announcement by the Finance Minister last October, the government again hesitated when there were strong objections in UMNO quarters.
However, I understand that the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday has decided to proceed with this budgetary decision to completely tax away second and other subsequent pensions. The DAP welcomes this move, but the question I want to ask is, whether the Cabinet’s decision to proceed with the budgetary decision to abolish second and multiple pensions is motivated largely by the fact that many of the leaders of UMNO Team B would enjoy these facilities?
Cabinet and Finance Ministry highly negligent in not taking earlier action to protect the interests of 588,000 co-operative depositors
I view with great concern that there is a growing tendency on the part of the government to treat Parliament with utter contempt, to regard Parliament as a irritating formality with no real role of its own.
For instance, why didn’t the Finance Minister explain to Parliament the government’s decision to abandon the budgetary to abolish the pension system of government servants with less than 10 years of service?
This was a decision taken by Parliament after the two-month long budgetary debate, and the least Parliament expects is that it be informed of the reasons for this about-turn. What were the cost factors, for short, medium and long term in forgoing the budgetary decision to abolish the pension scheme?
In fact, Parliament must assert its right to control the Branch of Executive Government, and deny it of any requests for supplementary allocations until the Ministers come to the house to explain why the Government had reversed the budgetary decisions taken by Parliament.
I would go even further to propose that in future, the Dewan Rakyat must reject any new money ills, if the Government fails abysmally in discharging its governmental responsibilities to the people, or in failing to give to Parliament a full and satisfactory accounting of its various policies, measures and actions.
The Dewan Rakyat should make an immediate start to reassert itself and give meaning to the principle of parliamentary control over the Executive in this present four sets of supplementary allocations requested by the Government.
For this reason, I call on Parliament to vote out the four sets of supplementary allocations requested by the Government until and unless the Government has produced a satisfactory formula to honour its Gopeng by-election pledge of full ‘dollar-for-dollar’ cash refund to the 588,000 co-operative depositors by latest March 1989.
When I asked a question of the co-operative issue on the first day of the present Parliamentary meeting, all the Deputy Finance Minister, Senator Farid Ariffin, could say was to tell the depositors to be ‘patient’.
MCA President, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, MCA Ministers and other Barisan leaders have been telling the depositors to be ‘patient’ for close to a year, and their patience are near breaking point. I do not blame the depositors, for they had been made the victims of the $1.5 billion co-operative finance scandal which is the making of the unholy trinity, the Barisan Nasional Government, the MCA and Gerakan leaders, and the crooked and criminal co-operative ‘snakes’.
According to Senator Farid, the first time the Cabinet met on the co-operative issue was on 9th April 1986. Why didn’t the Government take action to protect the 588,000 co-operative depositors for four months?
Clearly, the Cabinet, the Finance Ministry and Bank Negara were highly negligent in not taking action earlier to protect the interests of the 588,000 co-operative depositors for fear that this would cause great damage to the general elections chances of MCA and Gerakan.
The 588,000 co-operative depositors’ interests, therefore, were sacrificed by the government to the political interests of MCA and Gerakan, and for this reason alone, the government cannot escape responsibility for ensuring that the 588,000 co-operative depositors do not suffer any dollar of loss from the scandal.
The MCA had recently promised that the government’s belated plan for the co-operative depositors would be announced by June 28, but this has again proved to be another empty promise.
The government’s requests for $263 million for supplementary expenditures for 1986 and 1987 can wait, but the demands of the 588,000 co-operative depositors for justice, fair play and full cash refund cannot be delayed any longer.
Unless the government can come out with a plan to resolve the co-operative issue, which fulfils the MCA’s Gopeng by-election pledge of t 100% cash refund on a dollar-for-dollar basis (inclusive of reasonable interest), the DAP calls on all MPs to strike down all money Bills and requests by the Government.
Is Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Kok Wee Kiat, applying for leave from the House to help prepare the defence of Mah-Kok and Din against Ka Wah bank’s suit?
Honesty, integrity and probity must be scrupulously upheld in government, or the country will lose a lot of money in corruption and graft, abuse of power and breach of trust.
This is why yesterday, I had objected to the ‘automatic’ granting of leave to the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Wang Choon Win, who faces criminal breach of trust charges over co-operative crimes in Komuda. This will do the image of Parliament no good at all. Wang Choon Wing is in the country, took part in the Gopeng by-election, and why must be apply for leave just because he is facing criminal breach of trust charges? Is the Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Kok Wee Kiat, also to apply for leave from Parliament to enable him to assist in the defence of Mah-Kok and Din against the suit by Ka Wah Bank – in connection with transactions at the time when he was a partner? Isn’t it more right that Wang Choon Wing should resign as Deputy Minister?