Call on Government to freeze issue of work permits for British expatriates for Antah Bawater scheme

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, August 5, 1987.

Call on Government to freeze issue of work permits for British expatriates for Antah Bawater scheme

There has rightly been widespread concerm at the indiscriminate issue of work permits by the immigration authorities for the entry of British expatriates for the $104 billion Antah Biwater rural water supply contract.

This has created a very grave problem when the country is facing a massive and unprecedented unemployment problem, especially among local engineers.

When I first raised this issue in Parliament, the immigration department had issued work permits for 12 British expatriates. In a matter of one month, this increased to over three times, to some 40 British expatriates.

The Antah Biwater privatization contract, which was signed by the Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, on 24th March 1986, made it very clear that priority of employment would be given to Malaysians, and that British expatriates would only be brought in if there are no locals suitable for the jobs concerned.

It is inconceivable that suitable Malaysians could not be found for all the positions now held by British expatriates in Antah Biwater from the 6,000 local applications which flooded the company since last November. The British expatriates are also given remuneration five or six times more than the average Malaysian professionals.

I call on the government to immediately freezes the issue of work permits for expatriates for the Antah Biwater project, until an independent inquiry comprising representatives from the government and the engineering profession is satisfied that there were no suitable Malaysians available for the expatriate posts for which work permits have been issued.

2. Restricted area is not an area where the military is given a licence for wanton and indiscriminate killing

The killing of R. Puniselvam, by security forces in a restricted area off the Karak Highway last Friday raises many questions of public concern.

Pahang CPO, SACP (1) Mohamed Som Sulaiman, said security forces conducting operation in security areas were allowed to open fire without any warning.

The Malaysian public are entitled to know whether this is interpreted to mean that a restricted area gives the security forces the licence for wanton and discriminate killing without having to account for their actions.

This cannot be the case, for even in a security area, the force applied by the security forces must be commensurate with the circumstances and danger of each case. For instance, if an unarmed person is frightened by the security forces in a security area from a distance and in circumstances which does not pose threat or danger to live o limb of the soldiers, surely the security forces are not entitled to just open fire to kill, without checking or challenging the person present. Otherwise, the holder of a curfew pass in a security area can be shot and killed anytime without any redress whatsoever.

It is for his reason that the family of R. Puniselvam as well as the general public want to know the circumstances whereby the security forces opened fire to kill him. Only a full inquest can establish the circumstances and the cause of death of R. Puniselvam.

The police have said that Puniselvam was an attempted hijacker. At the inquest, the police can produce evidence to substantiate their allegation but this is a completely different issue from the question as to whether in a security area, the security forces have been given the licence for wanton and indiscriminate killing.

The further question of why no proper post-mortem was conducted in a case think with queries about the death of Puniselvam is another public interest issue. I hope that the authorities will be able to answer satisfactorily the circumstances and the cause of death of Puniselvam, but even more important, the large interest issue arising from this killing.