DAP to hold protest demonstrations in four toll gates

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Malacca on Tuesday, August 11, 1987 at 12 noon

DAP to hold protest demonstrations in four toll gates at Federal Territory, Sungei Besi Plaza (Selangor), Seremban and Ayer Keroh (Malacca) simultaneously on Thursday at 8.30 a.m. and calls on motorists and highway users to express support by sounding the horms to protest against 100% toll rate increase

The DAP will hold protest demonstration at four toll gates at Kepong Interchange (KL), Sungei Besi toll plaza (Selangor) Seremban and Ayer Keroh (Malacca) simultaneously at 8.30 a.. on Thursday, 13.8.1987 to protest against the arbitrary and unjustifiable 100% increase in the highway toll rates. I call on all motorists and other highway users to give support to this protest demonstration by sounding their horn when approaching the toll plaza, when paying their toll and when leaving the toll plaza.

This will give to the Works Minister, Datuk Samy Vellu, and all Cabinet Ministers a clear and unambiguous message that the highway users are very angry at the 100% toll increase at this time of economic hardship.

The 100% increase in toll is all the more unacceptable because it is not the government which will benefit from it, but United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), which will take over all toll plazas and toll collections when the North South Highway privatization contract is signed between Datuk Samy Vellu and UEM.

The Malaysian Government and the Works Minister seemed to be working for the interest of UEM rather than for the interest of the people of Malaysia! Otherwise, why impose the 100% increase in toll rate when the North South Highway contract has not been signed with UEM, which will also hand over all toll collections to the company?

The toll rate is the most important elements in the North South Highway privatization contract. How can the government unilaterally give away an important bargaining point in the negotiations with UEM on the final terms of the North South Highway contract, by increasing the toll rate from 2.5 sen per km to 5 sen per km? This must be a most extraordinary manner for any Minister or government to negotiate privatisation contracts!

I cannot understand why the Works Minister is very keen to give UEM benefits which the company had not originally asked for. For instance, when UEM tendered for the NSH contract, it exempted motorists from having to pay toll on the NSH. But now, the government is imposing a 30 sen charge for motorcycles – which is a great bonus to UEM when it takes over the toll collections on signing of the contract.

All Ministers must realise that they are collectively responsible for the 100% toll increase and the great burden it would add to the people. I hope the Transport Minister, Datuk Dr. Ling Liong Sik, will speak up on behalf of the transport operators who would be hard hit by the 100% toll increase.

I have tried to reach Datuk Samy Vellu yesterday and today, but have not been successful. Yesterday I rang up his office in KL, and was told in my first call that he was returning from Ipoh, while in my second call, I was informed that he had left for Penang. This morning, I was told that Datuk Samy Vellu is sick, and that he had not come to his office since his return from overseas!

The Cabinet would be remiss in its duty if it allows the 100% toll increase to go ahead on Thursday, and also, if it allows the UEM contract for the North South Highway to be signed without satisfying the Malaysian public that their interests have been safeguard.

Datuk Samy Vellu and the Cabinet should expect nation-wide and prolonged demonstrations to express the people’s anger if the UEM contract is signed without public satisfaction that public interest had been given priority importance!

DAP Parliamentary Group on Chinese language, education and culture will contact the 15 Chinese National Organisation with our proposal of convening a National Conference on 20-Year Plan for Chinese Education

I have been asked whether the DAP will follow the example of MCA and Gerakan and have a meeting with the 15 National Chinese Organisations on the subject of Chinese education.

The DAP’s stand on Chinese education, and in particular on the right of Chinese primary schools to exist and flourish unhampered, is clear-out and well-known in our 21-year party history. In fact, we have two leaders who were detained for four years and nine months for their fearless defence of the right of Chinese education in Malaysia.

It is MCA and Gerakan which have to convince Malaysian Chinese of their sincerity in Chinese education issues, for the history of MCA and Gerakan on Chinese education is a record of saying one thing in public and doing the opposite in Parliament and the Cabinet. I do not think it is necessary for me to list out the examples of such MCA and Gerakan record.

As in the past, the DAP leadership is prepared to have dialogues and discussions with the 15 Chinese National Organisations, but we think such discussion should produce something more concrete and positive than the repetition of each other’s public stands.

The DAP Parliamentary Group on Chinese education, language and culture, which is headed by Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, and comprising Chian Heng Kai, Liew Ah Kim, Lau Dak Kee and Hu Sepang, will be contracting the 15 Chinese National Organisations for discussions on the DAP proposal that a National Conference on 20-year plan for Chinese education be convened.

This National Conference, which should be participated by political parties, Chinese organizations and associations, medium and long-term strategies to defend and promote Chinese education.

In the short term, priority must be given to the government’s breach of promise to repeal Section 21(2) of the 1961 Education Act and the present government proposal to amend the entire Education Act. The recent events which trample on the institutional rights of Chinese education, language and culture are not isolated incidents, but are part of a long-term ‘One Language, One Culture’ Policy.

I note that the Barisan Nasional Youth Supreme Council had a meeting yesterday, after which the Acting UMNO Youth Leader, Najib Tun Razaksaid that UMNO Youth, MCA Youth and Gerakan Youth have agreed not to refrain from touching on sensitive issues, especially on decision taken by the government.

This means that the government must be allowed to do ‘sensitive things’, like University of Malaya banning elective courses in non-Bahasa Malaysia languages; Malacca Education Department issuing directive on collective school prayer/pledge; Johore State Government ‘wiping out’ Chinese characters from Johore Seafood Carnival signboard; but there should be o ‘touching on these sensitive issues’!

Those responsible for these issues, which trample on the rights guaranteed in the constitution of the various racial and linguistic groups, should be punished to prevent recurrence. This is the background in which the short-term challenges to Chinese education, language and culture must have to be devised.

The medium-term strategy of the 20-Year Chinese Education Plan should work out a framework whereby Chinese primary schools can fulfill their role of providing a sound mother-tongue education to Malaysian Chinese, the healthy growth of Chinese Independent School schools, a complete system of mother-tongue education from primary and university level in the country, and where Pupil’s own Language classes in national schools is made compulsory.

The long-term strategy of the 20-year Chinese education plan will ensure that the constitutional guarantee to Chinese language in Article 152 is given full meaning in the entire nation-building process, so that all attempts to erode or discriminate against it will and completely.