Continuation of Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill on Monday, June 18, 1990.
DAP proposes formation of an all-party Parliamentary Committee to defend retention of GSP privileges
From the speeches and events of the past few days, it is clear that the Barisan Nasional leaders are trying to play politics with the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) issue, wanting to use this issue to hit out at the DAP and Semangat 46.
During last Friday’s debate, DAP Deputy Secretary-General and MP for Bukit Bintang, Sdr. Lee Lam Thye, DAPSY National Chairman and MP for Kota Melaka, Sdr. Lim Guan Eng, and I myself had repeatedly declared the DAP’s stand on the GSP issue, that we want the United States Government to maintain the GSP privileges for Malaysia and are opposed to its removal.
However, the New Straits Times deliberately omitted the DAP’s policy declaration on the GSP issue in the Dewan Rakyat, so that a media campaign could be orchestrated to try to blame the DAP for the positions by four United States Labour organizations for the removal of the GSP privileges.
We in the DAP do not want to play party politics on the GSP issue and we would like to advise the Barisan Nasional leaders to rise above party politics on this issue.
On a matter which concerns the national interest, the DAP is prepared to stand with the Government, whether locally or internationally. As the retention of the GSP privileges would be beneficial to the country, the DAP is prepared to stand with the Government to urge the United States Government to maintain the GSP privileges.
I suggest the formation of all-party Parliamentary Committee to defend the retention of the GSP privileges, and the DAP will play a full and active role in it.
Best case against GSP petitions is to get the Harris management to respect the right of its workers to be organised
We must not be emotional or hysterical over the GSP issue – although I discern that recently, there seems to be a tendency for Barisan Nasional Ministers and leaders to become quite emotional and hysterical, like the Education Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, whenever he is asked about the Education Bill 1990.
We must objectively and seriously consider the grounds for the three petitions by the American Federation of Labour-Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO), the International Labour Rights Educations and Research Fund (ILRERF) and the International Brotherhood if Electrical Workers.
These three petitions basically revolve around allegations of violations of workers’ rights in Malaysia, especially the right of workers to organize.
The GSP itself stipulates conditions on workers’ rights, and if Malaysia had breached these conditions, then it is for the government to take the necessary action to comply with these GSP guidelines.
There is no doubt that the main complaint of the three petitions for the removal of the GSP privileges for Malaysia is the violation of the rights of workers to organize, in particular the electronic workers.
The government lifted its 20-year ban on the unionization of the 85,000 electronics workers in September 1988 when petitions were submitted for the first time in 1988 to withdraw GSP privileges for Malaysia.
A month later, however, the Cabinet announced that electronics workers were not allowed to form national unions, but only in-house unions.
The 20-month history of the first in-house union in the electronics industry, the RCA Workers’ Union, has shown however that even if workers organize themselves in accordance with the Government guidelines, their rights could be blatantly violated.
After the RCA Workers’ Union was formed in January 1989, union activities were disrupted and union members harassed. In its first bid to avoid recognizing the union, RCA changed its name to Harris Solid State (M) Sdn. Bhd. – and the union was forced to seek a mandate from at least two-thirds of its members to change the name to Harris Solid State Workers’ Union (HSSWU)
When in April this year, the Ministry directed the Harris Solid State to accord recognition to HSSWU, the 2,500 workers in Harris Solid State were forced into joining another company, Harris Advanced Technology Sdn. Bhd. (HAT) to further frustrate the recognition for the first and sole in-house union in the electronics industry. The Harris Solid State was left with 24 workers, all union members including who are executive council members.
The Harris Solid State case will be the strongest proof of the violation of the rights of workers in electronics industry to organize, although the government has lifted the banon unionization of electronic workers for in-house unions.
If Malaysia is to present a strong and powerful case for the retention of the GSP privileges, then the workers in Harris Advanced Technology, who had been harassed and transferred from RCA and then Harris Solid State, must be able to organize themselves into a union under the leadership of the HSSWU officials. What the government should do is to get the Harris management to respect the right of its workers to be organised. Furthermore, we must be able to establish that we comply with the GSP requirements guaranteeing workers the right to organize in Malaysia.
I regret that during the debate last Friday, there were calls by some UMNO Baru MPs for strong action to be taken by the government against a few MTUC leaders, like V. David, Zainal Rampak and Ahmad Nor.
If the Government is so foolish as to detain the MTUC leaders under the Internal Security Act, then such actions would have further strengthened the petitions for the removal of GSP privileges, apart from the fact that it would be a gross abuse of powers and blatant violation of human rights.
I find it very sad that in this House, there are so many MPs who can only think of demanding use of ISA to silence government critics, and who blindly accept any ISA detention by the Government.
There was no voice f concern in this House by these UMNO Baru MPs, for instance, for the recent detention under ISA of three Sabahans, namely, the Kadazan-Dusun Cultural Association executive secretary, Benedict Topin, ex-police detective Damit Undikai and ex-policeman Albinus Yudah or demands that they be charged in open court or they should be immediately released. Instead there were calls for more ISA detentions. It is a shame for Parliament that there are Members of Parliament who have such disregard for human rights in Malaysia.