How can the Vision 2020 succeed in achieving a united and fully developed Malaysia in 30 years’ time if the views and aspirations of 48 per cent of Malaysians do not count?

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary¬ General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the 1992 Budget on Monday, 4th November 1991

How can the Vision 2020 succeed in achieving a united and fully developed Malaysia in 30 years’ time if the views and aspirations of 48 per cent of Malaysians do not count?

The Finance Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, began his maiden budget last Friday declaring that it was the first Vision 2020 budget when he said: “The 1992 Budget has been formulated to take into account the strategic challenges that we face and our aspirations and Commitments contained in Vision 2020”.

“Belanjawan 1992 dirangka bagi menghadapi cabaran-cabaran strategik dan menterjemahkan hasrat dan cita-cita yang terkandung dalam Wawasan 2020.”

Vision 2020 of Malaysia as a fully developed nation in 30 years’ time was never presented and adopted by Parliament, but was presented by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, in a working paper to the Malaysian Business Council in February this year¬.

I was very surprised when the Finance Minister took a very partisan line on Vision 2020 in the course of his budget speech.

Although Anwar said that Vision 2020 “is not merely an economic and political concept, but it is a concept which strives for comprehensive nation building, that will enhance our resilience to face the future”, (Wawasan ini bukan cuma konsep untuk mengarahkan pembangunan ekonomi dan arah politik tetapi satu konsep yang mencakup pcmbinaan insan secara total supaya ia dapat membina ketahanan daya hidupnya untuk menghadapi kemungkinan masa hadapan) he launched into a fierce attack on the Opposition.

The question we should all ponder is how the Vision 2020 can succeed in achieving a united and fully developed Malaysia if the views and aspirations of 48 per cent of the electorate who did not vote for the Barisan Nasional in the last year’s general elections do not count at all!

In his budget presentation, Anwar claimed that the Barisan Nasional government, after receiving the support of only 52 per cent of the national electorate in the last general elections, was now getting more support from the people.

He said: ‘”It is evident that the support of the rakyat for the government is growing. For this reason, we are grateful to the people of Sarawak who have given full support to the Barisan Nasional and have shattered the dream of the opposition which attempted to wrest power by means of racial and parochial politics.”

“Malah nampaknya kita semakin hari sernakin mendapat sokon¬gan itu. Oleh kerana itu kita sangat-sangat berterima kasih kepada semua rakyat Sarawak yang telah memberikan sokongan padu kepada Barisan Nasional. Mereka telah menghancurkan impian pembangkang untuk berkuasa melalui politik perkauman dan kedaerahan,”

Who was Anwar referring to when he talked about those in the Opposition in Sarawak which “attempted to wrest power by means of racial and parochial politics” in the recent Sarawak state general elections.

There was only one Opposition party in the recent Sarawak general elections which sought to topple the Sarawak Barisan Nasional Tiga and to capture power – and this was the Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS).

Was Anwar condemning PBDS, whose leader Datuk Leo Moggie, the Minister for Works, was sitting two seats away from him during the Budget presentation, for “racial and parochial politics”?

Anwar cannot possibly be referring to the DAP for although we contested in the Sarawak general elections, we never sought to go far Sarawak State power.

If PBDS was the target of his attack, then let me tell Anwar, even if Leo Maggie dare not tell him, that he was doing a great injustice to the legitimate aspirations of the Dayaks in Sarawak to be in the political, educational and socio-economic mainstream in Sara¬wak, and so long as such legitimate aspirations of the Dayaks or any other community are regarded as “racial and parochial politics”, no Vision 2020 will succeed in achieving racial and territorial integra¬tion in Malaysia.
In fact, it is the Finance Minister who is guilty of show¬ing ‘racial and parochial’ attitudes on the important issue of nation building, and if this is the basis of the Vision 2020 of the Barisan Nasional Government, Malaysia will be even more divided and disunited in the decades to come.

In fact, such ‘racial and parochial’ attitudes will ensure the failure of Vision 2020 0f Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation in 30 year’ time.

Dr. Mahathir had himself admitted in his Working Paper that there could be no fully developed Malaysia until Malaysians had final¬ly overcome nine central strategic challenges that have confronted them from the birth of the nation – and the first of these is the “challenge of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny. This must be a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up of one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation.”

Although Anwar Ibrahim declared that his maiden budget is the first Barisan Nasional budget to achieve Vision 2020, it does not have the Spirit of Vision 2020 to vanquish the strategic challenges without which such a Vision has no substance but a mere empty slogan.

Before the Dewan Rakyat is presented with more Vision 2020 Budgets in the coming years, Parliament must debate the Vision 2020 with greater depth.

The Vision 2020 postulates Malaysia catching up with the 19 developed countries in 30 years’ time, and that our GDP will be eight times larger by the year 2020 when compared to 1990, and that Malaysians will be four times richer than they were in 1990.

Why hadn’t Malaysia become a ‘little dragon’ by today?

Before we decide on this Vision 2020, shouldn’t Malaysians debate and ponder why Malaysia had not become a fully developed nation and a ‘little dragon’ by today, like South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore when Malaysia was No. 2 in Asia after Japan in terms of prosperity and income when we achieved independence in 1957?

Last month, the South Korean Minister of Government Admin¬istration, Lee Yun-taek said he was confident that Malaysia could achieve it goal to become an industrialised nation by the year 2020. He said that South Korea had little human resources and no natural resources when it launched its economic development programme in the early 1960s, yet it was able to achieve the status of an industria¬lised nation in 30 years.

I do not know whether Malaysians should feel proud of such South Korean confidence in us, or be very ashamed about it. This is because Malaysia, with undeniably greater human and natural resources than South Korea, had a bigger Gross Domestic Product and a higher per capita GNP than South Korea 25 years ago. But today, South Korea has a GDP which is more than five times larger and a per capita GNP which is about two-and-a-half times higher than ours.

What went wrong? It has been rightly said that those who do not want to learn from the mistakes of history are condemned to repeat them.

It is salutary to compare Malaysia’s performance with the four little ‘dragons’ from the following statistics:

Per Capita GNP (US $)

1967 1991 No. Times Increase 1967-91
Malaysia 290 2,305 8 times
South Korea 160 5,589 35 times
Taiwan 250 7,990 32 times
Singapore 600 11,575 19.3 times
Hong Kong 620 12,069 19.5 times

Malaysia has even lagged behind Thailand in terms of increase of per capita GNP growth from 1967-1991, as Thailand registered a eleven-fold increase from US130 to US$1,418, compared to Malaysia’s eight-fold increase in this period.

Another set of statistics showing in better perspective Malaysia’s economic performance as compared to the NICs and ASEAN countries can be culled from the World Development Report 1991.

Growth Performance 1965-1989
GDP GDP Growth GDP Growth Rate
$US million No. times Per Cent Per Cent
1965 1989 1965- 80 1980-89
Malaysia 3130 37,480 12 7.4 4.9
Philippines 6010 44,350 7.4 5.9 0.7
Thailand 4390 69,680 15.8 7.3 7. 0
Indonesia 3840 93,970 24.5 7.0 5.3
Singapore 970 28,360 29.2 10.0 6.1
Korea 3000 211,880 70.6 9.9 9.7
Hong Kong 2150 52,540 24.4 8.6 7. 1
(Source, World Development Report 1991)

In the 24 years from 1965 to 1989, Malaysia’s GDP increased 12 times, better only than the Philippines which increased 7.4 times, while trailing behind Thailand which increased 15.8 times, Indonesia by 24.5 times, Singapore by 29.2 times, Hong Kong by 24.4 times and South Korea, starting with a smaller GDP than Malaysia, increased by 70.6 times.

We must recognise that one important reason why we have not been able to maximise our resources and missed the boat to become a fully developed country today is because of our short-sighted policy in the past two decades on human resources, which persist today with the attitude of ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ to the problem of continued brain-drain of Malaysian talents, skills, creativity and capital overseas.

The Malaysian Government is asking a South Korean economist to head a team to revise its Industrial Master Plan (IMP) to cover the first decade of the Vision 2020 to make Malaysia a fully developed nation.

But is the Malaysian Government prepared to learn from the South Korean experience in her road to industrialisation?

One lesson from the South Korean experience is the critical importance of science and technology to the industrialisation process, and the Koreans even went to great lengths to attract back its own expatriate engineers, scientists and researchers who had emigrated overseas and taken up citizenship in the United States and other countries.

But in Malaysia, the government’s attitude is still one of ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ to Malaysians who have emigrated abroad.

Does Anwar and the UMNO Ministers believe in a ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ as an ideal Malaysian who regards himself as Malaysian first and his race second?

I had mentioned just now that Dr. Mahathir said in his Working Paper that there could be no fully developed Malaysia until Malaysians had finally overcome nine central strategic challenges, the first of which is the “challenge of establishing a united Malaysian nation with a sense of common and shared destiny” resulting in “a nation at peace with itself, territorially and ethnically integrated, living in harmony and full and fair partnership, made up o£ one ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ with political loyalty and dedication to the nation.”

This led to some excited discussion as to whether the government was at last recognising and conceding that the ideal Malaysian we want to create through our nation-building process is not a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban or Kadazan, but a Malaysian or Bangsa Malaysia who would regard himself as a Malaysian first and his race second.

When Anwar Ibrahim opened his 1992 Budget presentation dedicating it to Vision 2020, and said the Budget was aimed to build a ‘Bangsa Malaysia yang berdaya maju’, he gave the impression that this was indeed a serious commitment to create a Bangsa Malaysia – a people who regards himself first as a Malaysian and his racial identification as second.

However, when I read his English text, I found that he was not talking about the ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ referred to by Dr. Mahathir in his first strategic challenge for Vision 2020 at all.

In his Bahasa Malaysia speech, Anwar said: “Pertimbangan sewajarnya harus diberikan terhadap isu-isu ekonomi semasa dan persoa¬lan struktural untuk mengukukkan asas Ekonomi dalam jangka masa seder¬hana, dan seterusnya membina ketahanan ekonomi bagi melahirkan bangsa Malaysia yang berdaya maju.”

But this is what Anwar said in English: “The Budget has also taken into consideration the current economic issues in order to strengthen the economy in the medium term and to enhance national economic resilience so that we can build a progressive nation.”

This is a most extraordinary translation of ‘bangsa Malay¬sia’ after it had been elevated to a special place by Vision 2020!

To Anwar Ibrahim, who seems to be the heir-apparent to the office of Prime Minister, the term ‘bangsa Malaysia’ in the Vision 2020 has absolutely no meaning at all. It did not even mean ‘Malaysian nation’ but just ‘nation’. Why then didn’t Anwar use the word ‘negara’? Anwar is known far his great care in his choice of words, whether Bahasa Malaysia or English.

When didn’t he use the word ‘negara’ if he had wanted to refer to ‘nation’?

Was Anwar trying to achieve two objectives one at the same time: to evoke the meaning of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ as used in the Vision Malaysia to same, and to others, to make it clear that ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ meant nothing to him at all, and that he was only referring to ‘nation’!

This raises the question whether Anwar Ibrahim and the UMNO leaders really believe in the concept of a ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ as the ideal Malaysian, who regards himself as Malaysian first and his race as second.

One must be excused for being skeptical that UMNO leaders can really believe in the concept of a ‘Bangsa Malaysia’, who subordi¬nate his ethnic affinities to the Malaysian national identity, for this goes against the very raison d’etre of UMNO as a party exclusive-ly for the Malays.

Furthermore, who cannot be skeptical about the Vision 2020 of a united Bangsa Malaysia with a sense of common and shared destiny, when only four months before the presentation of the Working Paper by Dr. Mahathir, the UMNO leaders had resorted to the most unprincipled and unscrupulous politics in the general elections to incite raw emotions of race and religion by using the electronic media to panic and stampede the Malay voters to vote for UMNO on the ground that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah had sold out the Malay race and betrayed the Islamic religion – with the Kadazan tengkolok as the so-called proof?

Last week, when DAP MPs asked questions about government allocations to the new villagers, the Deputy Housing and Local Govern¬ment, Datuk Daud Taha, accused the DAP of being ‘communalistic’ for being concerned only about Chinese issues.

It is very sad that the MCA Minister for Housing and Local Government, Dr. Ting Chew Peh, should allow his Deputy Minister to make such a wild and unfounded allegation when answering questions in Parliament on his behalf.

It shows that certain UMNO leaders are becoming more and more communal, refusing to accept that problems faced by Malaysians, whether Chinese, Malays, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, are all Malaysian problems which deserve full and fair attention of the government.

Is this further proof that to UMNO leaders the concept of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ in Vision 2020 is just empty rhetoric?

If we are sincere in wanting to have a Bangsa Malaysia by 2020, and not separate bangsa Melayu, bangsa Cina, bangsa India, bangsa Iban and bangsa Kadazan, the government must give meaning to this concept right now in all aspects of government policy and actions – starting with the 1992 Budget where ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ does not mean nation, but a new Malaysian who subordinates his racial identity to his Malaysian identity.

Is the Government, for instance, prepared to amend the Malaysian Constitution to give this term ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ constitu¬tional definition and existence as defining the patriotic Malaysian citizen which is the goal of Vision 2020?

How can Vision 2020 be credible when the Government is taking actions which goes further and further from both the Vision and the nine strategic challenges?

It is meaningless to talk about a Vision of Malaysia being a fully developed nation in the Year 2020, and the nine strategic challenges that must be overcome, while in the meanwhile, the govern¬ment and nation goes further and further from both the Vision or the nine strategic goals, whether it be to create a Bangsa Malaysia, foster a democratic society, create a psychologically liberated, secure and developed Malaysian society, establish “a fully moral and ethical society”, “a matured liberal and tolerant society”, “a scien¬tific and progressive society”, “a fully caring society”, “an economi¬cally just society” or “a prosperous society”.

For instance, Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a “mature democratic society practising a form of mature consensual, community¬-oriented Malaysian democracy that can be a model for many developing countries” cannot have any meaning when the Government has not only armed itself with the most undemocratic and repressive laws and powers since nationhood in 1957, but is beginning to trample on human rights and democratic freedoms which had hitherto been respected in Malaysia.

The latest example is the action taken by the Barisan Nasional Government to ban Opposition parties from producing, publish¬ing and circulating their political journals to the Malaysian public in their attempt to break the Barisan Nasional media monopoly and press control.

For 25 years, the DAP had been publishing the Rocket in four languages, Bahasa Malaysia, English, Chinese and Tamil, for sale and distribution to the public. Now, the Government which talks about a ‘mature democracy’ in Vision 2020 wants to ban the Rocket from the Malaysian people, confining it only to DAP members, in utter disregard and violation of the fundamental liberties en5hrincd in the Malaysian Constitution with regard to freedom of speech and expression.

Is the Vision 2020 the justification for more undemo¬cratic actions and more violations of human rights in Malaysia?

When I met the Prime Minister before the last general elections, Dr. Mahathir had reiterated that there is press freedom in Malaysia and even responded to my query that he was prepared to issue a KDN for the DAP to publish a national daily.

But when the DAP took up the offer and submitted an appli¬cation for a national daily, there was no response from the Ministry of Home Affairs until after the general elections, when we were in-formed that Dr. Mahathir would approve a KDN for the DAP to publish a national daily, provided it was confined to DAP members!

Would Utusan Malaysia, Utusan Melayu, New Straits Times and the Star want to publish daily newspapers if their circulation were confined to their shareholders only?

More and more Malaysians are asking whether the Vision 2020 of Malaysia as a mature democracy in 30 years’ time is being used as a justification for more undemocratic actions and more violations of human rights in Malaysia – like the continued detention of six Saba¬hans, including Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan under the Internal Security Act, for alleged plot to take Sabah out of Malaysia although the government has not been able to produce one iota of evidence or issue a White Paper on it.

Dr. Mahathir has become a spokesman on the subject of human rights, democracy and good government for the developing world, with his thesis that violations of democracy and human rights is an inter¬nal affair which no other country has the right to interfere.

Is this another indication of that there would be a more repressive, authoritarian and undemocratic regime in Malaysia after the proclamation of the Vision 2020?

When Dr. Mahathir returned from the Harare CHOGM, he ac¬cused the Bar Council of spreading lies abroad about the 1988 Crisis of the Judiciary and indirectly sabotaging the economy of the country since some foreign investors had lost confidence in Malaysia.

Proposal that the government invite the international Commission of Jurists to make a study and make propos¬als to restore national and international confidence in the Independence of Judiciary

However Dr. Mahathir might explain it, he could not run away from the fact that the principle of the Independence of the Judiciary in Malaysia suffered a grievious blow as a result of the Judiciary crisis, whether internally or internationally, for which he must bear the fullest responsibility.

The question is whether the government recognises the need and urgency to restore confidence in the principle of the Independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. Is the government prepared, for example, to invite the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) to make a study and make recommendations for the restoration of national and international confidence in the Independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law in Malaysia since he has so little confidence in the Malaysian Bar Council?

I have so far focussed on Vision 2020 as it is going to be used as the underlying vision of 1992 and subsequent budgets and all other government policies and programmes – and it is important that Malaysians should not only have a clear understanding of what the Vision 2020 stands far, but of the human rights violations, undemo¬cratic actions, socio-economic injustices and malpractices which would be justified under the Vision 2020¬.

My other DAP colleagues will he speaking more specifically on the 1992 Budget, and I will confine myself to several observations.

Inflation: DAP calls far modification of service for legal firms and private hospitals so that only well-off are affected

Inflation is the greatest worry for the common man in Malay¬sia today, as prices of every item seems to be increasing in a vicious spiral.

The Public Enteprises Minister, Datuk Yusuf Nor, announced a few days ago that he would propose the Cabinet to increase bus fares from January and there was also announcement that telephone rentals will also be increased¬

What the long-suffering bus commuters need is a better bus service and not increased fares. Before the government approves bus fares increase, it must overhaul the entire public transport system to ensure a more efficient and economical bus service instead of the law of the jungle which prevail in the bus services today throughout the country.

The Government must keep a close watch on prices, with the 4.5 per cent inflation rate increasing to 5 per cent next year.

I will urge the Finance Minister to modify the proposed extension of service tax to legal firms and private hospitals to ensure that only the well-off are affected.

It is a fallacy that the average Malaysian, who are already burdened with inflation, do not make use Of the services of legal firms and private hospitals.

Because of the unsatisfactory services of government hospi¬tals, many Malaysians of average income make use of private hospitals and bear enormous financial burdens as a result.

It would be most unfair if an added financial burden is imposed on this category of Malaysians who would have passed on to them the service tax now imposed on legal firms and private hospitals having an annual turnover of $300,000 and above.

Call for a National Housing Authority to be responsible for the building of low-cost houses for the poor

DAP welcomes the reintroduction of guidelines for financial institutions to give housing loans in respect of housing costing less than $100,000 and maintaining the fixed interest rate of 9 per cent as well as other measures like reduction of stamp duty on transfer in¬struments on low-cost houses to help the low-income acquire a roof over their head.

It must be recognised however that the previous existence of the guidelines about housing loans for low-cost housing had not been able to solve the problem of housing the homeless, and its reintroduction will not solve it now, especially as even the present definition of low-cost housing is beyond the means of the poor.

The housing for the homeless is the greatest failure of the government in the past two decades, as illustrated by the vast backlog of the homeless poor and by the failure of the Special Low¬-Cost Housing Programme (Program Khas Perumahan Kos Rendah).

As the 1991/92 Economic Report pointed out: “The overall performance of the Special Low-Cost Housing Programme (SLCHP) inclu¬sive of both the private and public sector projects, has not made much headway since its inception in 1986. As of December 1990 a total of 83,940 houses under the programme has been completed while another 150,150 units were under various stages of construction. This would mean that the total number of houses that could be delivered by the end of 1991 would still fall short by about 33 per cent of the target¬ted 348,000 units that were approved for construction under the SLCHP. The SLCHP was scheduled for completion in June 1989, but the programme has to be extended for another 2 or 3 years to enable scheduled projects to be completed.” (Bahasa p. 104)

What is needed is a National Housing Authority combining both public and private resources with the political will to overcome the vast backlog of housing for the homeless.

Where is the full-fledged Sarawak University promised during the Sarawak state general elections

Although the Finance Minister anticipated increasing demand for better education facilities in his budget speech, I want to ask where is the full-fledged Sarawak University promised the people of Sarawak during the Sarawak state general elections?

There is no provision whatsoever for the new Sarawak Uni¬versity in the Budget. The people of Sarawak are clearly entitled to a full explanation¬.

What has happened to Anwar’s war against insider-trading?

In his Budget speech, Anwar Ibrahim declared that he would not compromise with corruption and malpractices.

The country would want to know what has happened to his ‘war’ against insider trading, and the report on insider trading which he said in July might be tabled in Cabinet.

In June, Anwar led Malaysians to expect a major crackdown on insider trading, with the arrest and prosecution of prominent corporate and political figures – to the extent that he was prepared to confront the Cabinet with a full and detailed report about the insider trading investigations.

The press even reported the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Megat Junid Megat Ayub, confirming that former Bank Bumiputera Chair¬man, Tan Sri Bashir Ismail, Renong Bhd. executive chairman Halim Saad and lawyer Zaid Ibrahim had been questioned by the police in connec¬tion with insider trading, though he subsequently issued a denial.

However, at the end o£ August, Dr. Mahathir publicly de¬clared a bill of health for the securities industry in Malaysia when he announced that the government had found no evidence of insider trading in the Kuala Lumpur stock market.

But in Bangkok last month, Anwar said that there was need for more openness in the investigations of securities scandal in Malaysia to ensure that it would not lead to a huge scandal. He said investigations into offences in the securities industry in Malaysia were still going on, although some cases had been closed. He also said that he expected someone very ‘important’ to be caught, but only after going through the facts and data collected.

In the past four months, no one had been arrested for ‘insider trading’ although one person had been charged with ‘illegal trading’ of shares.

People had asked whether Anwar had confused ‘insider trading’ with ‘illegal trading’, and in view of his reiteration in the 1992 budget that he would not compromise with corruption or malprac¬tices, he should give Parliament a full report of his on-off saga in his ‘war’ against insider trading in Malaysia.