Anwar should understand that no Malaysian is against development, which should be removed from partisan politics and be regarded as the fundamental right of every Malaysian regardless of his political affiliation

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at Federal Terri¬tory DAP ‘Party Reform’ Dinner held at Grand Continental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, on Sunday, 22nd March, 1992 at 9 pm.

Anwar should understand that no Malaysian is against development, which should be removed from partisan politics and be regarded as the fundamental right of every Malaysian regardless of his political affiliation.

The Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, yesterday criticised ‘certain politicians’ for ‘trying to instigate the people, particularly the Chinese to oppose development which was purportedly to benefit only one race’.

Anwar said the attitude was, “regrettable as it could scare away foreign investors and jeopardise the economic growth of the country”.

Speaking at the opening of the extension building of SRJK (C) Keow Kuang in Bukit Kechil, Bukit Mertajam, Anwar said that development was for the benefit of all the people and not any particu¬lar race.

Anwar Ibrahim must have been badly misinformed and misled by the MCA and Gerakan leaders, who must have told him that the Chinese in Malaysia do not support the MCA and Gerakan because they are against ‘development’.

Nothing can be more wrong. Let me tell Anwar Ibrahim that nobody in Malaysia is against development. In fact, ‘development’ should be removed from partisan politics and regarded as a fundamental right of every Malaysian regardless of race and political affiliation.

It is the Barisan Nasional politicians who have been guilty of denying the people their development rights, by blackmailing them that, unless they support the Barisan Nasional they will be discrimi-nated against as far as the government’s development programme is con¬cerned.

This is not only dishonest, unprincipled and undemocratic, but a violation of the fundamental rights
of every Malaysian to devel¬opment – especially as they have contributed as taxpayers to the country’s Treasury for the government to carry out development programmes.

Any government Minister or politician who discriminates against the people by withholding from them their development rights for whatever reason is abusing his power and committing a serious breach of trust.

It is such abuses of power and breaches of trust in such discrimination in government development programmes which are the real threat to political and economic stability in the country.

I am glad that Anwar Ibrahim is now concerned about economic stability and growth, and realised the importance not to ‘scare away’ foreign investors.

Anwar Ibrahim has reason to be concerned, for everybody is waiting to see how he fares in his first test
as Finance Minister with regard to his 1992 Budget estimate of 8.6 per cent real GDP growth for Malaysia in 1992.

It is noteworthy that the former Finance Minister, Tun Daim Zainuddin, has only recently stated
that Anwar Ibrahim’s estimate is ‘too optimistic’.

Storm clouds are gathering on the horizon for the Malaysian economy with the slowdown in the economies of the industrialised countries such as the US, the UK, Germany and Japan and even Singapore.

Japan announced on Tuesday that it would withdraw long-term foreign investments involving
long-term loans because of a shortage of capital at home. This will have major implications for Malaysia as Japan is Malaysia’s largest trading partner.

Under these conditions, it is even more imperative that the Government should not ‘rock the boat’
and be particularly sensitive to the anxieties and fears of both foreign and local investors to recent developments in the country which have undermined their confidence in the investment conditions in Malaysia.

DAP calls on Government to adopt enlightened arid liber¬al policies in five areas to restore foreign and local investment confidence.

In this connection, the DAP calls on the Finance Minister and the Government to adopt enlightened and liberal policies in five areas to restore foreign and local investment confidence. The Barisan Nasional Government should realise that with the expected drastic drop in foreign investments, the country must now depend on local investors to make up for the investment shortfall. This is why the following five areas should be given top government priority attention:

1. Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) new draft guidelines:

The FIC’s new draft guidelines are even worse than the New Economic Policy, which goes against the Government promise that the National Development Policy 1991-2000 will be more open and liberal.
The new FIC draft guidelines for instance want companies which have complied with the 30 per cent bumiputra stake to restore it to that level should there be subsequent dilution. The Government should immediately and publicly withdraw the FIC new draft guidelines.

2. Discrimination between Bumiputra hard-core poor and Non-Bumiputra hardcore poor.

Anwar Ibrahim should announce the extension of the $500 million revolving fund to give interest-free loans for investments to all the 142.000 hard-core poor households regardless of race.

If the Government even discriminates between bumiputra hard-core poor and non-bumiputra hardcore poor, how can anyone have confidence that it has the will to carry out enlightened and liberal policies under the National Development Policy?

3. The new Education Bill. There is widespread anxiety and apprehension in all quarters about the new Education Bill, and in particular, the refusal of the Government to make public the new Education Bill before it is presented to Parliament for debate and voting. The question uppermost in everybody’s minds is why the Gov¬ernment is not prepared to allow the public ample time to study the new Education Bill
if it has nothing to hide.

4. The Independence of the Judiciary. The latest escala¬tion of Bar-Government and Bar-Lord
President tensions have revived widespread concern about the erosion of the fundamental principle
of the Independence of the Judiciary in Malaysia. The Government should take positive steps to
assure both local and foreign investors about the Independence of the Judiciary, the Rule of Law and
the Independence Of Lawyers in Malaysia.

5. The freedom of the press. There has been an insidious campaign to undermine the freedom of the
press in the last years. The Government must realize that in an information era, attempts to deny the freedom and right to information can have adverse repercussions in investor confidence.