Malaysia Crisis of Identity

Book: Malaysia Crisis of Identity
by Lim Kit Siang
First Edition: April 1986

Malaysia Crisis of Identity: Foreword

  1. One Language, One Culture (11 October 1982)
  2. Ten Basis for National Unity (November 9, 1982)
  3. Religious freedom Under Threat (9th December 1982)
  4. Religious Polarisation (March 13, 1984)
  5. Task Force III for Illegal Indonesian Immigrants (November 26, 1984)
  6. 1985 Declaration of Chinese Guilds & Associations (October 28, 1985)


  1. The Wayang Kulit Debate (August 2, 1983)
  2. Official Secrets Bill (October 19, 1983)
  3. Signboards and Advertisements (November 14, 1983)
  4. The 1984 Constitution Amendment Bill (January 9, 1984)
  5. Press Freedom in Malaysia (March 27, 1984)
  6. Use of Mother-Tongue Language in school Functions (November 19, 1984 )
  7. 1984 Delineation of Electoral Constituencies (December 6, 1984)
  8. Parliamentary Democracy & Its Abuses (March 26, 1985)
  9. 25 Years of Democracy in Malaysia (July 15, 1985)
  10. EPMI vs Lim Kit Siang (July 16, 1985)
  11. Democracy in Malaysia = Tyranny of the Majority (July 16, 1985)
  12. Sabah Crisis – A Test of Democracy (November 13, 1985)
  13. Legalisation of Unlawful Actions (December 6, 1985)
  14. The 1986 Sabah Crisis (March 24, 1986)


  1. Corruption in Sabah (October 25, 1982)
  2. Then Teik Estate – Police Killing (November 24, 1982)
  3. Audit and Accountability (March 14, 1983)
  4. The BMF Scandal – Bank Negara’s Role (October 10, 1983)
  5. BMF Scandal – ‘Let the chips fall where they should’ (October 24, 1983)
  6. BMF Scandal: The Seremban Declaration (November 22, 1983)
  7. The 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (October 9, 1984)
  8. Call for a Royal commission of Inquiry into the BMF Scandal (October 18, 1984)
  9. Daim’s Maiden Budget (October 24, 1984)
  10. BMF Scandal – Malaysia’s Watergate? (November 20, 1984)
  11. BMF Scandal – Token Prosecutions and Punishment (December 3, 1984)
  12. Unlicensed Finance Companies (October 24, 1985)
  13. BMF – Call for Special Debate (November 22, 1985)


  1. The Plight of Trawler Fishermen (November 16, 1982)
  2. Felda – NEP’s most conspicuous failure (December 1, 1982)
  3. Land Acquisition and NEP guarantee (November 29, 1983)
  4. Triple Failures of NEP (April 2, 1984)
  5. NEP Injustices and Inequalities (July 15, 1985)
  6. MAS Shares & NEP (October 24, 1985)


  1. PAC and the BMF Scandal (July 25, 1983)
  2. Cuckoo’s Land in parliament (November 9, 1983
  3. Fung Ket Wing vs Harris Salleh – Labuan )
  4. Fung Ket Wing’s Suspension (July 23, 1984)
  5. Barisan Yes-Men in Parliament (October 8, 1984)
  6. Karpal Singh’s Suspension from Parliament (November 22, 1984)
  7. Voices of the Dead in Parliament (October 21, 1985)


  1. The Sixth University (November 19, 1982)
  2. Pusat Serenti Tampin – Reign of Terror(November 30, 1982)
  3. Perak Hydro Workers (December 6, 1982)
  4. Private Universities (December 8, 1982)
  5. Kenyir Hydro- Electric Dam – Korean Exploitation of Malaysian Workers (November 28, 1983)
  6. Kampong Bercham – Police Brutality against Squatters (October 11, 1984)
  7. Pusat Serenti Tampin – Hell on Earth (October 17, 1984)
  8. Retrenchment of Workers and the Labour Minister (November 29, 1985)

Malaysia Crisis of Identity: Foreword

Democracy, Sabah, and the Malaysian parliament

In April 1985, the Government belatedly and very formalistically, celebrated the Silver Jubilee of the Malaysian Parliament. There was no attempt to assess and evaluate the record of the last 25 years of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia, to ascertain whether there is more to lament than to celebrate.

There are people, especially those in power, whose concept and proof of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia is the imposing Parliament House, the regular holding of general elections and the existence of Members of Parliament. To them, these are evidence enough of the functioning of parliamentary democracy in Malaysia. Continue reading Malaysia Crisis of Identity: Foreword

DAP calls for the withdrawal of the Printing Presses and Publication Bill from second reading to enable a nation-wide debate to be held first

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP SEA Park Branch Anniversary Dinner held at Chan Kee Restaurant, Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 22.3.1984 at 8 p.m.

DAP calls for the withdrawal of the Printing Presses and Publication Bill from second reading to enable a nation-wide debate to be held first

The Printing Presses and Publications Bill 1984, which is expected to be tabled for second reading and passage by the Dewan Rakyat next week, will arm the Government with even greater authoritarian powers to restrict freedom of speech, expression and the press.

It is not just a consolidation of the Printing Presses Act 1948 and the Control of Imported Publications Act 1958, for it went very much further than these two pieces of legislation in giving the government new powers to control, regulate and manipulate information, ideas and opinions.

The Printing Presses and Publications Bill 1984 is in fact the most important legislative proposal in the current Parliamentary meeting, for it goes to the very root of defining the very type of society we want to have: an open, liberal and democratic society or a closed, restrictive and authoritarian one.

For this reason, the government must allow the fullest and freest national debate on the Printing Presses and Publications Bill 1984 before it is debated and decided by Parliament, so as to give Members of Parliament an opportunity to get a national feedback on the Bill first.

The Printing Presses and Publications Bill has taken recent political tendencies to centralise ever greater power in the hands of the Executive at the expense of both Parliament and the Judiciary to a even higher level.

Thus, under the proposed Section 7, the Minister would have virtually untrammelled powers, which could not be checked at all, to decide on whether any publication, local or imported, should be banned on the vague ground of ‘public interest or national interest’ – which could had often been equated with party interest or the interest of individ top personalities in the government.

Again, Section 24 barred legal proceedings for any loss or damage for any seizure, detention or confiscation under the Act.

The Bill not only perpetuated the provision which required annual licensing of newspapers, the most effective weapon to keep the newspapers in line, but to allow the Minister to give licences for periods shorter than one year, as is provided in the proposed section 12.

The Printing Presses and Publications 1984 is a complete contradiction of the 2M government’s pledge for an open, liberal and tolerant society. I call on the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Musa Hitam, not to use its majority in Parliament to ram through the Bill, but to allow a free and full national debate on it first.

When will MPs get Mid-Term Review Report

The Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, is to present a motion in Parliament asking for the adoption of the Mid-Term Review Report on the Fourth Malaysia Plan on Thursday, 29th March 1984. But up till now, the MPs have no indication when they would get a copy of the report. The government had to use the entire government resources and over a year to prepare the report, the and as a minimum, MPs should be given a week to study the Report before debate in Parliament. If Parliament is regarded merely as a rubber-stamp chamber to give approval to whatever is brought before the House, then there would be no need for MPs to study the Mid-Term Review Report or any Bill. I call on the government to give MPs ample time to study the Mid-Term Review Report before debate.

Malaysia in the dangerous 80s

Book: Malaysia in the dangerous 80s
by Lim Kit Siang
First Edition: April 1982

Malaysia in the dangerous 80s: Prologue (27 March 1982)


  1. Racial Polarization (9 March, 1982)
  2. Racial Polarization (13 October 13, 1978)
  3. Dap ‘Obstacle To National Unity’? (29 March, 1979)
  4. A Decade Of Unity And Reconciliation (18 March, 1980)
  5. The Meaning Of Malaysian Nationality (22 March, 1979)
  6. The Fourth Malaysian Plan (30 March, 1981)


  1. Removal of security of tenure of government servants (8 December, 1978 )
  2. Dictatorship by state of permanent emergency (17 January, 1979)
  3. The four proclamation of emergency (28 June, 1979)
  4. Abdication of parliamentary responsibility (29 June, 1979)
  5. The final usurpation of powers (10 April, 1981)
  6. Societies amendment bill (8 April, 1981)
  7. Voting rights for the young (16 October, 1978)
  8. Conditions of detention (3 April, 1979)


  1. On A Clean, Honest And Incorrupt Government (18 October, 1977)
  2. Freedom Of Information (26 October, 1979)
  3. The Undemocratic Ban (23 October, 1978)
  4. The Puchong Mine Landslide (26 March, 1981)
  5. Cult Of Government Secrecy (9 April, 1981)


  1. Fundamental NEP Defects (22 October, 1979)
  2. Role Of A Budget (22 October, 1980)
  3. State Revenue Growth Gains (11 October, 1979)
  4. The Bank Rakyat Betrayal (1) (24 June, 1979)
  5. The Bank Rakyat Betrayal (2) (26 June, 1979)
  6. Domestic Investment Shortfalls (21 June, 1979)
  7. Lop-Sided Pay Increase For Public Servants (12 June, 1980)
  8. State Advance Fund (16 October, 1981)
  9. Sugar-Coated Election Budget (27 October, 1981)
  10. Bintulu-Isation Of NEP (18 March, 1982)


  1. Parliamentary Reforms (17 june, 1980)
  2. 100% Increase Of Parliamentary Allowance (18 June, 1980)
  3. Call For Cuts In Minister’s Allowances (4 December, 1981)
  4. Parliamentary Standing Orders (30 October, 1981)
  5. A Biased Report Of Committee Of Privileges (29 September, 1981)


  1. The Mahathir Report On Education (1) (9 June, 1980)
  2. The Mahathir Report On Education (2) (10 June, 1980)
  3. Private Universities And Colleges (10 October, 1978)
  4. On Chinese And Tamil Primary Schools (20 June, 1980)
  5. Medical Places For Non-Malay Students (8 June, 1981)
  6. Royal Commission Of Inquiry Into Health Services (17 June, 1980)
  7. Restoration Of Workers’s Political Rights (11 June, 1979)
  8. Security Of Work (13 June, 1979)
  9. Employment (Amendment) Ordinance (20 June, 1980)
  10. Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 1981 (4 April, 1980)
  11. MAS-AEU Industrial Confrontation (20 March, 1979)

Malaysia in the dangerous 80s: Prologue

This collection of parliamentary speeches, including one made in the Malacca State Assembly, from October 1978 to March 1982 is a record of the political developments in the country during the last four years.

Its publication is aimed at informing Malaysians of what the DAP had been saying and fighting for in Parliament, as the ‘free and democratic’ press in Malaysia had consistently blacked out DAP speeches in Parliament.

Since 1978, the nebulous ‘press freedom’ in Malaysia had come under a serious onslaught from a new direction, with more and more local newspapers falling under the ownership and control of one or other of the Barisan Nasional component parties. Continue reading Malaysia in the dangerous 80s: Prologue

Parliamentary Standing Orders

(Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the motion to amend the Standing Orders of Dewan Rakyat on Friday, Oct. 30, 1981)

DAP calls for a comprehensive review of the Parliamentary standing orders and procedures to give greater vitality and meaning to parliamentary democracy.

The proposed amendments to the Standing Orders, as moved by the Prime Minister, are part of the ad hoc and piecemeal tinkering with the Standing Orders ever since Merdeka, sometimes to correct technical mistakes and at other times, to restrict the opportunities for the Opposition to play a full part in initiating parliamentary business. Continue reading Parliamentary Standing Orders

Sugar-coated election budget

(Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, 27th Oct. 1981 on the 1982 Budget)

1982 Budget- a sugar-coated election budget which gives away $167 million in reduced taxes on consumer items in return for a blank cheque to spend $80.95 million nest year

The 1982 budget is clearly an election budget- sugar-coated to win votes in the next general elections expected early next year. Those who have doubts about the general elections being held next year need doubt no more with such a budget, especially with the way fears of the people were created and manipulated that there would be a tough budget, followed by the relief of a soft budget. Continue reading Sugar-coated election budget

The Mahathir Report on Education (2)

(Speech when winding-up the debate on the Mahathir Cabinet Committee Report on Education on June 10, 1980)

I regret that on a debate on such a vital issue as education, which would determine the future of our children and the nation, no Barisan Nasional MP showed any interest or took part in the debate – apart from the reply read out by the Deputy Education Minister. We know that Mps are deeply engrossed with the rumoured new increase of allowances, which I hear would be a 100% increase. If there is to be a 100% increase in allowance for MPs, then at least MPs should show a 100% increase in their interest of issues affecting the nation and people, and a 100% increase of their sense of responsibility. Continue reading The Mahathir Report on Education (2)

The Undemocratic Ban

(Speech by the Parliamentary Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Petaling, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on the 1979 Budget on October 23, 1978

One reason why the 1979 budget did not occupy the first place of national attention is because of the unreasonable exercise of executive and police power last Thursday. The government ban on the proposed Merdeka University meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Oct. 22 was highly unfair, undemocratic and one – sided.

As the Home Affairs Minister, Tan Sri Ghazalie Shafie, admitted to directors of Merdeka University Sdn. Bhd. when he called them up for a meeting on Oct. 19 – the Merdeka University directors were roused from bed at midnight or the early hours of that morning to be informed of the meeting with the Minister – the Merdeka University meeting would be lawful and disciplined. What the Minister feared was that the meeting would lead to counter – meeting which would be a threat to public order and national security.

If this was the case, then it is these ‘counter – meetings’ which should be banned, especially as there is no reason for any such counter – meetings at all.

For reasons best known to themselves, some irresponsible political leaders had allowed sections of the people to believe that the proposed Merdeka University constitutes a grave threat to the rights and interests of the Malays, when there is not a single iota of evidence that could be given to support this contention. The biggest threat to public order and national security are these irresponsible political leaders who ran emotional and racial feelings by picturing the Merdeka University as a threat to Malay interests.

When in the past, there had been several Bumiputra Economic Congresses, nobody objected and complained that this would pose a threat to public order or national security; why should this time, the Merdeka University meeting be treated so summarily and cavalierly?

In Malaysia, we seemed to have come to a stage where the pursuit of legal, constitutionally – sanctioned objectives by lawful, democratic and constitutional means has become a threat to public order and national security.

This can only deeper the despair and disillusionment of substantial sections of the reputation in the legal, democratic and constitutional processes – and this clearly cannot be beneficial to economic development and progress.

The Merdeka University Council has sent a cable to the Prime Minister, and I hope the Prime Minister would intervene to life the ban on the meeting imposed by the chief Police Officer who invoked the Internal Security Act regulations.

The reason given the Ministry of Home Affairs that the Merdeka University issue would be debated by Parliament is no valid ground for imposing the ban. Parliament does not operate in a vacuum. There is no law or constitutional convention to say that issues cannot be discussed by the public just because there is a parliamentary motion on it.

In fact, if democracy means anything, it must mean that there must be opportunities and processes for the people to participate in a national debate on questions of national concern outside Parliament, to guide Parliament, whether before or after Parliamentary deliberation or decision on the matter.

For the interests of racial harmony, it is vital and essential that immediate opportunities be furnished to allow for instance the Merdeka University authorities to explain and communicate to the Malay community that the Merdeka University does not constitute a threat to the rights, interests of the Malays; and that the Merdeka University is not meant to threaten Malay interests. So far, this important point has never been allowed to reach the Malay community especially through the mass media.

I call on the Prime Minister to give this matter urgent attention – so that through, radio, television and the Malay press, the impression that is being spread that Merdeka University is mooted to threaten Malay rights and interests can be countered and clarified. This is not only for the purpose of rectifying the misperceptions about Merdeka University; but even more important, for the longer – term understanding and harmony of the various races in the country.

Only three per cent of Malaysia’s university age group receive higher education

In the Chapter on socio – economic indicators on the Quality of Life in Malaysia (Chapter VI) in the 1978 – 79 Treasury Report, Table IV, Malaysia compares very unfavourably with other countries in terms of the percentage of university age group who are enrolled in higher education institutes.

Thus for the year 1975, only 3% of the university – age group aged 20 – 24 in Malaysia are enrolled in the higher education institutes; compared to 8% in Singapore; 20% in Philippines; 10% in the Republic of Korea; 22% in Australia and 25% in Japan. Only Thailand has a smaller percentage with only 2%.

Clearly, there is room and need for a doubling of higher education opportunities in our own country – either through public funds by expansion of existing universities and establishment of new universities; or the establishment of private universities.

The Government is spending $1,943 million for education from the operating expenditure of $8,709 million for 1979; but equally worthy of note is that security itself will appropriate a comparable figure of $1,924 million.

These are clearly too massive an expenditure on security sector, which not only has within it the seeds of a future military take – over in the future, future, but which money would be more profitably spent on education and other social services. I am not advocating a neglect of the importance of security and defence in our country – but finally, the surest foundation and assurance of security in Malaysia is to have a united, contented and happy Malaysian citizenry, rather in the billions spent on defence hardwares and cantonments.

I believe that the siphoning of expenditures from security sector to provide jobs for jobless, houses for homeless and land for landless, and educational opportunities for the educational denied, will do more to strengthen the national resilience than the over – massive expenditure on the security sector alone.
Pepper farmers of Sarawak
When I visited Sarawak at the end of last month, I met pepper farmers who belong to a very poor and hard-working lot. During the recent general elections, they were promised that there would be a 60 per cent reduction in the export duty of pepper to help pepper farmers. This got the Sarawak Barisan Nasional, and in particular SUPP, a lot of votes. But when the details of the change in the pepper export duty was announced, the pepper farmers found that they had been taken for a ride.

For all practical purposes, the pepper farmers had not benefited from the export duty change, but had been adversely affected by it. Although it is true that after July 20, 1978, the dutiable price for black pepper is now above $110 per picul instead of $40 per picul, while that of white pepper is above $130 compared to $55 per picul previously, this is no great improvement. The reason is that when the price of black pepper is $40 per picul or white pepper at the price of $55 per picul, the pepper farmers would not be able to recover their costs of production, and would have gone bankrupt.

Under the revised export duty for pepper, the rate went up as high as 50 per cent, or in other words, after a certain market price, the government collects 50 cents from every dollar. From what I understand, when this price level is reached attracting a 50% export levy, the pepper farmer’s income is only about $250 to $300 a month. How can the government, which claims to be committed to wipe out poverty, have the social conscience to impose a 50 per cent tax on such a category of farmers? Under income tax laws, the government imposes 50 per cent incidence of tax only where a taxpayer’s income exceeds $50,000 a year, or over $4,000 a month. But for pepper farmers, who make $250 a month, they have to pay export duty of 50 per cent for their product – without yet deducting fertiliser and labour costs!

My meeting with the pepper farmers have convinced me that the government should give special consideration to the pepper farmers to help them stand on their own feet. Pepper cultivators face many problems and high risks in their planting efforts – the most common of which is the fatal pepper disease such as ‘foot rot’. In Sarikei, the pepper death rate because of ‘Foot – Rot’ Disease is as high as 40 per cent. I met many who were previous pepper cultivators, but whose crops had been wiped out by foot – rot disease, and who lost not only their meagre savings invested in the pepper vines, but who are reduced to destitution.

As far as I know, the Government has no special grant or help for pepper cultivators whose plants have been wiped out by ‘Foot – Rot’ Disease. And although there is a Pepper Subsidy Scheme in Sarawak, I understand its implementation is most unsatisfactory and irregular. There are genuine pepper cultivators who could not get subsidy because the land in is not in their names – while the subsidy is distributed as if by way of lottery through chance.

Pepper takes two – years of gestation period, and if on the third year or fourth year, the pepper vines are all wiped out by disease, clearly acute poverty is caused. It is because of the high risk nature of pepper cultivation that there are no large pepper estates. Pepper cultivators put in their labour in family – units to cultivate the vines – and until pepper cultivation is more secure in the sense of prevention of ‘foot – rot’ diseases discovered, the government should help them in all way possible.

The pepper farmers would prefer this aid in the form of an abolition of the pepper export tax – for this accrue directly to the benefit of the pepper farmers; rather than the pepper subsidy scheme which is sometimes inequitably distributed, and the genuine farmers do not enjoy the benefit.

Educational tax rebate for Malaysian students studying abroad

It is also regrettable that the Finance Minister has not introduced innovations to relate the income tax laws to the national and social needs. For instance, the Government should grant tax reliefs or an educational rebate to Malaysians with less than $15,000 annual income to meet the educational expenditure of their children abroad, where their children could not get local university places. This should be considered both on grounds of equity – as this will help remove social injustice and make the lower – income Malaysians more able to compete with higher – income Malaysians; and on grounds of national interest – as this is a valuable form of national investment in human skills. I hope that in future budgets, this proposal of tax reliefs or educational rebate for Malaysians with less than $15,000

The loss of revenue in the above instances could be made up by higher income tax rates for the higher income brackets and more efficient collection of income tax and combating income tax evasion and avoidance.

Apart from the 50 per cent reduction in the import duty on fruits, which we in the DAP welcome and had right from the very start of imposition of high duty on foreign fruits called for, the other taxation variations are either inconsequential or benefit the well – to – do class. It is probably no surprise, considering the class which Barisan Nasional MPs derive from, that the tax change which received the greatest applause and table – thumping was Tengku Razaleigh’s announcement that import duties for cosmetics and perfumery was being reduced from 60% to 45%.

But I think what the overwhelming majority of Malaysians are more interested about is why the prices of essential commodities have not been brought down, especially with regard to sugar.

The Malaysian Government’s sugar deal with Australia has so far been blanketed in secrecy. All that the people knows is that although the world price of raw sugar has plummeted, Malaysians have still to pay 65 cents a kati for sugar in Peninsular Malaysia and 70 cents for Sabah and Sarawak – the price reached at the height of sugar price in 1975.

According to the Treasury Report, in the first 6 months of 1978 a total of 160,615 tonnes of raw sugar valued at $85.1 million was imported compared to 157,262 tonnes valued at $101.5 million in the same period of 1977. The import unit value at about $550 per tone was about 18% lower than that of the corresponding period of 1977 due to the general decline in the world sugar price as a result of the current world – wide sugar surplus. Yet, this saving of some $20 million in the import of raw sugar in the first six months of 1978 has not been passed on to the consumers, especially the poor!

In 1975, Malaysia entered into a long – term supply contract with Australia to buy 1.65 million tonnes of sugar from Queensland over a period of six years up to 1980 at a starting price of $814.50 per tonne. The Malaysian public were given the impression that this long – term supply agreement was a great achievement, and which was entered into to maintain the retail price of sugar.

With the world fall in the price of raw sugar, and sugar surplus, this long – term supply contract with Australia has proved to be an expensive disaster. Malaysian Ministers and officials made threatening noises about grave damage to Malaysia – Australia trade and other relations unless this long – term supply contract was re-negotiated. This was achieved in March 1978. But now, we are told that although the Australian sugar contract has been re-negotiated, and more reasonable terms obtained from the Australian sugar suppliers, the sugar retail price remains unchanged because it is the new agreement which will enable the Government to maintain the retail price of refined sugar in Malaysia. But meanwhile, the sugar refineries in the last two years, like Malayan Sugar Manufacturing Bhd. (MSM) and the Central Sugar Berhad (CSB) are chalking up big profits.

The Malaysian public have a right to know whether the Malaysian Government was representing the interests of the sugar refineries, or the Malaysian people, when it re-negotiated the sugar contract with the Australian Government; as the only beneficiaries of the sugar re-negotiation are the refineries, and not the rakyat.

I call on the Minister of Trade and Industry to give a detailed explanation, with facts of and figures, of prices of the sugar agreements before and after the re-negotiations, and the profit levels of the sugar refineries in Malaysia, to convince Malaysian people that they are not playing higher price for retail sugar just to enabled the sugar refineries to make bigger profits.