MCA, MIC And Gerakan To Prove That They Are Pro-Democracy By Supporting The Restoration Of Local Government Elections

Opening Speech
At The DAP Perak State Annual Convention
by Lim Guan Eng

(Ipoh, Sunday):  1965 forty years ago was a black year for democracy when local government elections was banned by the the government. The reason used was the national threat from the Indonesian Confrontation with the promise of its full restoration upon the end of this national crisis. Like many promises made to be broken, local government elections have never been restored. Many excuses were made but the real reason was that the opposition kept on winning local government councils.  

I shall be seeking a meeting with Housing & Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Ong Ka Ting to see whether he supports our call for adopting democracy in local government elections. DAP challenges MCA, MIC and Gerakan to prove that they are pro-democracy by supporting the restoration of local government elections. 

For far too long have local government being an appointed office and the people made to suffer its consequences with poor basic services and amenities, disreputable and corrupt management as well as ineffective and inefficient administration. Local governments are by and large unaccountable, unresponsive and often corrupt. 

On the 40th anniversary of the ban on local government elections, DAP intends to make 2005 the launch of a national campaign to restore democracy by electing our local councilors. The process shall start with a proposed meeting with Datuk Dr Ong as the Housing and Local Government Minister to determine whether he supports this campaign for democracy in Malaysia.  

That this announcement is made in Ipoh shows the importance of Perak in the drive for increased democratization in Malaysia following the results of the last general elections where the people of Kinta Valley and Perak returned 3 DAP MPs and 7 ADUNs led by Parliamentary Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang. We ask the people of Perak and Kinta Valley to take the lead to return local power to Malaysians. 

Education As A Force Of Unity Not As A Political Weapon To Divide The People.

MCA President Datuk Seri Ong should also explain why the government did not give fair treatment of SRJK© and new villages in allocation of development funds. Two days ago I presented a memorandum to Education Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Tun Hussein Onn urging that education should be the force for unity for all Malaysians and stop being used as a political weapons to divide the people. Three main issues that are divisive are:

  • Withdraw the use of “ketuanan Melayu” in the secondary Form 5 history textbooks which divides Malaysians into first and second class citizens when this phrase is not found in our Federal Constitution;

  • Stop the unfair treatment of SRJK©, SRJK(T)  and sekolah agama rakyat in allocation of development funds; and

  • Need for a common university entrance exam from the present STPM and matriculation program to realize the government’s promise of implementing meritocracy and improve educational standards.

As the only non-Malay Deputy Minister is MCA’s Datuk Han Choon Khim, MCA must explain why they have failed to endorse these three principles. 

Based on student enrolment figures in primary schools, SRJK© comprise 21% and SRJK(T) 3.6%. With an allocation of RM 6.6 billion under the 8th Malaysian Plan 2000-5 for primary schools, over 5 years SRJK© should be given RM 1.4 billion or RM 280 million annually whilst SRJK(T) RM 240 million or RM 48 million annually. Instead of RM 280 million annually, SRJK© only obtained RM 10 million last year. The announcement of an additional RM 3.4 million for SRJK© this year by MCA for SRJK© is really miniscule. 

For SRJK(T) the situation is similar. MIC President Datuk Seri Samy Vellu announced on 1 December 2004 that eleven Tamil schools nationwide will be refurbished under a RM 8.3 million refurbishment plan but so far there is no action. Amongst the 11 SRJK(T) are Kalaimagal in Sungai Patani, Batu Kawan and Subramaniam Barahi  in Penang,  Jalan Tepi Sungai(Klang) and Sungai Buloh and Kajang in Selangor, one in Teluk Intan, Senawang in Negeri Sembilan, Ulu Tiram and Kangkar in Johor,  Ladang Menteri in Pahang. Is this another of MIC and Samy’s empty promises?  

Is RM 50-55 Million Annual Allocation In Development Funds For New Villages Fair?

The annual allocation in development funds of RM 50-55 millon this year is unfair for the RM 1.6 million people living in the 452 new villages throughout the country. In other words each new village would receive an annual average of RM 120,000/- How much development projects can be done with RM 120,000 in a village?.  

MCA had repeatedly said that new villages are our roots and MCA will take care of the 1.6 million population of which  85% are Chinese 10% Malays and 5% Indians. Is giving RM120,000 per village or RM 32 per new villager annually MCA’s way of taking care of them? The 1.6 million probably pays more income tax than the RM 32 every year! 

Datuk Seri Ong as the Housing and Local Government Minister must explain the total amount allocated for rural development of all villages in the country and the vast difference in rural development funds obtained for new villages.

The Prime Minister Should Direct The National Statistics Department To Prove The Reliability Of Its Latest Population Census Or Else Repeat The Exercise Nationally to Determine The Actual Racial Composition In Malaysia

DAP calls on MCA, MIC, Gerakan and SUPP Ministers at the forthcoming Cabinet meeting on Wednesday request Prime Minister Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to direct the National Statistics Department to  prove the reliability of its latest population census or else repeat the exercise nationally to determine the actual racial composition in Malaysia. Politics is a numbers game and the number of people is an important as well as sensitive political factor as it decides on the extent of access to government resources, education, employment and economic opportunities. 

DAP agrees with MIC President Datuk S. Samy Vellu questioning Malaysia National Statistics Department on its estimate that Indians only made up 7.5% of the country’s 25.7 million population. Datuk Samy Vellu had said in The Star on 6.12.2004 questioning how the Indian population last year had gone down by 2.5% when the Indian community ranked second behind the Malays in the country’s birth rate and Indians in his constituency had told him that a house-to-house survey had not been conducted there. 

The National Statistics Department had revealed that Malaysia had a population of 25.7 million of which 24 million Malaysians and 1.7 million were non-Malaysians. Indians made up 1.8 million (7.5%), Chinese 6.1 million (25.4%), bumis comprising of 13 million Malays and 2.8 million other bumis (65.8%) and other races 300,000(1.3 %). There were 13.1 million males of which 12.1 million were Malaysians. And 12.6 million females of which 11.8 million Malaysians.

The decline in non-Malay population is expected but as Datuk Samy Vellu said, appears to have gone down more rapidly than the declining birth rate. At this rate by 2020, Chinese and Indians may comprise only 20% or 6% of the population respectively. The National Statistics Department must clarify whether the marked reduction of the Chinese and Indian population of 35% and 10% over 40 years ago is due to declining birth rate. Or whether the marked increase in the numbers of bumis helped by increased immigration of Muslims, especially from Indonesia. Muslim Indonesians who attain citizenship automatically become bumis even though they are not born in Malaysia.     

MIC has failed to preserve the rights of the Indian community but at least they voice their objections in contrast with the spineless and defeatist attitude MCA and Gerakan who quietly accept the injustices of the BN government’s discriminatory policies. Perhaps this is the reason why the loyalty of MCA leaders who hold senior government position in Malaysia is questionable when their leaders talk of loyalty to the country but become permanent residents in Australia or other foreign countries.


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General