by DAP Secretary General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock
when debating the 2003 Budget in the Dewan Rakyat
on Monday, 30.9.2002

1.Pro people Budget expected next year

The Finance Minister, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohammad has, in his second last Budget presentation, presented what has been generally described as a pro business Budget.

I believe that the Finance Minister will announce a pro people Budget next year so as to firstly; show his gratitude to the people for having made him the longest serving Prime Minister of the nation, and secondly: to win support for the Barisan Nasional through goodies in an election Budget.

I therefore predict that the present Parliament will not be dissolved before the presentation of his last Budget in September next year.

2.Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)-- concerns must be addressed

The latest release of FDI Confidence Index 2002 by global management consulting firm AT Kearney indicated that Malaysia has experienced a significant drop in its latest year's country rankings, falling from 22nd position out of the top 25 destinations.

In the reports, it was mentioned that a shortage of high-skilled labour and increasing labour costs are part of the reasons that put Malaysia at a competitive disadvantage vis--vis other regional locations. For Malaysia to compete with Singapore and South Korea in know how driven manufacturing is difficult while at the same time, Malaysia also loses out to lower cost Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam..

The report also said, 'fears of terrorism and the complex relationship between politics and business' are some reasons why Malaysia lost investment attractiveness.

Such concerns raised must be addressed, and a true assessment should also be made on the impact caused by the unilateral declaration by the Prime Minister on 29.9.2001 that Malaysia is an Islamic State

I urge Umno and Pas to cease their political competition on the questions of Islam and Islamic State as such competition to out Islam or out Islamic State each other will have adverse effects on the nation's international competitiveness.

Lets also remember that international businesses do not just look at low cost production anymore. Foreign companies are less interested in low wages but are giving priority to productivity and huge markets such as in China.

China is emphasizing on investment in human capital and technology catch up through FDI. Malaysia should thus adopt a long-term strategy of investing in human capital, reskilling and education as a life long process.

3.EU GATS Request -Leaked Documents

While we are already facing the problem of FDI decline, the greater threat to the nation's economy is going to come from globalisation.

I have with me a set of leaked documents which contents will have far reaching implications to Malaysia's economy, development and future.

The European Union GATS request document entitled 'GATS 2000 - Request from the EC and its Member States to Malaysia' was leaked in Europe in April 2002. The leaked document reveals the European Union draft plans for opening up or liberalizing essential services in 29 countries under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

This agreement is presently being negotiated at the World Trade Organization in Geneva. These countries include India, Canada, Egypt, Thailand, Mexico, the US and Malaysia.

The European Union is requesting the Malaysian current GATS commitment be revised in accordance with its present request. It is a 36-page document outlining in detail the sectors and sub sectors that the EU want opened-up. It is a negotiating draft written by te European Commission on behalf of the member states.

The EC requests that the Malaysian government liberalize a total of 12 services in the country.

Specifically, the leaked documents explicitly targets the liberalizing of essential services such as water distribution, postal services, legal services, environmental services, construction and related engineering services, news agency services and electricity generation and telecommunication services, opening up of the banking, insurance and finance.

The request to Malaysia was to be made by July 2002 and the Malaysian government needs to reply formally by March 2003. Both the EC and Malaysia would have to negotiate a final outcome by the next WTO Ministerial Meeting in 2004.

The EC requests have far reaching implications and are breath-taking in scope. The EC is demanding the elimination of Malaysian laws regulating foreign investments. It has specifically requested the Malaysian government to remove restrictions on acquisitions, mergers and takeovers as well as restriction on control of Malaysian corporations through joint venture or other arrangement.

Furthermore the EC is requesting that the Malaysian government:

a.. Remove restrictions in order to allow foreign law firms and lawyers to practice in Malaysia;
b.. Remove restrictions to allow foreign accounting firms to have more than 30% ownership in Malaysian accounting firms.
c.. Remove restrictions curtailing foreign companies providing basic services to acquire shares of existing licensed public telecommunications operators.

Essentially, the EC requests reflect the interests of Europe business. It is designed to take-over the services of Malaysia. In fact, the requests by the EC to remove foreign equity ownership restrictions tantamount to selling the countries resources - including essential services such as water and electricity - to European corporations.

In fact the entire development trajectory of the country will be brought to an end if the EC requests are realized. Small and medium industries will not be able to compete with the European big businesses, thus the end of SMI.

It is most undemocratic that Malaysians have to find out about the EC wish list from a leaked document. There is a need for transparency, parliamentary debate and public scrutiny of the GATS negotiations. Secretly negotiating trade and investment policies and in the processes selling the productive resources and wealth of the nation are both an affront to democracy and a major disservice to Malaysian based business, especially small and medium industries.

The government should also reveal what are the requests which have been received from other countries.

4. Home Minister must apologise for the scandalous situation of traffic summons issued under section 115 of the 1987 Road Transport Act

On 19.6.2002, I had, through an adjournment speech in Parliament, challenged the legality of summons issued to the motorists by the Police during Ops Warta II under section 115 of the 1987 Road Transport Act.

I had said that in the POL170A traffic offence notices sent to the motorists, it has been clearly sated that registered owners of motor vehicle who did not commit the offence as stated are requested to furnish the drivers' details to the Police in compliance with section 115 of the 1987 Road Transport Act.

This therefore automatically means that only in cases where the registered owners do not admit they are the drivers who have committed the offence are required to furnish the particulars of the drivers to the Police within 7 days after receiving the notices.

Hence the Police's action in penalizing the motorists on the ground that they have failed to furnish the driver's particulars is without basis, unreasonable and illegal.

A piece of such summon carries a penalty of RM 300, resulting in many motorists having to pay RM 600 for an unsettled traffic offence notice, that is, RM 300 for the principal offence which can be speeding or even parking along a yellow line, and an additional penalty of RM 300 for the second offence alleged as failure to submit the driver's particulars to the Police.

The deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heong when replying to my adjournment speech said that the Police would seek clear interpretations of the words tuanpunya and pemandu, which appeared on the notice from the office of the Attorney General.

On 3.7.2002, after getting public feedback and after personally knowing that Police in more than one state had decided to cancel the summons, I publicly welcomed such a move and called on the Police to confirm the cancellation. I had personally checked with the Police and was informed cancellation was automatic and all motorists who had been served with such summons were not required to go to the Police station to have their summons cancelled.

Many motorists who went to enquire at Police counters were told the same story-that they did not have to pay the summons as all such summons had been cancelled automatically.

On 12.9.2002, when replying to my question as to how many summons were issued under section 115 of the 1987 Road Transport Act during the Ops Warta 2, the deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heong replied that a total 35, 624 summons had been issued but 29,840 had been cancelled due to a few factors.

He said that among the factors were:

1.. many registered vehicle owners did not update their addresses and as a result the offenders did not receive the notices send by registered post
2.. there were offenders who had shifted or went to study or work in overseas countries, resulting in the registered notices sent being undeliverable

He also said inside and outside the Parliament that the cancellation was temporary and that Police would reissue summons to 29,840 offenders whose summons had been cancelled.

I welcomed the government's confirmation of what I had announced in July about the summon cancellation. But I also said that the deputy minister was misleading and lying to the House because his reasons given for the cancellation could not be true due to two reasons:

1.the Police had in fact issued the summons face to face to the offenders either at roadblocks or at Police payment counters

2.the cancellation was automatic and " permanent " because many motorists who had gone to the Police either at the Police station or the Courts had been told so.

The question of the Police's failure to send the registered notice did not arise at all as unlike the millions of POL170A traffic offence notices which were sent by post to motorists, these summons issued as 257 summons were passed to the motorists face to fact during the Ops Warta II either at Police road blocks or at Police payment counters.

I have known many cases where offenders who had gone to the Police stations with summons in their hands were told that all such summons had been cancelled. How could Chor now claim that the Police cancelled the summons because the offenders could not be reached!

How could the deputy minister claim that the cancellation was temporary when motorists who wanted to pay he penalty were told the cancellation was automatic?

The Police only issued these summons from 20 May to 20 June this year. Within a month, they had decided to cancel all such summons except those which had been settled. Is not there something wrong?

The Police had issued millions of traffic notices called POL170 A to motorists and they could not trace or reach many of the motorists, why did not the Police cancel all remaining notices if it is just a question of being unable to reach some of the motorists?

It seems that the two reasons as to why the Police are reluctant to admit the real reasons for the cancellation are to avoid having to refund the money to those who have already paid and to avoid tarnishing the Police credibility.

The deputy minister's assertion that the Police would reissue the summons warrants an immediate clarification and rebuttal from the Home Minister as this is the first time that the government had announced that cancellation of a summon was only temporary.

I do not believe any one has come across or ever remember that the government has ever made such a ridiculous and unacceptable decision called " temporary cancellation."of any policy or summons.

The deputy minister's answer has further tarnished the credibility of the Police as well as the Home Ministry. The Home Minister must therefore treat this matter as important and urgent and make the necessary clarification in the Parliament.

However, what was most shocking is that the Federal traffic chief Datuk Bharin Ahmad, when asked to comment that the Police have started to issue summons under section 115, had told Sin Chew Jit Poh on 24.9.2002 that the Police never cancelled such summons.

I have criticized the deputy minister for giving false reasons for the cancellation of the summons. Datuk Ahmad Bahrin has in effect basically said that the deputy minister was lying to the House because there was no cancellation at all.

This is a shame and a scandal! The Home Minister must apologise for such a scandalous situation and immediately reveal the true picture.

The Home Minister must inform the House that :

1.. the Police's action in issuing the summons was illegal
2.. the cancellation was automatic and permanent
3.. the government will refund the motorists who have paid the compound

I must also register my regret and disappointment at the lack of professionalism shown by the Inspector General of Police and Attorney General on this issue.

I had, in early July, called on the IGP to break his silence and confirm the cancellation to his office, but he chose to remain silent even till today. Did he not know then that there were many motorists who had had sleepless nights because of the summons and that some were even forced to borrow money from loan sharks to settle the harsh penalty.

Following the deputy minister's reply in the Parliament in June, I had also written to the Attorney General on the legality of the summons but till today, there is still no reply.

I can truly understand why Datuk Haji Muhammad Kamil Bin Awang, when writing the Likas judgment last year, decided to record the culture of government departments and public institutions of not responding to letters from the public.

I will bring up more examples of such culture at the relevant Committee stage to show that the judge 's observations are valid and true. Let me however bring up one more example.

On 14.9.2001, I had made an official appeal to the Suhakam to intervene and investigate the plight of Tan Seng Hin, a Sarawak resident who was unfairly deported from Sarawak.

After failing to obtain any reply from Suhakam for almost 9 months, I wrote to the Suhakam on 3 rd June this year. it is now more than a year since I first lodged an appeal with Suhakam but till today no one has bothered to give me any reply as to the latest status or whether any investigation has been carried out.

Perhaps Suhakam is waiting for me to lodge a complaint about my right to a reply being violated by them!

I wish to ask the Home Minister to provide satisfactory and clear answers to the following two questions:

1.. when the AG confirmed in May that the Police was in full compliance with the laws and could carry out the Ops Warta II, why did he not mention, as pointed out by me in July this year, that before year 2000, the Police had failed to comply with section118 of the 1987 Road Transport Act which required them to send POL170A notices to motorists by registered post? Was it because he was not aware of it or because he had chosen not to address the issue?

2.. since the deputy minister Datuk Chor Chee Heong had admitted in this House on 19. 6.2002 the Police that before 2.8.2000, the Police did not send out the millions of POL170A notices to the motorists by registered post as required by section 118 of the 1987 Road Transport Act, why are not these notices declared as null and void and cancelled due to the fact that the notices are invalid?

5. Abolish the Final Objective of Education Policy

On the issue of Vision School, Dong Jiao Zong have been accused as anti student integration or anti national unity. They have also been accused of wanting to create little China in Malaysia.

On the recent proposal by the government to teach Mathematics and Science subjects in English, Dong Jiao Zong have again been severely criticized by government leaders and Umno Youth as extremists.

Renowned Chinese educationist Dato Sim Mou Yu, who was conferred a Datukship due to his contributions to the nation through his selfless struggle for Chinese education was not spared the unfair accusation and was also classified as an extremist by the government.

Such criticisms against the Dong Jiao Zong are unfair, unjust, unjustified, unreasonable and groundless. I do not wish to repeat here the rebuttals which I have made in this august House on 16.9.2002. Suffice to say that while I do not accuse the government of wanting to close down the Chinese primary schools, the government must also realize and ask why the 1996 Education Act, the educational policies and measures have not only failed to dispel the fears with regard to the character and identity of the Chinese primary schools, but have instead strengthened and provided more grounds for such fears?

I can quote many examples of government's policies, measures and actions to justify such legitimate fears and concerns of the Chinese community, however, it is the root cause which we must all address. And the root cause is the "ultimate objective."

The 1956 Razak Educational Report declared " The ultimate objective of educational policy in this country must be to bring together the children of al races under a national educational system in which the national language is the main medium of instruction, though we recognize that progress towards this goal cannot be rushed and must be gradual.

This is a violation of the second objective of the national educational policy spelt out in the 1957 Education Act, that is, "the preservation of the language and culture of other races".

Clause 3 of the 1957 Education Act reads:

" The educational policy of the Federation is to establish a national system of education acceptable to the people as a whole which will satisfy their needs and promote their cultural, social, economic and political development as a nation, with the intention of making the Malay language the national language of the country whilst preserving and sustaining the growth of the language and culture of peoples other than Malays living in the country."

Dong Jiao Zong have argued that such ultimate objective have become the guiding policy of the 1961 Education Act. They also agued that the preamble and various sections of the 1996 Education Act have in fact strengthened the " ultimate objective'.Until today, the government has not been able to debunk such arguments.

As such, the first step the government must do if it is serious in wanting to effectively dispel the fears of Dong Jiao Zong and the Chinese community is to remove the ultimate objective and amend the 1996 education Act to provide provisions which are mutually understood and agreed by the government and the Chinese community to be clear guarantees of the status, character and identity of the Chinese primary schools.