DAP will have full and regular consultation with MTUC and trade union leaders to ensure that the voice of workers  will be heard loud and clear in Parliament in the next five years

at the Perak DAP May Day Forum
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh, Saturday):  The Malaysia Trades Union Congress financial secretary A. Sivanathan, who spoke before me, lamented that apart from the DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, the voice of workers had been ignored in Parliament in the past five years. 

I can give an assurance to Sivanathan and the workers in the country that DAP will have full and regular  consultation with the Malaysian Trades Union Congress and trade union leaders to ensure that the voice of workers will be heard loud and clear in Parliament in the next five years. 

Tonight’s May Day forum organized by Perak DAP has a dual purpose – firstly, to celebrate the 2004 May Day and secondly, to initiate the process of public consultation with NGOs, trade unions, professional organizations and the civil society as well as Malaysian citizens on various issues which should be brought up in Parliament. 

In preparation for the convening of the 11th Parliament on May 17, the Kinta Valley DAP proposes to hold a third public consultation  since the March 21, 2004 general election  in Ipoh next Monday, focussing on three themes: “Quality Education in Malaysia”, “Healthcare – a fundamental right” and “Accountability, Transparency and Integrity”. 

On 16th May, 2004, DAP is organizing a one-day  National Public Parliamentary Consultation covering wide-ranging subjects like parliamentary reforms, the rule of law and doctrine of separation of powers, democracy and education, national integrity plan and the  fight against corruption, women’s rights,  Malaysian workers and globalization. 

Among the speakers who have accepted the invitation to participate in the National Public Parliamentary Consultation are Datuk Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and who  is specifically responsible for parliamentary affairs, Professor K.S. Jomo,  Raja Aziz Addruse, Professor Syed Hussein Alatas, Tunku Abdul  Aziz, G. Rajasegaran and Shanti Dariam. 

The secretary of the DAP Parliamentary caucus, Teresa Kok, will be announcing the full details of the National Public Parliamentary Consultation in the next few days. 

The 12 DAP MPs have been assigned various portfolios for them to specialize and to  be knowledgeable and informed about the major issues associated with the subjects – not to be a shadow cabinet, as it would be very  presumptuous for DAP, with only five per cent of parliamentary representation, to behave as if it is a government-in-waiting.  However, DAP MPs should be fully professional and responsible in the discharge of their parliamentary responsibilities and be  practitioners of life-long education. 

The MPs have been advised to set up committees for the various portfolios, comprising party and non-party people, both to educate the party and involve greater public involvement in the nation’s decision-making process through public dialogues, consultations, seminars, etc. 

DAP Acting Secretary-General and MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran, who has been assigned the portfolios of human resources, human rights and environment, has just informed me that he would be able to announce the composition of his  committee on human resources in the next few days as it is in the final stage of constitution – making it the first DAP parliamentary committee to be formed. 

As the MTUC Financial Secretary is present with us tonight, let me be bold to  suggest a  consultation on labour issues between the DAP parliamentary committee on human resources with MTUC leaders next week, so that DAP MPs will be fully prepared to raise a whole spectrum of labour issues close to the heart of workers and trade unions in the first meeting of the 11th Parliament on 17th May. 

I am shocked by the revelation by  Sivanathan at the forum about the failures and sins of commission and omission  of the Human Resources Minister, Dr. Fong Chan Onn to ensure justice for the workers. Sivanathan told us of a most flagrant  case of industrial injustice by Fong where he took six long years to refer a  dismissal  dispute to the Industrial Court. In this case,  a Malay driver of a bus company was dismissed in January 1998 and Fong only referred his case to the Industrial Court  six years later in January 2004. 

In countries where there is a “First World culture and mentality” of  responsibility, such heartless and unconscionable six-year delay in ensuring industrial justice  would have been a social outrage and national scandal of the first magnitude, and no Cabinet Minister guilty of such dereliction of duty would be able to continue to hold public office, let alone be re-appointed as Cabinet Minister to the very same portfolio! 

Fong’s six-year delay to refer the case of dismissal to the Industrial Court had made  total nonsense of the very rationale for setting up the Industrial Court – to obviate the long delay of the normal legal system to dispense quick industrial justice to workers as “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”! 

Can Fong explain why he had been sleeping on his Ministerial duties  as there are 6,000 dismissal cases on his desk which are awaiting his decision to refer them to the Industrial Court – with at least 50 per cent of them with a history of  more than three years? 

Fong has clearly misconstrued his Cabinet functions and responsibilities and has become  the Minister for Industrial Injustice with such inordinate and unconscionable delay in referring industrial disputes involving dismissals to the Industrial Court. 

The Cabinet next Wednesday should reprimand Fong for his colossal failures  as Human Resources Minister and demand how he proposes to ensure that the shocking backlog of 6,000 outstanding cases awaiting his decision to refer them to the Industrial Court could be  disposed of before Parliament meets on May 17.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor