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Democracy is that system of political governance where decision-making power rests on citizens who have equal rights.  A democratic political system is inclusive, participatory, accountable, transparent and responsive to the people needs and expectations. Clearly democracy is the only form of government consistent with all human freedoms and human rights.  

Speech At The Pusat Bandar DAP Branch “Restore The 3rd Vote” Dinner
by Lim Guan Eng  

(Johor Baru, Friday): Democracy is that system of political governance where decision-making power rests on citizens who have equal rights.  A democratic political system is inclusive, participatory, accountable, transparent and responsive to the people needs and expectations. Clearly democracy is the only form of government consistent with all human freedoms and human rights.  

There can be no taxation without representation. If the people pay assessment rates, they have a right to decide or elect their representatives to decide on their behalf how the taxes paid are spent.

The campaign to restore the third vote is inspired by democracy and driven by the deprivation caused by 4 decades of local government dictatorship. For forty long years since 1 March 1965, appointed local governments have been one of continuous failure.

This fundamental flaw of denying local democracy has resulted in the failure of providing of basic services and amenities, disreputable and corrupt management, ineffective and inefficient administration. Poor local governance is shown by:

•           Poor rubbish collections and disposal of wastes, grass cutting, proper drainage and beautification programmes;

•           Insufficient public amenities such as street lights causing snatch thefts and poor transportation  resulting in traffic jams;

•           Failure in the provision of public health as demonstrated by the deadly dengue epidemic menacing 25 million Malaysians;

•           Social functions such as child-care centres, clinics and ambulances are almost non-existent;

•           Budgetary decisions functions solely to prevent ratepayers, who provide the source of funds, from participating in spending decisions; and

•           Development projects breed corruption instead of meeting the socio-economic needs of the people

The expose by Ministry of International Trade & Industry Datuk Rafidah Aziz that Kuala Kangsar Muncipal cares more about landscaping (RM 51.5 million) than poverty alleviation (RM 1.5 million), is only the latest  series of failures of appointed local government. Amongst other excesses include appointed councilors using public funds for overseas junkets, buying expensive official gowns and having the expensive toilets with one in Kepong costing RM 450,000/-.

The late Datuk Athi Nahappan, who headed the Royal Commission of Inquiry to Local Governments in 1968, was correct. Local councilors must be elected by the people or else those not qualified or with questionable backgrounds get appointed. There is no excuse when a communist country such as China and an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia allow direct democratic elections of village heads and municipal councils. 

Neither is it logical that we can elect our Prime Minister and Menteri Besar but not our local councilors. For forty years, Malaysians have been denied their freedoms and their democratic right to choose their local representative. The time has come to correct this continuous failure.

Restoration of local government elections can lead to a solid foundation for democracy, good governance, financial accountability and transparency. Let us use the democratic power of all for the good of each to empower the people to take charge of their lives and community.

South Korea’s Reliance On Maximizing Human Resources And Potential Should Warn Malaysia The Correct Path Is Not To Restore The New Economic Policy(NEP) Which Emphasises Ownership Instead Of Competition And Merit..

DAP challenges MCA President Datuk Ong Ka Ting to have the courage to carry out education reforms, human capital development and capacity-building to produce Malaysians with the skills to lead the country’s economic growth to become a developed nation by 2020. To do so, Malaysia must learn from the successes of countries without any natural resources like South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore.

South Korea’s reliance on maximizing human resources and harnessing human potential should serve as a warning to Malaysia that the correct path is not to restore the NEP which emphasizes ownership instead of competition and merit. Instead Malaysia must study why Malaysia with all its rich natural resources like rubber, tin, petroleum and oil palm has lost out to those countries not endowed with such advantages.

A study on their successes show that the right strategies and policies show that there is no substitute for excellence and meritocracy. There is nothing wrong with equitable wealth distribution. What is wrong is the distribution mechanism of the NEP not only sacrifices merit and competition, it breeds corruption, cronyism, malpractices and inefficiency.

This is shown by the issuance of millions of ringgit of shares to son-in-laws and sons of Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The recent AP controversy exposed by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad where 12,600 Approved Permits(APs) were given to 82 companies but 54,600 APs to only 20 “selected” companies is another example of malpractice and abuse of power. By asking for the full 30% ownership equity, only the few rich Malays benefit from such cronyism and government patronage. How many ordinary Malays own shares or APs?

Another beneficiary of the NEP is former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Osu Sukam who instead of using his wealth fruitfully, found it fit to gamble RM 160 million in a London casino and incurring losses of RM 31 million. Malaysians are fed up of such accumulation of wealth by questionable means.

We should not forget that this bumi equity ownership is basically Malay dominated and neglects bumis from Sabah, Sarawak and orang Asli. Stressing on a Malay agenda ignores the reality that bumis from Sabah, Sarawak and orang Asli are marginalized and do not have any equity ownership.

Another example of such distortion is reflected by the high number of Indians professionals in proportion to their population but hides the large number of Indian poor. Indians hold only 1.5% of equity ownerhip or RM 3.2 billion. By stressing on race, the government also ignored the plight of non-bumi lower class and poor, in particular the Indians who were completely marginalized. Such neglect breeds resentment as shown by the violence and high incidence of crime involving the poor Indians.

Eradication of poverty has succeeded only in absolute terms. Relative poverty persists and is particularly evident in urban areas. How NEP has failed can be shown by the latest United Nations Human Development (UNHDP) Report 2004 that shows Malaysia has the worst income disparity between the rich and poor in South East Asia. The UNHDP Report 2004 shows the richest 10% in Malaysia controls 38.4% of our economic income as compared to our poorest 10% controlling only 1.7%. 

If we continue to deny deserving businessmen of equal opportunities or students of their university places because of the colour of their skin, then not only will innocent young Malaysians be victimized but the country’s international standards and economy will lose out. The government should learn that as far as allocative efficiency is concerned, competition and merit rather than ownership is the crucial issue in ensuring wealth creation and a fair distribution of wealth.

South Korea is a very good example of making the correct choice on allocative efficiency. In 1966 annual per capita GNP was less than US$ 130 as compared to Malaysia’s US$350. By 2003 according to the World Bank., GNP per capita in Korea had far exceeded Malaysia at US$12,033 as compared to Malaysia’s US$3,880.

From a situation where Malaysia was almost thrice more prosperous than Korea in 1966, Korea is now more than 3 times more prosperous than Malaysia. Malaysia would do well not to make the same mistakes by resorting to the NEP and set us even further back even losing out to Thailand. The question is whether MCA and Ong Ka Ting dare to speak up without fear or favour in the Cabinet?



* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General

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