Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Final speech of Dato' Ngeh Koo Ham as Chairman of DAP Perak ON 8TH December 2013

1. People suffer when BN Government remains

Pakatan Rakyat had hope to change the BN Government both at the Federal as well as at the State level at the 13th General Election held on 5/5/2013. PR had forwarned that if the change does not come, the people will suffer. Since 5th May, the people feel the effect of BN continuing its BarangNaik (price hike) policy. The BN government passes on the burden to the people through price hike rather than taking strigent measures to cut the profit of crony companies, wastages, reduce corruption and practice good governance by having open tender, doing away with monopolies etc.

The standard answer given by BN whenever there is a price hike is that it will not burden the people. This is catastrophic for the people as the BN government still does not recognize that price hike is a burden to the people. As such, the BN government will not act to lessen the burden of price hike on the people.

Fuel, sugar prices and road tolls have increased drastically in recent years. Electricity tariff was increased by 7.0% in 2011. The government has just announced another 15% hike in electricity tariff in Peninsula Malaysia and 17% hike in Sabah. The hike for commercial and industrial users is 16.85%. It will be coupled with another 2.0% for Green Energy charges next year and another 6.0% of GST from 1/4/2015.

In Kuala Lumpur the assessment rates for houses, offices, malls and other buildings have increasedby up to a few hundred per cent and the same is expected in many BN controlled states in the near future. The BN Federal Government has announced the implementation ofGoods and Services Tax (GST) from 1/4/2015 which the Secretary General of the Finance Ministry, Tan Sri MohdIrwanSerigar Abdullah had said will reap in RM32.00 billion a year for the Government, equivalent to RM1,140 per person per year for the 28.0 million Malaysians. It translates into RM5,700 per family of 5 which means that each family will have to pay an additional sum of RM475 per month whilemaintaining the same lifestyle. BN Government gives a needy family RM650-00 under BRIM but takes back 9 times from them! This is definitely a big burden for most Malaysian families. Coupled with the abovesaid fuel, sugar, toll, electricity and assessment rates hikes,GSTwill a very veryheavy burden formost Malaysians.

The BN government has announced that more price hike will be coming as the Government will reduce many more subsidies that Malaysians are enjoying.Malaysians should rightfully be entitled to many of these subsidies due to the huge income we receive from our petroleum and our natural resources. Malaysians will soon be deprived of the riches of our nation. This is the outcome of decades of mismanagement, wastages, corruption, abuse of power and cronism under the BN government.

Our national debt now stands at more than RM500 billion and we are paying about RM23.1 billion a year to service the debt. Coupled with interest, we expect to settle our national debt only in 30 years provided our Government does not incur further debt. Unfortunately, our Government is incurring further debt by presenting a deficit of RM40.0 billion in the 2014 budget. We will never be able to repay our debt and the nation will be bankrupt not many years from now if this trend of incurring further debt continues. The BN government has been presenting deficit budgets for the past 17 consequtive years since 1998. It must be noted that since Dato Seri NajibTun Abdul Razak took over as premier, the national debt has more than doubled from RM236.18 billion in 2008 to more than RM500 billion now.

2. BN Perak Government continues to disappoint

(i) Perak the 4th poorest State

Perak is the 4th poorest State with regard to mean monthly gross household income. Mean Monthly gross household income in Perak in 2012 was RM3,548, only better to Perlis (RM3,538), Kedah (RM3,425) and Kelantan (RM3,168). Perak was once the richest State in Malaysia. BN Perak Government has finally admitted in the just concluded sitting of the Perak State Assembly 2 weeks ago that its promise in 2006 that it will bring Perak to a developed State status by 2015 was an empty promise. Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri NajibTunRazakwhen presenting the 2014 Federal budget has defined one of the criteria to classify a nation as a developed nation, that the nation’s citizen must achieve per capital income of US15,000 (or about RM48,000). Percapital income of Malaysians was RM23,626 in 2012 and per capital income of Perakianswas only RM20,569 in 2012 below national per capital income. We are a far cry for achieving a developed nation status though Malaysia has been placed first among developing nations for the past more than 20 years.

(ii) Failure to attract tourists

120.2 million foreign tourists visited Malaysia during the last 5 years (2008-2012) bringing in revenue of RM278.36 billion. Unfortunately only 2% of the tourists i.e 2.4 million visited Perak during that period or about 480,000 tourists per year. This is stated by the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, in his reply to me in Parliament on23/9/2013.Tourist arrivals in Perak are a far cry if compared to Penang. Penang airport arrivals alone are expect to hit the 5.5 million mark by the end of 2013.

(iii) Failure to attract investments

The highest investment registered in the history of Perak is still in 2008 when it was administered by Pakatan Rakyat at RM3.13 billion. We expected the trend of high investments to take off as scores of local and foreign investors have visited Perak then with a view of investing in Perak but unfortunately, their enthusiasm were killed when BN undemocratically grabbed power on 6/2/2009. Investments have never recovered since then.

Penang registered investment of RM36.1 billion (both local and foreign) in the last 5 years (2008-2012) while Perak only registered about RM9.3 billion during the same period. We are already behind Penang and with the continued failure to attract more investments we will fall far behind others.

(iv) Corruption and abuse of power in approving state lands rampant

Recently our former Prime Minister, TunDr Mahathir Mohammad admitted that there was corruption during his tenure but he said it has now become worse and that the Malaysian authorities are not taking action to curb corruption. Malaysia was placed in No. 23 position when Transparency International Corruption Perception Index was first introduced in 1995. Her position has deteriorated and is nowplaced at No. 53 in 2013. Corruption and abuse of power is no better in Perak. Since the BN grab of power on 6/2/2009, BN Perak State government has approved 112,546.7 acres of land equivalent to 1km wide by 455 km long i.e from Alor Star to Kuala Lumpur, many involving corruption and abuse of power. PR Perak has expose so many cases of land approved to cronies but until now we do not see any action taken by MACC or other authorities against them for abuse of power.

(v) Refusing to implement reforms

The PR elected representatives have asked the formation of the following 3 select committees:

a) Select committee on the land offices and the office of the Director of Lands and Mines.

b) Select committee on Government Link Companies.

c) Select committee on local governments.

The reason for the formation of the above said 3 select committees is to focus at the places where corruption and abuse of power happenthe most in the State.

It is also to be noted that since the formation of the Public Accounts Committee chaired by a BN elected representative has not even met once. I call on the Perak Government to allow an opposition elected member to chair this committee as is the norm in a healthy democracy.

BN Perak Government has refused to embrace the reforms proposed by PR elected representatives.

3. Stop UMNO/BN racial discriminatory policies which have been used to rob the people

The icon against racial discrimination, Mr Nelson Mandela has just passed away on 6/12/2013 and the world embraces what he symbolizes. Tributes for what he fought for are pouring in. Unfortunately, in Malaysia, UMNO the main component of the ruling party is still propagating its version of apartheid of racial discrimination. It had in the past demanded30% of the economic cake purportedly for the Bumiputrasand now there is a call for it to be increased to 67.9% in proportion to the population of bumiputras in the country. The truth is, many UMNO leaders were plundering in the guise of protecting the rights of Bumiputras. The Government gave away 54 billion shares since the New Economic Policy was implemented in 1971 for Bumiputras that most of them were taken and sold by UMNO leaders at the expense of the Bumiputra population. There is no limit to what bumiputras can acquire but they must work for it. UMNO need not shout about what Bumiputras can acquire. The UMNO leaders unashamedly demands that wealth be stolen and given to them when they demand 30% or 67.9% of the economic cake. If truly UMNO leaders love the Bumiputras they should be working hard to uplift their economic position and not their own and to share the massive wealth that they have amassed with them.

4. PR must continue to be the People’s Hope

Many of PR supporters are disappointed that we did not succeed in forming government at the Federal level as well as the Perak State level. I hope they will not be discouraged as PR is still the hope of the people.

The 13th General Election on 5/5/2013 saw majority of Malaysians and the majority of Perakians supporting Pakatan Rakyat though we did not succeed in helming the Federal Government as well as the State Government of Perak.

PR obtained 51%Parliamentary votes at the Federal level.

At the Perak State level,BN obtained 512,861 while PR obtained 623,860 of the Parliamentary votes. PR won by 110,999 votes or 54.88% of the total votes casted for PR and BN.

In the Perak State Constituencies, PR obtained 625,710 votes while BN obtained 506,947 votes. PR won by 118,763 votes or 55.24% of the total votes casted for PR and BN.We were not able to form the State Government because we lack 2 seats. PR won 28 seats compared to BN’s 31 seats. PR lost to BN by 52 votes in the State Constituency of LubokMerbau and 132 votes in the State Constituency of Manjoi. We believe it is easier for PR to win less than 200 votes in the 14th General Election to form government than BN trying to win for about 120,000 votes to form government in the next general election.

Many service centres of Gerakan and MCA in DAP contested areas have closed since the 13th General Election. The people have placed their hope in PR especially in DAP contested areas. We must not and cannot fail them though we were not able to form government in Perak. We must be committed to serve them though in difficult circumstances where funds are not available to us due to our position as the opposition in the Perak State.

5. What we must do

We must not sit back and allow the situation to deteriorate until the nation cannot be saved even if PR comes to power after the 14th General Election. We must continue to pressure the government to reform. We demand that the Government review the many monopolies and contracts that favour BN crony companies. We demand that corruption and inflated prices of purchasesbe stopped as the losses incurred will finally be borne by the general population. We want to pressure the Malaysian Anti CorruptionCommission to act. Last but not the least, we want the Perak Government to get down to work among others to make sure we get more tourist dollars, to resolve the problems now besetting the bird nests and Arowana fish industries and to have plans promoting and increasing the yield of other produce of Perak. Since Penang government has announced that its BayanLepas international airport will reach its full capacity of 5.0 million arrivals by end of 2013 and needs airport expansion or a new airport, the Federal Government should consider approving the Utara Malaysia Airport Terminal (UMAT) at AlorPongsu near ParitBuntar which is only about 30 minutes by car to Penang. The UMAT project a Private Financial Initiative was early rejected for fear of affecting the business of Penang International Airport.It will be ideal for UMAT to be built now to cater for the additional passengers intending to go Penang and at the same time facilitate passenger arrivals, both local and international to Perak as Kerian District (where ParitBuntar is situated) has been designated as the transportation hub for Perak where there is at the moment an interstate bus terminal and also the double track train station. We hope to see increase in income of Perakians from tourism, investments and increase of revenue from the produce of Perak in order to surmount the expected huge rise in the costs of living due to the price hikes of goods and services in the immediate future.

6. We will not fear.

BN's final resort will be to use the tactic of creating fear. BN wants to punish the Chinese for not supporting it in the 13th General Election. It has been suggested that those who did not support BN be denied BRIM. One MCA leader has proposed that only children of those who support BN be allowed to be admitted to TAR College and UTAR although when collecting funds for TARC & UTAR they never make it a point to collect only from BN supporters. Let it be clear to BN that as much as the South Africans were successful in overcoming the oppressive apartheid regime, the people of Malaysia will overcome BN's politics of fear.The late revered Nelson Mandela has once said, ' I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear '.
We shall rise and be people who overcome. Let this message be loud and clear to BN for we are determined to save Malaysia from doom in the hands of BN.

No comments: