DAP to move a private memberís bill in next monthís Parliament  to extend the repeal of the Rent Control Act by five years

Pengkalan Kota DAP Branch Mooncake Festival reception
Lim Kit Siang 

(Penang, Friday): The history of the mooncake festival is associated with opposition to oppression and the battle for justice and freedom.

The mooncake festival this year is particularly meaningful for Malaysians who are looking forward to far-reaching changes in the coming general election to break  the Barisan Nasional political hegemony in Malaysia by ensuring that its uninterrupted two-thirds parliamentary majority is broken and ended for good!

The landslide Barisan Nasional victory both in Penang state and the nation has brought more ill than good to the people of Malaysia.

In Penang, for instance, with the Barisan Nasional sweeping all the State Assembly seats except for the lone DAP state assemblywoman, Chong Eng for Batu Lanchang, the Barisan Nasional has bred a political culture of arrogance where the peopleís problems and grievances cease to occupy the priority as in the years between 1990 and 1995 when the Barisan Nasional had  to compete with the DAP for the hearts and minds of Penangites.

This is why, for instance, there are some 50 families living in 23 houses affected by the soil subsidence caused by Prangin Mall project in the Tanjong  area  who are still waiting for their houses to be repaired after three long years!

If the Penang State Governmet and  the Penang Municipal Council had been diligent in their jobs, they would have ensured that the Prangin Mall developer, Getaral Unggul Sdn. Bhd. would not have taken three long years and still not fully repaired the 360 houses,  affecting some 4,000 to 5,000 people, as a result of a man-made disaster.

Similarly, if the Barisan Nasional had not won such a thumping landslide victory in Penang in the 1995 general election, it would not have been so indifferent and irresponsible as  the plight of the tenants of the pre-war premises as a result of the repeal of the Rent Control Act by the end of this year.

In Parliament, the DAP MPs were the only voice opposing the legislation to repeal rent control  by the end of the year as the national and the state governments had failed to resolve   socio-economic hardships of the low-income Malaysians caused by such a repeal.

However, as a result of the DAPís persistent opposition to the repeal of the rent control by the end of this year, and mounting pressure from the affected tenants of pre-war premises, the Penang State Government was forced to publicly  modify its earlier support for the repeal by the end of this year.

Although the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon said that the Penang State Government had submitted an appeal to the Federal Government and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad to extend the repeal of the rent control legislation, there are no news yet when there are only three months left before the repeal of the rent control legislation is to take full  effect.

Parliament will reconvene  on Oct. 18  and will meet until Dec. 9 for its 2000 Budget  session  unless it is dissolved earlier for general election.

I will present a private memberís bill to extend the Rent Control (Repeal) Act by five years and I call on the Penang State Government and Gerakan and MCA MPs to support such a private memberís bill.

As an Opposition MP, I can move a private memberís bill for the Parliamentary meeting next month to extend the repeal of the rent control legislation by five years, but I do not have the powers to allocate Parliamentary time to ensure that it is debated and voted on the very first day of the Parliamentary meeting on Oct. 18.

If Gerakan and MCA  support the extension of the rent-control repeal legislation, Gerakan and MCA Ministers should get Cabinet support that my private memberís bill will be given priority over all other parliamentary business on Oct. 18 so that it would be debated and passed on that day.

Of course, if the Gerakan and MCA Ministers can persuade the Cabinet to present a government bill to extend the repeal of the rent-control legislation by five years, I am prepared to allow  the government  amendment bill to  take precedence.

I call on the Penang Chief Minister  as well as the Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs to publicly declare their stand on the DAP private memberís bill to extend the repeal of the rent-control legislation by five years.

The Prangin Mall subsidence/cracked houses and the rent control premises are not the only examples of the ills of a thumping landslide Barisan Nasional victory in the 1995 general elections.

Penangís infrastructure development today is even worse than before the 1995 general election, as evident by the paralysis of Georgetown and the state by floods, turning Penang into "Venice of the East" when there is a downpour and the suffocating traffic congestions.

This is why in the next general election, the people of Penang must support the DAP and the Opposition parties to ensure that there is again a strong, effective and powerful check on the Barisan Nasional government - by ensuring the election of 13 to 15 Penang State Assemblymen from the DAP and the Barisan Alternative.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong