Five urgent issues which should be addressed by the post-Hari Raya Cabinet

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Friday): Last Tuesday, I issued an Open letter to Cabinet Ministers on the eve of their first millennium Cabinet to restore national unity among Malaysians after the dirtiest election in the nationís history, touching on far-reaching policy issues, namely:

The first millennium meeting of the Cabinet last Wednesday was a great disappointment, for it clearly failed to rise up to the occasion to deal with these ten big policy issues.

In fact, the Cabinet last Wednesday even failed to deal with urgent administrative issues, and I would urge the post-Hari Raya Cabinet meeting  next Wednesday to address  the following five matters:

1. Play a more substantial and meaningful role in the rebuilding of East Timor.

The Cabinet should rescind the  decision to send token force of 20 military observers to United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor and to despatch instead the originally-intended Malaysian contingent of between 800 and 1,500 peacekeepers to honour the nationís international commitments and  to  promote the ASEAN spirit

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had told  the United Nations General Assembly last  September that  ASEAN should and was ready to  take the lead in East Timor peacekeeping when the UN Transitional  Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) is formed and which  will  remain in East Timor  for two to three years to help ease the path  to independence and nationhood

Singapore will deploy 185 military and  support personnel, including eight women, for UNTAET, with the  most senior member of the Singapore contingent, Col Mark Koh,  assuming the post of deputy chief of staff at the Untaet headquarters.

Malaysia should be more serious in our regional and international commitments by making a more substantial and meaningful contribution to UNTAET.

2.  Provide an  overall allocation of  RM240 million to help resettle the tenants of some 33,000 pre-war premises as a result of the ill-planned rent decontrol

Last October, the Cabinet approved a special allocation of RM80 million to the Penang Government to "resettle"  tenants of pre-war and colonial buildings following the repeal of  the Rent Control Act 1966 on Dec 31 last year.

The Cabinet should approve a similar allocation for all the 32,852 pre-war and colonial buildings  throughout the country and not just for the 12,577 pre-war premises in Penang.
The Cabinet should provide an overall allocation of RM240 million to help resettle the tenants of the some 33,000 pre-war premises, distributed in the following manner:  Penang (12,609 premises - RM80 million), Johore (5,659 - RM35 million), Perak (5,531 premises - RM35 million), , Malacca (4,135 premises - RM25 million),  Kuala Lumpur (2,117 premises - RM15 million) with another RM50 million allocation for the prewar premises in the rest of the country.

MCA Ministers have clearly failed in their Ministerial responsibilities in not asking for the same special allocation for tenants of pre-war premises outside Penang.

3.  Enforce Cabinet decision in Malacca that Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar should not head Municipal Councils

Malacca Chief Minister, Datuk Wira Mohd Ali Rastam had violated the Cabinet ruling that Chief Ministers and Mentris Besar should not head Municipal Councils when he personally took over the Malacca Municipal Council.

The Cabinet had also barred  State Exco members from holding the post of council president or Datuk Bandar.

In Octover 1997,  all Menteris Besar and Chief Ministers had agreed  that all presidents of municipal and district councils be employed full-time.

The question is whether the new Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Ong Ka Ting could enforce the Cabinet decision

4.  Direct the Home Ministry to stop its clamp-down on press freedom by withdrawing show cause notices to Harakah and Detik on why their printing licences should not be withdrawn

The Cabinet should intervene and direct the Home Ministry to stop its clampdown on press freedom by withdrawing show cause notices to Harakah and Detik on why their printing licences should not be withdrawn and issuing new publication licence for the latter.

The Cabinet should take  one step further to remove the restriction on  Harakah and Rocket from sale to the public.

5.  Form a new  Cabinet Committee to end the road carnage

The 14th day of Ops Statik IV  recorded the all-time high of 834 road crashes since the operation began two weeks ago, with another ten fatalities, bringing the death toll in the last two weeks to a shocking figure of 159.

The time has come for the Prime Minister to remove Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik for his continued "hands-off" and "minds-off" indifference as Transport Minister to the mounting death toll, and to appoint someone more responsible to try to break the back of the problem of the road carnage.

One national daily has become so embarrassed by Liong Sikís incompetence and indifference that it has stopped publishing statistics about Ops Statik IV,  which must make it the first national newspaper to refuse  co-operation in a national campaign to raise road safety awareness and save lives - which is a grave act of public irresponsibility!


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman