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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38 Number 8. 1975

Starvation in Baling

Starvation in Baling

Malaysia Special

Some of the 1200 students arrested for Unlawful Assembly.

Some of the 1200 students arrested for Unlawful Assembly.

On the surface Malaysia is a land of plenty, but deep down there is widespread poverty and hardship. The root of these is the presentation of the colonial economic structure in Malaysia whereby the economy is foreign controlled. Even the Malaysian P.M. Tun Razak admitted:

'In 1970 — and the picture today is substantially unchanged — about 60% of the share capital of limited companies was owned by foreigners. In agriculture and fisheries, it was as high as 75% and about 72% in mining and quarrying. In commerce and manufacturing, foreign ownership amounted to about 63% and 59% of the total share capital respectively'. Straits Times, 21-2-74.

It is agreed that Malaysia's economy rests on the tripod of rubber, tin and palm oil but 75% in agriculture and 72% in mining are foreign owned. It is this shocking situation, together with the Malaysian government's policies of providing attractive incentives to foreign capitalists (cheap labour, tax holidays from 2 to 8 years, etc.), that led to the enormous outflow of wealth and leaving the country a pauper. From 1967 to 1971 the total capital outflow amounted to M$3,017 million in the First Malaya Plan. Mr. Edward Heath, former British P.M., proudly announced that British monopoly corporations in Malaysia and Singapore took out M$2.2 million in 1969 alone. Recently it was revealed in the Parliament Debate that total capital outflow would be M$666 million per year. (Sin Chew Yit Poh. 13-4-75). This in turn leaves the country with a national debt of about M$9,000 million (the interest of which amounts to about M$500 million per year, 10% of the total gov't expenditure) and the people in poverty. The situation is getting worse — inflation and falling rubber prices hitting hard especially at the rural people. Typical examples of rural suffering are:

'A farmer, selling rubber at less than 40 cents a kilo, making about $28 a month. Yet he is paying more for rice than he is being paid for rubber, and his family eats twice as much rice as he can produce rubber.................... they were forced, by privation to eat wild yams proved to be poisonous'. (Auckland Star. 13-1-75)

'A wang, the owner of a rubber small-holding in a village in Baling, northern Malaysia ......A wang's earnings averaged M$ 1.20 a day............ Most of A wang's money is spent on rice. Baling is located in a region which does not get rice at the subsidised price of between 45 and 47 cents a catty (l.3lbs.)

'To live at a minimum level of comfort, the smallholder would need $3 a day. To live just above the subsistence level, A wang needs $1.50 daily. He is one of the 545,000 smallholders all over [unclear: Peninsular] Malaysia...........

'Awang had heard of some tenant farmers families in smallholdings who were forced to eat yams and other low-quality foods instead of rice. He had heard too of three four deaths of people who had eaten jungle yams ...' (Far Eastern Economic Review 10-1-75).

Dungeon of Horror
How many tears been shed,
screams supressed,
every minute, every hour
in this dungeon of horror!

How much blood has flowed,
countless broken bones
scattered on this mute floor
in island Singapore.

Its ominously serene.
The air is unclean,
a foul odour hangs about
with no way out.

My mind's eye sees
monstrous faces,
ugly yearnings,
human moanings.

Exulting, these savages
imagine victory it their's.
Hear them laughing?
Wishful thinking!

Every drop of tear,
every clot of blood,
every piece of bone,
never forgotten.

Instead of oblivion
into revolutionary seeds
they are transformed,
now sprouting
into a gigantic force.
They will grow
to wipe out these savages,
and the people will
fear no more.

By Said Zahari who Has been jailed without trial by Lee Kuan Yew since 1963.