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Form Select Committee on Parliamentary reform and modernization – but BN rule that BN MPs cannot support Opposition motions regardless of merit and content must go as it runs counter to Malaysian aspiration  to be a first-world knowledge economy


Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Monday) : I am both surprised and disappointed that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on his return from his 10-day trip to the Caribbean and the United States  has upheld the rule that Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs cannot support opposition motions in Parliament -  even if it is to protect the honour and dignity of Parliament or the  integrity, independence and  sovereignty of the nation!


I note that the Prime Minister said that this “is a party (BN) decision and right now we will keep to the decision.”


I call on Abdullah to convene an emergency meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council to scrap such an antidiluvian rule which is completely out of sync with his own commitments and slogan  of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”, “first-class” mentality, “First-World Nation”, Islamic Hadhari and its second   principle  of “trustworthy and just” governance.


Going by the logic of such an antediluvian rule, that neither the government nor opposition is to support the other in Parliament, then  Opposition MPs should have opposed the condolence  motion by the Prime Minister on April 24, 2006 on the demise  of former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Ghafar Baba. 


Opposition MPs, however, had a higher sense of responsibility and we are rightly endorsed the Prime Minister’s condolence motion on Ghafar Baba’s demise, as we are  fully conscious and mindful  that there  are issues in Parliament which must transcend political, party and personal differences as they do not concern party policy or programmes, such as national sovereignty, territorial integrity, parliamentary dignity,   privileges and independence or tributes to departed nationalists  by way of condolence motions.


The Opposition does not have the rule that Opposition MPs cannot support government motions if it is in the interest of the nation and people.


The  BN rule that  BN MPs cannot support Opposition motions regardless of merit and content must be scrapped, as it cannot be regarded as a pure BN issue when it has made the Malaysian Parliament and nation an international laughing-stock, running counter to the national aspiration for Malaysia to be a first-world knowledge economy with a “first-class mentality”.


It is most shameful to continue to have such an antediluvian rule as it is as good as a proclamation of the  inability  of the Malaysian Parliament and the 92% Barisan Nasional parliamentary membership to make the basic distinction between right and wrong – which should be the first lesson to all children in schools - despite the introduction of civilisational Islam, Islam Hadhari!


The second issue the Prime Minister should should focus on is his favourite subject – integrity.  Shahrir appears to be  the only one out  of the 199 Barisan Nasional MPs who is serious about the Prime Minister’s commitment on integrity. In explaining why he had supported my privilege motion last Thursday, Shahrir said:


“All this while the Opposition had been criticising the BN MPs saying that we are not serious about corruption and integrity. That we are of third class mentality and don’t walk the talk. I felt that if we reject the motion, we are giving another issue to the Opposition to pick on.”


The Malaysian Parliament will be telling the nation and the world that it also  cannot distinguish between right and wrong if we refuse to refer the Jasin MP Datuk Mohd Said Yusof  to the Committee of Privileges for investigation and recommendation into a very serious allegation impinging not only on his integrity as MP but also on the dignity and reputation of Parliament as an institution.


The third issue is the proposal for a Select Committee on guidelines on MPs’ conduct when dealing with members of the civil service.


When Shahrir brought up this subject in his meeting with Najib, it was discussed in the context of BN MPs. It would be quite ridiculous to have a parliamentary select committee confined to issues affecting only  BN MPs.


What is needed is not just a review of relations between MPs and civil servants, but the whole question of MPs’ role and responsibilities  in a First World Parliament.


For this reason, a Parliamentary Select Committee on parliamentary reform and modernization should be set up, whose terms of reference would include the subject-matter of the proper relationship between MPs and civil servants.


The Cabinet meeting on Wednesday should give serious consideration and “green light” for such a Select Committee on parliamentary reform and modernization, so that it could be formally established on the last day of the current meeting of Parliament on Thursday.


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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