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Never felt more disgusted in my 32 years as MP

Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Friday) : I have never felt more disgusted in my 32 years as a Member of Parliament. I felt cheated of my right to speak  in Parliament and the people cheated of their rights to have their concerns aired in the highest chamber of the land.

Yesterday morning I told the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that the conflict-of-interest of the MP for Jasin, Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf when he asked the Malacca Customs and Excise Department to “close an eye” involving his company in the illegal import of sawn timber in Malacca will be the centerpiece of the last item of parliamentary business yesterday – as I will be speaking on it during the debate on the motion amending the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.

At about 7 pm yesterday, in a conversation with MCA Deputy President Datuk Chan Kong Choy in the MPs’ lounge in the presence of  Fong Po Kuan (MP for Batu Gajah), Chow Kon Yeow (Tanjong)  and Lim Hock Seng (Bagan), Deputy  Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng said   that there will be another round of criticism  of the Jasin MP in  the motion to amend the Standing Orders.

This is because the motion on the amendment of the Standing Orders provides the opportunity to debate how Parliament manages its business, including the conduct of MPs – where the latest goings-on involving Mohd Said Yusuf can come under direct and intense scrutiny.

This was why Mohd Said Yusuf disappeared from Parliament by the evening.  But he need not have made himself scarce, for Si Cheng did him a great service with a shot-gun end of the meeting at about 8.20 pm by rushing through the motion to amend the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders  moved by Nazri to a vote, without opening it for debate as is the practice.  When DAP MPs stood up to protest that a debate had not been held, he said the vote had already been taken, adjourned the meeting and left the Chamber.

Several DAP MPs were waiting to speak in the debate on the motion, including Chow, Po Kuan, Chong Eng (MP for Bukit Mertajam) and Teresa Kok (Seputeh).

Po Kuan and I went to protest to the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah over the shot-gun end of the parliamentary meeting without any debate on the amendment to the standing orders.

Mohd Said will be very grateful to Si Cheng for saving him from another bout of embarrassment.  UMNO will also be very grateful to Si Cheng for the Mohd Said scandal had been most demoralizing for  UMNO/Barisan Nasional MPs in the past week, leading to the Shahrir Samad imbroglio  as well as casting a  dark cloud  over the 60th UMNO anniversary celebrations in Johore Baru  yesterday.

But this is not the job of a Deputy Speaker – to save the MP for Jasin and UMNO/Barisan Nasional from embarrassment because of their refusal to handle this scandal in a proper manner by referring it to the Committee of Privileges for investigation and recommendation.

The responsibility of the  Parliament Chair is to be fair, impartial and facilitate proper debate of business before Parliament, and not to indulge in any parliamentary sleight-of-hand to save any MP or the ruling coalition parties from embarrassment solely of their own doing.  There can be no excuse for Si Cheng in not opening up the motion for debate, especially when he knew that several DAP MPs  wanted to speak on it.

Si Cheng had done Mohd Said Yusof, UMNO and Barisan Nasional a great service in saving them from embarrassment. But he had done the office of Speaker, Parliament and the National Integrity Plan a great disservice!

 If not for Si Cheng’s shotgun operation, I would have spoken at length in the debate on the motion to amend the Standing Orders as proposed by the Standing Orders Standing Committee, covering three aspects:

  • Mohd Said’s conflict-of-interest breach of privilege;
  • Assessment of parliamentary reform and modernization towards the creation of a First-World Parliament in the 31-month  Abdullah premiership; and
  • The 12 specific proposals to amend the  Standing Orders.

I would have started my speech deploring the sexist misdemeanour of Mohd Said yesterday morning, indulging in irresponsible sexist innuendos, as reported by Malaysiakini’s “Opposition ‘bad character’, says Jasin MP” as follows:

Moving on with his debate, Said claimed many local performers and dancers were ‘soft’ and said the proposed academy should address the issue.

Chong Eng (DAP-Bukit Mertajam) stood up to object and said: “No matter if the performers are hard or soft, fat or slim, pretty or ugly, they deserve basic respect.”

In an apparent sexual innuendo, Said asked Chong in his reply: “I understand what you mean, but you like hard or soft?”

The comment sparked off another round of pandemonium with shouting from both BN and opposition MPs. Lim invoked the standing order and said the remark is sexist and offensive but no action was taken.

I would have called for an  amendment to the Standing Orders to make it a breach of privilege for MPs to indulge in sexist innuendos inside the Chamber, requiring them to be automatically referred to the Committee of Privileges as well as requiring them to attend compulsory gender sensitization courses.

On Mohd Said’s  conflict-of-interest breach of privilege in the illegal import of sawn timber from Indonesia, I would have made the following points or raised the following queries:

  • Usurpation of the powers and privileges of Parliament by the UMNO Supreme Council as Mohd Said claimed that the UMNO Supreme Council had concluded that “there was no case” against him. It is most improper  and simply wrong for issues of parliamentary privilege to be decided by any  political party when they should be decided solely by MPs themselves.
  • The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) report  lodged by DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng in Malacca yesterday morning (report No. 23/2006) against Mohd Said. Guan Eng gave a statement to Malacca ACA Director Haji Idris bin Zaharudddin and another officer Mohd Alizon
  • Whether Mohd Said is charged in court or found guilty of corruption for his conflict-of-interest is a separate issue as to whether he had committed breach of parliamentary privilege, which could only be decided by the Committee of Privileges and Parliament, and reason why Parliament cannot continue to abdicate from its responsibility to  uphold and protect parliamentary  dignity, honour and privilege.
  • Barisan Nasional MPs guilty of “opposition for the sake of opposition” under the BN rule that BN MPs must toe the party line and not free to act according to their conscience in any Opposition motion, whether right or wrong. Such a rule, which undermines the objective to create a First World Parliament,  has made Parliament a laughing stock both nationally and internationally as well being contrary to (i)  the Prime Minister’s slogan  “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang” (ii) “first-class mentality” thrust in the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the  National Mission 2006-2020; (iii)  National Integrity Plan;  (iv)  Rukunegara; and  (v)  Islam Hadhari.
  • The Opposition does not have a similar  rule that Opposition MPs cannot support government motions if it is in the interest of the nation and people
  • As Mohd Said has become the symbol of the government’s  lack of political will to be serious to go beyond sloganeering in its National Integrity Plan, there are only two  honourable  choices to satisfactorily resolve the conflict-of-interest scandal of  the MP for Jasin – reference  to the Committee of Privileges or  Mohd Said’s resignation as MP to be followed by a by-election.


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

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