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A blot  for 92%-BN dominated 11th  Parliament that  not one  of 199 BN  MPs wanted to debate Standing Orders amendments when at least five  DAP MPs  were prepared to speak on parliamentary reform and modernization  but were  shut out by Deputy Speaker Lim Si Cheng

Media Statement

by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Saturday) : The 34-day Parliamentary meeting, which started with the 11-day debate on the Royal Address, followed by a 16-day debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the passage of nine bills, ended on Thursday on a very sour  and jarring note highlighting  the flaws and dangers of a Parliament which is 92% dominated by Barisan Nasional as abuses of majority power can take place at any time.


The last item of parliamentary business on Thursday, the motion to adopt the proposals of the Standing Order Standing Committee on 12 amendments to the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders, was an important one – as it was the first effort to institutionalize parliamentary reform and modernization after two years of talk about a First World Parliament.


It should have been an important occasion for MPs from both sides of the House to conduct a wide-ranging debate of the yawning gulf between the objective and reality of wanting to have a First World Parliament in keeping with the Prime Minister’s call for the eradication of the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” Malaysian malaise;   the urgent agenda of action that is needed to develop the momentum for parliamentary reform and modernization and  an assessment on the specific proposals for 12 amendments as to whether they are appropriate and adequate as the first step in two years  to achieve the goal of a First World Parliament.


Although the Barisan Nasional dominated Parliament with 199 out of the 219 parliamentary seats, there was not a single BN MP who wanted to speak while there were at least five DAP MPs who wanted to take part in the debate although we have a puny total of 12 MPs!


This made the unprofessional and unparliamentary conduct of Deputy Speaker, Datuk Lim Si Cheng, in his shot-gun disposal of the motion by rushing it to a vote without opening it for debate, a  great disservice in the long hard road to attain the objective of a First World Parliament.


There were of course ample reasons why BN MPs were very nervous and apprehensive about a debate on the motion on amendments to the Standing Orders and would have preferred either to defer the motion to the next Parliamentary meeting  or dispose of it without debate.


One UMNO MP sounded me out earlier in the day whether I would agree to the deferment of the motion to the next parliamentary meeting. I objected as  the Standing Orders Standing Committee had already taken too long a time to bring its first report to the House for debate.


I can understand why the BN MPs were nervous and apprehensive  about the debate on the motion on Standing Orders amendments, which would not have been the case if the debate  had been held one week earlier.


This was because many things had  happened in the past week since the “close one eye” scandal of the MP  for Jasin, Datuk Mohamed Said Yusof exploded in Parliament on May 4, 2006 when I unsuccessfully moved a  motion to refer him to the Committee of Privileges to ascertain whether he had committed any breach of parliamentary privilege when he interceded with the Malacca Customs and Excise Department in connection with the import of illegal sawn timber from Indonesia, in particular:


  • The escalating conflict-of-interest scandal with  Mohamed Said binding  himself tighter and tighter with coils of self-contradictions and new exposes;


  • The Shahrir Samad saga, taking a lone stand among Barisan Nasional MPs to support my privilege motion in Parliament on May 4 and resigning as Chairman of Barisan Nasional BackBenchers’ Club (BNBBC)  in protest at the failure of support from other BN MPs; the resignation as BNBBC Chairman changing character within 24 hours from one of high-principled protest into a self-serving one seeking to avoid greater punishment for breaking BN rule of “no support for Opposition”; the Prime Minister’s veto  of the re-relection of Shahrir as BNBBC Chairman, etc.


  •  The Prime Minister laying down the law 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 - in one stroke, administering multiple major setbacks to fundamental national policies and programmes, including a First World Parliament; the  slogan of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”;  the  “first-class mentality” thrust in the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the National Mission 2006-2020; the  National Integrity Plan; Rukunegara; and Islam Hadhari.
  • Ineffectiveness in the campaign to promote  integrity and combat corruption highlighted by the Mohd Said  case. Mohd Said is a comparatively small fry. If it is so difficult to bring Mohd Said to justice, i.e. the Committee of Privileges in Parliament and the courts for conflict-of-interests, how can any “ikan yu” be nabbed in the country for corruption and abuses of power?


The BN MPs may have many reasons they do not  want to take part in the first debate in the current  Parliament on specific proposals to amend the Standing Orders, but it raises the question as to what is the purpose of electing  92% MPs in Parliament from Barisan Nasional when there is not a single one out of 1999 BN MPs who have any notion about the important subject of the  institutionalization of parliamentary reform and modernization.


Deputy Speaker Lim Si Cheng, who was in the chair, should have gone out of his way to avert embarrassment and shame to the Malaysian Parliament by ensuring that there is seriousness in the debate on the first batch of amendments to parliamentary Standing Orders  in particular and on parliamentary reform and modernization in general – but he not only failed to do so, he compounded his blunder  and went out of his way to deny DAP MPs their right to speak up in the debate with his shot-gun rush for a vote of the motion without putting it up for debate.


Si Cheng succeeded in temporarily staving off embarrassment to the Barisan Nasional  but at the expense of permanent shame and disgrace to Parliament – as this is now a permanent part of the history of the Malaysian Parliament.


It is indeed a   blot  of  the 11th  Parliament when   not one  of 199 BN  MPs in the 92%-BN dominated Parliament  wanted to debate the Standing Orders amendments when at least five  DAP MPs  were prepared to speak on parliamentary reform and modernization but were  shut out by Deputy Speaker Lim Si Cheng. 


This  should be an object lesson to the Malaysian electorate – that it would be more useful for parliamentary democracy, the people’s rights and the national interests to have a stronger Opposition in Parliament  than to give the Barisan Nasional 92% command  of Parliament.


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

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