(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The current 40-day Parliamentary meeting, whose main business is the passage of the 1998 Budget, is scheduled to end next Thursday on 11th December.
The whole budget debate is scheduled to end next Monday, leaving the remaining three days for the rest of the government business in the Parliamentary Order Paper - which are 16 Government Bills and motions, as three more government bills are being tabled for first reading today, namely Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 1997, Syariah Court Civil Procedure (Federal Territories) Bill 1997 and Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (Amendment) Bill 1997.
Three days are clearly too short for Members of Parliament to do justice to the 16 government bills and motions, let alone seven private member’s motions -six of which are from three DAP MPs, namely DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng and myself, covering important issues like the multiple crisis facing the country, whether economic or environmental as well as international issues like the suppression of the democracy movement and human rights by the military junta in Burma.
Parliament should be extended for another week, from December 15 - 18, so that justice could be done by MPs, whether government or opposition, to the 16 government bills and motions, which include:
It will not be suprising if more government bills are tabled for first reading in these two weeks. Even with extension of the parliamentary sittings every night, the Dewan Rakyat should be extended for another week so that parliamentary proceedings would not be seen as a formality with the Dewan Rakyat no better than a rubber-stamp to enact bills tabled by the government without serious and proper study and debate by MPs.
However, another important reason why Parliament should be extended by another four days is to allow Parliament time to have a special debate on the National Economic Advisory Council, which was announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad after emergency meetings of the UMNO Supreme Council and the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council on Nov. 20-21.
As our system is that of parliamentary government, it is only proper that the establishment of the NEAC should also receive the endorsement of the Malaysian Parliament, so that there could be no future question about its or legitimacy or constitutional propriety. For this reason, the Prime Minister should present a motion in Parliament to secure the proper parliamentary sanction for the establishment of NEAC.
The Prime Minister has still to clarify the legal and constitutional status of the proposed NEAC, as to which one of the following two categories it falls into:
DAP has announced that it is prepared to serve on the NEAC if invited as all Malaysians regardless of party differences must unite as one to tide the country through the present grave economic crisis.
DAP would like to see the NEAC as a nationally productive and constitutionally legitimate response to the national economic crisis, serving as a nationally unifying force to spearhead economic recovery in the country.
This is why Parliament must be asked to approve the establishment of the NEAC. If the Prime Minister does not intend to move a motion to seek Parliamentary approval for NEAC, I would give notice to move such a motion.