If for 40 years since Merdeka, there was no need for any time limit in the Penang State Assembly Standing Orders governing debates, why is it necessary now, when there is only one lone Opposition member? Is the Penang State Government thinking of the next general elections when proposing such an undemocratic rule?
It is clear that the proposal to amend the Penang Assembly Standing Orders has two objectives. Firstly, to restrict the freedom of speech of Chong Eng from having adequate time and opportunity to speak up on behalf of the people of Penang, especially as Penang has gone into a social, economic and political decline after the 1995 general elections, swiftly losing its strategic position as the premier state in the northern region.
Secondly, and more important, the amendment to the Standing Orders seems to be aimed to deal with the Assembly situation after the next general elections, as if the Penang state government expect more DAP Assembly members would be elected in the next general elections and it wants to create a fait accompli where they would not have adequate time to speak in the Penang State Assembly as was the case after the 1986 and 1990 general elections.
It is most unfortunate that at a time when the government should be more open, sympathetic and prepared to listen to the views and grievances of the people at a time when the state is going through a general social, economic and political decline, government leaders in Penang are more interested in introducing undemocratic measures into the Penang State Assembly.
Penang had always boasted about "Penang Leads", but if the time limit for Penang State Assembly debates is introduced, Penang would indeed be leading, but it would be setting a lead for other State Assemblies for which no Penangite can feel proud or honoured.
If the Penang State Government uses its overwhelming majority in the State Assembly to impose such an undemocratic time limit on Assembly debates, then the people of Penang must decide in the next general elections whether they want this form of "Penang leadership" in the country or whether it should be repudiated.