Tsu Koon should strongly  protest against  Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs for helping  to kill my motion on five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act 1997 in Parliament in  the past two days

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Wednesday): Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon should lodge a strong protest against  Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs  who had helped to kill my motion on a private memberís bill on five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act 1997 in Parliament in the past two days.

When Parliament met on Monday, 18th October 1999, my motion on a private memberís bill on five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act 1997 would have been the first item of parliamentary business after the one-hour question time if the Barisan Nasional government had been "gentleman" and played by the parliamentary rules.

Although the Government moved the Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill for first reading on Monday morning, this Bill could not be debated as Parliamentary Standing Order 48 requires a Minister to give at least one dayís notice before a Bill could be tabled for second reading and debate.  This means that the earliest the  Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill could be  debated in Parliament  was on the second sitting on Oct. 19, 1999.

Without any bill or government business to be transacted, Parliament would move on to the 19 private memberís motions - all moved by Opposition MPs -  for which notice had been given and are on the Order Paper.

The first six motions stand in the name of the PAS Deputy President and MP for Marang, Haji Hadi Abdul Awang, proposing among other things, death penalty for apostasy for Muslims.

Hadi had been absent from Parliament for the first two days of the Parliamentary meeting, which means that the seventh private memberís motion, which is my motion on a private memberís bill for a five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act 1997, would become the first item of parliamentary business and the hopes and prayers of 60,000 people in Penang who are adversely affected by the decontrol of pre-war premises on Dec. 31, 1999 that they could relief from Parliament would be answered.

However, their hopes were dashed  and the trust they had placed on MPs betrayed when the Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs got the help from UMNO to misuse the five-sixth Barisan Nasional majority to "sabotage" the parliamentary Standing Orders to "kill" my motion by a two-prong strategy.

The first prong of the "sabotage" strategy was  to suspend Standing Order 48 so that the Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill is allowed to be debated on Monday although it had not complied with the 24-hour notice requirement.

This is a gross abuse of the Barisan Nasionalís five-sixth majority in Parliament for there was no good or proper  reason for the suspension of  the standing order.  No extraordinary emergency as the loss of lives or property would be caused if the  Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was debated 24 hours later in accordance with the parliamentary standing order.

The sole purpose of the suspension of parliamentary standing order was to "kill" opposition motions, which is a completely unacceptable reason and a gross abuse of Barisanís overwhelming parliamentary majority.

The second prong strategy to "kill" my motion for a five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act was  to get all the Barisan MPs to waste the time of Parliament for two full days. Normally, the debate on the eight-paragraph Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill would not take more than half a day, but as the government had no official business until the third day of Parliament, i.e. today, my motion on the five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act would still be able to come up in Parliament for debate if the Sale of Drugs (Amendment) Bill was  passed any time on Monday or Tuesday.

This was why the Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs were engaged in the disgraceful spectacle of dragging out and wasting time for the two  full Parliamentary sittings on Monday and Tuesday.

Yesterday, the Deputy Health Minister, Datuk Rastam Ali took the whole day of five hours just to wind up the debate, which is completely unheard-of in Malaysian parliamentary history.  Even the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister or Finance Minister had never taken five hours for winding up even more important debates.

Rastam took  five hours to wind up the debate because he conspired with Barisan MPs by allowing them to make long-winded multiple speeches, under the pretext of seeking clarification, on totally irrelevant subjects - which were not only a complete breach of parliamentary conventions and practices, but also debase the dignity of Parliament with Barisan Nasional MPs indulging in tasteless references loaded with sexist connotations in their preoccupation with subjects like  aphrodisiacs, whether Viagra, Tongkat Ali, durian, brandy, etc.

During my protest yesterday in the House over the time-wasting by Barisan Nasional MPs, I had noted that Sarawak was famous in the last  state general election because of the "Angel, Tiger and Dog" episode, but the Dewan Rakyat yesterday degenerated into a Dewan for "Angel, Tiger and Dog",  which is most disgraceful.

What is most contemptible is a MCA MP had tried to justify the two-day time-wasting in Parliament, that it was designed to prevent Hadiís motion on death sentence for apostasy for Muslims from being debated in the House.

These are lame  excuses which cannot cover up the parliamentary irresponsibility of MCA MPs in denying the opportunity for the 60,000 people in Penang affected by repeal of Rent Control Act to have their voice heard in Parliament. DAP had already made it clear, both  before the parliamentary meeting and inside the House yesterday, that  the DAP would vote against any such  PAS proposal in Parliament. Furthermore, Hadi was absent from Parliament in the last two days, and there was no way that Hadiís motions would come up for debate at all.

As Tsu Koon had officially appealed to the Prime Minister and the Federal Government to extend the Rent Control (Repeal) Act, he should condemn the irresponsible parliamentary antics of Gerakan and MCA Ministers and MPs in the last two days  for sabotaging my motion for five-year extension of the Rent Control (Repeal) Act and demand that they should all make public apologies to the 60,000 tenants of pre-war premises for betraying their trust and stifling their rights to have their voice, hopes and appeals  heard in Parliament.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong