Monday’s Parliament is clearly in violation of Article 40 of the Constitution which provides that the Yang di Pertuan Agong, in exercising his functions, shall act in accordance with the advice of the Cabinet.
The Barisan Nasional government is showing utter contempt for Parliament, the Constitution and the Yang di Pertuan agong if it insists on proceeding with such an unconstitutional parliamentary meeting, as someone had been responsible for giving the wrong advice to the Yang di Pertuan Agong to summon Monday’s Parliament when it is completely at odds with the Constitution.
It would be testimony that the Barisan Nasional has no hesitation in flaunting its political hegemony, even to demonstrate that its two-thirds parliamentary majority is mightier than the Constitution and the laws in the land by treating them with utter contempt.
The first act the new tenth Parliament is being asked to do on Monday is none other than to commit statutory rape of the Malaysian Constitution!
I feel very sad for Malaysia in the next five years, for with such a mind-set of the new Barisan Nasional government which shows utter contempt for Parliament, the Constitution and even the Yang di Pertuan Agong, Malaysians cannot expect more justice, freedom, democracy and good governance as there would be even more abuses of power, subversion of the rule of law, corruption and other malpractices.
The DAP and Barisan Alternative will never oppose for opposition’s sake. In fact, I had suggested as to how Monday’s Parliamentary meeting could be regularised so that the election of the new Speaker and the oath-taking by the 193 new MPs could proceed as scheduled.
All that is to be done is for the issue of a new royal proclamation and a new parliamentary notice to MPs for Monday’s Parliament dated after the first Cabinet meeting on Dec. 15 - so that Monday’s Parliament would be summoned in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Why couldn’t such a simple rectification be done to show that the Barisan Nasional government respects the Constitution and upholds the rule of law?
Unless, of course, the Barisan Nasional government’s attitude is that it could do no wrong, that there is no need for such constitutional niceties and proprieties because it exercises real raw power with its political hegemony and two-thirds parliamentary majority intact in the recent general election!
I have also made a proposal as to how Parliament could pass a contingency finance bill to authorise government expenditures for the first six months of next year as the 2000 Budget is unlikely to be passed by Parliament and become law until May or even June next year.
The first day of the meeting of Parliament can only be confined to the election of the Speaker and the oath-taking of the 193 new MPs, and cannot proceed to deal with other parliamentary business, like the contingency finance bill. Parliament, however, can be summoned by the Yang di Pertuan Agong to an emergency meeting beginning on Dec. 21, 1999, to pass such a contingency finance bill, and at least six days should be set aside for debate.
This emergency Parliament, however, cannot deal with any other parliamentary business, whether the election of two Deputy Speakers, appointment of the Selection Committee members, appointment of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee or government bills as they cannot fall under any definition of being urgent as to justify being the subject of an emergency Parliament.
All these ordinary Parliamentary business could only be dealt with after Parliament had been properly summoned in accordance with Dewan Rakyat Standing Order (1) that "the house shall stand adjourned to the date and time fixed by the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di Pertuan Agong" and Standing Order (9)(2)(a) giving MPs 28 days’ notice.
I am surprised to read in today’s Nanyang Siang Pao the statement by Parliament public relations officer Ahmad Asri Zakari claiming that Monday’s Parliament could proceed to deal with the other businesses, like election of two Deputy Speakers, appointment of the Selection Committee members, appointment of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and to debate and pass ordinary government bills. He said Standing Order (9)(2) provides that "in cases of urgency as may be determined by Tuan Yang di Pertua", a shorter than 28-day notice may be given for the convening of parliamentary meetings.
Utusan Malaysia today quoted Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail speaking as Dewan Rakyat Speaker that he had not received any notice on the appointment of the two Deputy Speakers. Zahir said the notice should have been received by Parliament yesterday itself as the Dewan Rakyat is starting its meeting on Monday.
Firstly, there is no Speaker of Dewan Rakyat once Parliament is dissolved on Nov. 11, 1999, and Standing Order (3) made it very clear that "a vacancy in the office of Yang di Pertua" result from from a dissolution of Parliament.
If Zahir is re-elected to a fifth term as Speaker on Monday, he would only resume the Speakership from Monday onwards. The question of his not receiving any notice of candidatures for two Deputy Speakers at this stage therefore does not arise, for he has no locus standi at present to receive any such notice.
This is why Standing Order (4) which sets out the procedure for election of the Speaker provides that it is the Setiausaha Parlimen who will conduct the process of election and not the Speaker of the previous Parliament.
This is also the reason why Parliament public relations officer Ahmad Asri Zakari is wrong when he sought refuge under Standing Order (9)(2) to justify Parliament next week being able to deal with numerous other business although there was no requisite 28-day notice, as there is no Speaker yet to approve such short-fall of notice on grounds of "urgency".
There are many other reasons as well to show that Ahmad Asri does not understand the parliamentary standing orders and even lack rudimentary notions about parliamentary practices and procedures, but I will leave this to another occasion.
Finally, I wish to make it very clear that Barisan Alternative MPs have
not yet taken a decision to boycott Monday’s Parliament or the MPs’ oath-taking
session, as reported by certain mass media.
What I said yesterday was that the 45 Barisan Alternative and PBS MPs should consider boycott of Monday’s Parliament or oath-taking session in protest against BN’s high-handed and arbitrary disregard of the Constitution as its first act in the tenth Parliament.
What the Barisan Alternative MPs would do on Monday would be decided by by them at a pre-council meeting in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.