Rais’ motion against Fong most unreasonable and doubly discriminatory – political and gender – and should be an eye-opener to Malaysians why it is necessary to demand reforms and democratisation of Parliament

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(London, Tuesday): The motion standing in the name of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim against DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan, is most unreasonable and doubly discriminatory – political and gender – and should be an eye-opener to Malaysians why it is necessary to demand reforms and democratisation of Parliament if parliamentary democracy is not to degenerate into a farce.

Rais’ motion is most unreasonable and palpably the act of a bully because he has no intention to allow for a full investigation as to whether Fong had acted in a manner which was clearly a breach or abuse of parliamentary privilege – for if so, then the matter should be referred to the Committee of Privileges for a quasi-judicial inquiry and finding – as is the established parliamentary tradition and convention in all other Commonwealth Parliaments in such cases.

Instead, Rais is only interested in a contest of numbers in Parliament, supremely confident that the brute two-thirds parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional will bring him victory in his game of parliamentary numbers as the BN MPs can even declare black as white and injustice as justice – but this is not just law but the law of the jungle!

Rais’ motion is also unreasonable because he made two false claims that the lawful way which should be acted on by Fong (cara yang sah yang patut dilakukan) was to move a substantive motion under Standing Order 43 to review the Speaker’s motion and not to make “baseless” statements on the Speaker’’s ruling.

Firstly, the Speaker, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail has rendered Standing Order 43 irrelevant, null and void in his 19 years as five-term Speaker as never once before had he allowed a substantive motion under Standing Order 43 to be debated on the floor of Parliament. Zahir should present a report to Parliament on the number of times notices had been given for substantive motions under Standing Order 43 to review the Speaker’s decision – and why there had not been a single time in the past 19 years since 1982 when he was Speaker where permission had been given for such a motion to be debated?

As Standing Order 43 is a dead letter, completely obsolete and meaningless, this reason cannot be used and held against Fong – for it provides no meaningful remedy whatsoever to review the wrong rulings of the Speaker.

Secondly, Fong’s criticisms against the Speaker’s ruling was not “baseless” but sound, objective and fair.

Or is Rais seriously asserting that the Speaker enjoys an immunity which even judges do not have – that his decisions just cannot be criticised, even if the criticisms can be proved to be right, just and fully justified? If so, we are establishing not a parliamentary democracy but a feudal oligarchy.

DAP can make out an iron-clad case that Fong’s criticisms of the Speaker’s ruling to reject her motion of urgent, definite public importance on the Certificate in Practice (CLP) examination marks-tampering was 100 per cent correct and justified.

The Speaker had rejected Fong’s motion on 4th December 2001 on the ground that the DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock had already tried earlier to move a similar motion which was rejected, but the Speaker was wrong as Kerk’s motion was because of the CLP examination paper leak scandal while Fong was referring to a completely different scandal – that of marks-tampering.

In her statement, which is now being used by Rais to suspend her for six months without parliamentary allowances, Fong said the Speaker had abused his discretionary powers in rejecting her motion.

Have the Speaker, Ministers and government leaders developed “egg-shell” reputations which cannot stand up to robust and vigorous criticisms, that they must resort to the brute parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasioal to silence the Opposition?

Rais’ motion is doubly discriminatory against the Opposition and women MPs – as Rais had showed no concern whatsoever when BN MPs abused their parliamentary privileges and dishonoured Parliament by using four-letter words and showed indecent signs – and worse still, against women MPs.

Why has Rais allowed BN men MPs to get away scot-free with such unparliamentary and disgraceful conduct, which were clear abuses of parliamentary privileges – while coming down so harshly and unfairly on Fongt?

Is Rais prepared to commission a public opinion poll as to whom the Malaysian people think more deserving of parliamentary censure and discipline – whether it is Fong or the Barisan Nasional men MPs who used tfour-letter words or showed indecent signs in Parliament?

All women MPs, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alterrnative and DAP should unite to protest against Rais’ motion which is the most palpable form of gender discrimination against a woman MP in Parliament since the 1999 general elections.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman