(Penang, Friday): The
time has come for the Speaker, Tun Zahir Mohamad Zahir to resign as Speaker of
Parliament to end his capricious and arbitrary decision-making and subservience
to Ministers undermining Parliament from meaningfully performing its triple
functions to legislate, deliberate and hold the government to account.
of the greatest blots of Zahir’s five-term Speakership was his role in the
ignominous six-month suspension of young woman DAP Member of Parliament Fong Po
Kuan without parliamentary allowance for speaking up against the injustices of
the Certificate in Legal Practice (CLP) examinations scandals, completely
against the rules of natural justice and all accepted parliamentary traditions
short two-week Dewan Rakyat meeting which ended yesterday has
given more instances to show that Zahir has become a big stumbling block to a root-and-branch reform of Parliament to revitalize and
restore a strong Parliament to
ensure genuine representative democracy and a good and accountable government in
have nothing personal against Tun Zahir, having worked with him for more than 17
years in Parliament from 1982 to 1999. Tun
Zahir has in fact just completed his 20th year as Speaker of
Parliament on 14th June, the longest-serving of six Speakers in the
history of Malaysian Parliament. The previous longest-serving Speaker was the third Parliament
Speaker, Tan Sri Chok Mohamad Yusuf bin Sheikh Abdul Rahman (25.11.1964 –
have no objection whatsoever if Tun Zahir continues to complete his fifth term
as Speaker until the 11th general election of the country is held, so
long as he is fully conscious of the crisis of confidence faced by Parliament
because of its failure to perform
its three most important functions, to legislate, to deliberate and to hold the
government to account in an effective and
when Tun Zahir is not only oblivious
to the national crisis of
confidence in Parliament but worse, continue in his two-decade role to
help oversee the relentless decline,
denigration and emasculation of the function
of Parliament by an overbearing Executive, then the time has come for him
to vacate his office for a
new Speaker more attuned with the
aspirations of the times in wanting Parliament restored as a place where the
Executive is held properly to account by Members of Parliament, where Parliament is not a “rubber-stamp” of the Executive and
where the terms of trade between the Government and Parliament are shifted back
in favour of the elected
representatives of the people.
failure of the Speaker to announce the appointment of the new Parliamentary
Opposition Leader before the adjournment of Parliament and its postponement till
September is inexcusable and reflects contempt for the Opposition.
said on Tuesday that there could be no reason why the new Opposition
Leader to replace PAS President Datuk Fadzil Noor could not be formally
appointed and announced in Parliament latest by the last sitting yesterday, as
Fadzil Nor had died on Sunday and by Wednesday, all the Opposition MPs had
agreed to the new Opposition Leader.
Would Zahir be so lackadaisical, indifferent and bureaucratic if
the post to be filled is the Government Chief Whip and not the Opposition
Leader? Would anyone imagine that
he would have postponed the announcement of a new Government Chief Whip in the
same circumstances to the next Parliamentary meeting in September, and if not,
why the double standards in the case of the appointment of Parliamentary
of the examples of Zahir’s capricious and arbitrary decision-making and
subservience to Ministers in the just-concluded eight-day Dewan Rakyat meeting
are as follows:
failure to explain why he approved
the urgent motion of PAS MP for Pokok Sena, Mahfuz Omar to debate the issue of
non-Malay quota in matriculation courses and MARA colleges, but rejected the
urgent motion of the DAP MP for Tanjong, Chow Kon Yeow to debate the Suhakam
Annual Report 2001.
In the 21st century era of openness, transparency and good governance, no person including the Speaker of Parliament can hide behind traditional immunities like parliamentary privilege to justify unaccountability but owes an active duty to explain to the Malaysian citizenry the reasons for his decision in refusing to allow a parliamentary debate on the Suhakam Report in connection with the important cause to protect and promote human rights.
On Monday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim made the shocking revelation that Cabinet
Ministers and parliamentary secretaries spend more than half a million ringgit
of the taxpayers’ money as entertainment allowances when finally
replying to the persistent questioning by the DAP Secretary-General and
MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock.
In the previous Parliamentary meeting in March, Zahir arbitrarily gave approval to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department not to answer the question “on the ground of public interest”, and Rais’ answer on Monday had only highlighted that the Speaker had acted irresponsibly in giving baseless and capricious approval in March to the government not to reveal the gargantuan entertainment allowances given to Ministers and parliamentary secretaries completely without parliamentary sanction.
Did Rais and Zahir feel that in the highly-charged emotional atmosphere in the country following the dramatic “resignation” announcement by Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad last Saturday, the public would have no interest or attention-span to scrutinize or respond to the shocking revelations about the secret gargantuan entertainment allowances, ranging from over RM27,000 a month for the Prime Minister, RM22,000 for Deputy Prime Minister, RM16,000 for Cabinet Ministers, RM6,000 for Deputy Ministers, RM4,200 for parliamentary secretaries, RM3,300 for political secretaries, which are not inclusive of their monthly allowances and other perks like housing allowances – which only made Zahir’s “flip-flop” decision even more capricious and untenable.
answer given by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department,
Douglas Uggah Embas the previous Thursday that the Prime Minister spent more
than RM12 million since 2,000 for his official and unofficial overseas trips,
viz: RM2.6 million for 16 overseas trips in 2000; RM1.8 million for 14 overseas
trips in 2001 and RM8.6 million for 16 overseas trips for the first six months
until 13th June this year. The
Speaker gave the Deputy Minister permission to provide details of the
costs of each overseas trips to Parliament in writing, which is a most
irresponsible delaying tactic when the
public has the right to know their full
details without any undue delay.
It was fortunate that the DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, had a question yesterday that the country now knows that Mahathir’s trip to the Antartica had cost the taxpayers the enormous sum of RM878,054.60, when the people were given the impression that this was largely a private holiday trip and visit by Mahathir’s contingent, funded by private sponsors!
Speaker’s role in the steamrolling of the Islamic Banking Bill in the Dewan
Rakyat yesterday, when Standing Order 90 was invoked to take the bill through
all three readings in a one-shot operation all on the same day without prior
notice to MPs – and without proper justification or acceptable reason.
disgraceful Parliamentary homepage, www.parlimen.gov.my,
which continues to be most deserving of the prize for the most user-unfriendly,
inaccessible, uninformative and
useless website among the world’s
Parliaments and Malaysia’s public websites – despite complaints for six