DAP to invoke parliamentary standing orders to refer Zainal Abidin to Privileges Committee for gross breach of parliamentary privilege in giving a false and misleading answer in Dewan Rakyat on June 16 exonerating MCA members and top leaders from involvement in triad politics
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAP will invoke parliamentary standing orders to refer the Deputy Home Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee for gross breach of parliamentary privilege in giving a false and misleading answer to the Dewan Rakyat on June 16 exonerating MCA members and top leaders from involvement in triad politics.
On June 16, 2003, in an answer to a question by the DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock, Zainal said that the police had found no evidence that MCA members and top leaders were involved in triad politics.
He said that police investigations based on three police reports lodged at the Bukit Mertajam, Klang and Jalan Travers, Kuala Lumpur stations as a result of the allegations by the MCA Youth leader, Datuk Ong Tee Kiat about “black gold politics” in MCA had not yielded any evidence of gangsterism involving the party, its top leaders or members. The three police reports were all lodged by the MCA Team B led by Datuk Seri Lim Ah Lek and Datuk Chan Kong Choy.
Zainal’s answer was clearly misleading, false and untrue when exactly a month later on 16th July 2003, the police publicly issued a nationwide alert for the arrest of the underworld figure “Jackie Chan”, reputed kingpin of the Sio Sam Ong triad and whose real name is Ong King Ee, who was at the relevant period the Chairman of the MCA Gurney Drive Branch in Penang.
Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Othman Talib had told the press that before the police manhunt and public announcement last Wednesday, Jackie Chan had been on the police wanted list for the previous three months in connection with his triad activities (China Press 22.7.03). If Othman was right, how could Zainal tell Parliament on June 16 that no MCA member or leader was linked to triads?
When a Minister or a Deputy Minister answers questions or makes a statement in Parliament, he is not allowed to give his personal views or indulge in any idiosyncrasies as he is making a serious statement on behalf of the government after studied consideration of the subject-matter.
Thus, when Zainal Abidin told Parliament on June 16 that police had found no evidence that MCA members and top leaders were involved in triad politics, the answer could not have come from thin air but must be the result of briefings and even a “model answer” supplied by the Police, after full consultation with the Criminal Investigations Department, together with all relevant information including the case of Jackie Chan, the Sio Sam Ong kingpin and MCA Gurney Drive Branch Chairman being on the police wanted list for a few months because of his association to a triad which is linked to murder, dadah trafficking, kidnapping and robbery.
The Parliamentary Privileges Committee should investigate and ascertain the circumstances for Zainal’s gross breach of parliamentary privilege, whether he deliberately misled Parliament although he was fully briefed about the case of Jackie Chan or whether the police had irresponsibly withheld this important information of triad infiltration of MCA from the Deputy Home Minister – and if so, to recommend the disciplinary action that should be taken against the police officers concerned, who would be guilty of the double misdemeanour of misleading the Deputy Home Minister and Parliament.
In the past, all attempts by the Opposition to refer a Minister or Deputy Minister to the Committee of Privileges for breaches of privileges were killed or stymied by the inability to get such a motion to be given time to be debated in Parliament, let alone for a vote to be taken, as the Barisan Nasional two-thirds parliamentary majority had been misused and abused to trample on all the accepted parliamentary conventions and traditions to allow for such parliamentary motions to be given priority treatment reducing Parliament to a law of the jungle.
The reference of Zainal to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee for giving a false and misleading answer in the Dewan Rakyat on June 16 need not however depend on a parliamentary motion and for time for debate or even for a simple majority to secure its passage.
Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders 26(1)(p) and 80 on raising and referring privileges complaints have been interpreted by the Speaker to have the following three implications:
The reference of Zainal to the Committee of Privileges will fall in all fours under the third route, as although the Deputy Home Minister made the false and misleading statement in Parliament on June 16, it is only after the police nation-wide alert and manhunt for Jackie Chan on July 16 that Zainal’s gross breach of privilege became obvious – at a time when Parliament is not in session.
DAP hopes that the Parliament Speaker, Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail would refer Zainal to the Committee of Privileges on receipt of the DAP complaint under Standing Order 80 on the Deputy Home Minister’s gross breach of parliamentary privilege and that the Committee of Privileges would carry out an in-depth and comprehensive inquiry, as the issue is also related to the question whether the second largest component party of the ruling coalition and the government have been tainted by triad politics and activities.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman