Denial of my right to submit my arguments on a Point of Order over my substantive motion to review and overrule the Speaker’s decision rejecting my urgent motion  under S.O. 18 on billions of ringgit of failed PMC and non-PMC government projects is the start of a dangerous “pre-emptive strike” mentality making a mockery of justice, fair play, democracy  and rights of parliamentarians


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Monday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi  yesterday criticized the Australian Government for its refusal to sign the Asean Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), viewing Australia's decision as part of its stated policy of not ruling out pre-emptive strikes in any Asean country to stop terrorist threats.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said Canberra's refusal to sign the TAC was sending a negative signal to countries in the region.

However, such arrogant and negative “pre-emptive strike” mentality has come to the Malaysian Parliament today. 

The denial of my right to submit my arguments on a Point of Order over my substantive motion to review and overrule the Speaker’s decision rejecting my urgent motion  under S.O. 18 on  government accountability  of the billions of ringgit of failed Project Management Consultants (PMC) and non-PMC government projects is the start of a dangerous “pre-emptive strike” mentality in the Malaysian Parliament making a mockery of justice, fair play, democracy  and rights of parliamentarians.


The most elementary notions of justice, fair play and democracy were flouted today when I was denied the right to  present my arguments on a Point of Order, with the Deputy Speaker, Datuk Dr. Yusuf bin Yacob, cutting me off from presenting my case on a Point of Order, claiming that he understood me, as if the Chair had also acquired to powers of “mind-reading” dispensing with the need of the Chair to hear arguments before making a ruling on a Point of Order.


It is most fortunate that the judiciary and the  system of justice have not reached a similar stage where the judges have also developed super human powers of “mind reading” to justify their cutting  off submissions or full submissions on the ground that the bench understood what lawyers wanted to say, or national and international confidence in the system of justice in Malaysia will plunge into an all-time low. 


Fair-minded Members of Parliament and Ministers, particularly those who have grounding in the law like the Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who was in the House at the time, know that it is outrageously wrong to adopt a “pre-emptive strike” mentality to cut off the presentation of arguments for a ruling to be made by the Chair, and it must be stated that the over 91 per cent Barisan Nasional majority in Parliament will become a threat to democracy and a  just Malaysia  if it is going to be used to trample on the most elementary notions of justice and fair play.


What I had wanted to do this morning was to draw the attention of the Chair to the violation of Standing Order 43 on my substantive motion to  review  and overrule the Speaker’s decision last Monday  to reject my urgent motion of definite public importance on the failed Project Management Consultant (PMC) and non-PMC infrastructure projects,  as the Speaker’s role is to facilitate Parliament to carry out its fundamental duty to effectively hold the Government to account and not to assist the government to avoid or evade parliamentary accountability. 


S.O. 43 reads:


“Tuan Yang di Pertua in the House or the Chairman in Committee shall be responsible for the observance of the rules of order in the House and Committee respectively, and his decision on any point of order shall not be open to appeal and shall not be reviewed by the house except upon a substantive motion moved for that purpose. Such a motion shall not require more than two days' notice.”


Although my substantive motion to review and overrule the Speaker’s rejection of my urgent motion last Monday for government accountability for the long list of failed PMC and non-PMC government projects appeared in today’s Order Paper as Motion No. 52, it should take priority over all parliamentary business and should be the first agenda for debate today. 


The Deputy Speaker should have heard me out and then judiciously considered  all my arguments, instead of coming to the House with a preconceived notion with a “pre-emptive strike” mentality to reject whatever arguments I might present, or even refusing to give me the fundamental right to state my case, claiming that he understood what was in my mind!  


I had done considerable homework as I wanted to  submit that under the Standing Order and in accordance with established parliamentary practices,  conventions and traditions in other Commonwealth Parliaments, a substantive motion to review the Speaker’s decision – a rare event in any Parliament – must be given top priority after proper notice had been given under S.O. 43.

I had last Thursday  emailed the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, Dennis Marshall,  in London to seek precedents of practices  in other Commonwealth Parliaments in handling substantive motions to review the Speaker’s decisions.


I have received information from Shem Baldeosingh, Assistant Director (Reference Services), Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Secretariat in London on precedents and practices in the United Kingdom House of Commons and the Australian  Parliament (House of Representatives).


The following is with regard to the UK House of Commons practice: 


On House of Common UK practice:


“In the U.K. House of Commons the conduct of the Speaker (or Deputy Speakers) may only be debated on a substantive motion.   There is no requirement to provide time for such motions to be debated, though a number of such motions have been debated.  The minimum notice required is the rising of the House the previous day though in practice, as such motions are not tabled by the government and may not be seen by the government until they are published the following day, a motion would be unlikely to be debated until at least two days after tabling.”


The CPA was informed of the practice in the Australian Parliament by Ian Harris, Clerk of the Australian House of Representatives, viz:

”We have a similar provision, but with one significant difference, namely that the motion must be moved forthwith, not pursuant to notice.

”We call it a dissent from Speaker's ruling, and our standing orders provide that if any objection is taken to any ruling of the Speaker, it must be taken at once, and a motion of dissent must be submitted in writing, moved and if seconded, proposed and debated forthwith.

"Once the motion of dissent could not gain the support of a seconder, and it lapsed. Another was withdrawn with the leave of the House. Most are negatived, but a few motions of dissent have agreed to. This has not happened for many years. If a ruling has been supported by a vote of the House (that is, by a motion of dissent being negatived), a Member cannot move dissent from the same ruling at another time. Rarely, when motions of dissent are carried by the House, the Speaker cannot repeat the ruling unless the House reverses its decision. My advice to a Speaker from whose ruling a dissent motion looked like being carried by the House was that the carriage of such a motion did not mean that the
Speaker had lost the confidence of the House; the Speaker was, like all Members, subject to the decisions of the House and if the House adopted by resolution a different interpretation than that of the Speaker, the Speaker simply adopted the House resolution in any future relevant rulings.”


It is for the Deputy Speaker to reject these precedents and practices in other Commonwealth Parliaments, and rule that the Malaysian Parliament want to set the precedent for Commonwealth and world Parliaments that despite S.O. 43, there is no way to check the arbitrary and high-handed actions of the Speaker as his ruling or decision cannot in practice be subject to review and any such motion can at most appear on the parliamentary Order Paper.


If this is the ruling that the Deputy Speaker wanted to make, he should at least hear me out first to let me present my full arguments.


I call on the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, to review what happened this morning and to comply with the Standing Order 43 and established parliamentary conventions, practices and precedents in Commonwealth Parliaments and to ensure that my substantive motion is given top priority for debate and decision by the House in tomorrow’s meeting.


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman