MPs should not give the impression that
their greatest concern is their own comfort and convenience even before any
tangible results could be seen to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a
First World Reform Parliament
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): New Straits Times reported that several Members of Parliament want to revert to the previous arrangement with Parliament sitting only in the afternoon and to scrap the morning sitting.
MPs should be mindful not to give the impression that their greatest concern is their own comfort and convenience even before any tangible results could be seen to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a First World Reform Parliament
It would be most unfortunate if the Malaysian public gets the impression that with more than 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats, and finding the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi more demanding about their parliamentary attendance and therefore less chance to play truant, Barisan Nasional MPs are turning their attention to shorten the daily parliamentary meeting time.
While there may be merit in the argument that Parliament should not meet in the morning, it cannot rank very high in the order of priorities in any agenda for parliamentary reform. Furthermore, it must be subject to two important provisos:
At present, Parliament sits daily for six hours, i.e. from 10 a.m to 1 p.m. and from 2.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. If the morning sitting is to be discontinued, then Parliament should still continue to meet six hours a day, which means going into the night; or alternatively, there should be an increase in the number of days of parliamentary meeting per year to ensure that there is no reduction in the total number of parliamentary meeting hours a year. There is in fact a strong case for the increase in the total number of parliamentary meeting hours per year, independently of whether morning sittings are scrapped or retained.
It would be really ridiculous just to focus on this single issue, as if it is more important than so many other fundamental questions of parliamentary reform and modernization which have been crying out for urgent attention for the past few decades.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman