UMNO having a
taste of their own medicine of unparliamentary majority tactics in
Kelantan State Assembly although this does not make it right
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Tuesday): I have three immediate reactions to the media reports of “kekecohan” in the Kelantan State Assembly yesterday, where the Opposition leader Datuk Mustapha Mohamed and his deputy Datuk Annuar Musa were barred from taking part in the assembly proceedings by the Kelantan State Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah over public comments the duo had made against him in the press:
However, despite these immediate sentiments, I am not paralysed by the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, which often afflicted Barisan Nasional leaders, for the decision of the Kelantan Speaker to unilaterally bar Mustapha and Musa from asking questions or taking part in any debate in the Assembly unless they withdraw and apologise for their earlier remarks disputing his appointment as Speaker runs counter to all parliamentary traditions and conventions - for Musa is right in his protest that the two were being punished even before they were given a chance to be heard.
Furthermore, any punitive action against the Assembly members which tantamount to depriving them of their rights and privileges to fully participate in the Assembly proceedings should only be made by the whole Assembly, and not by the Speaker himself, i.e. by reference of both to the Committee of Privileges with the remit to make recommendations to the whole Assembly.
It is important that nearing half-a-decade of independent nationhood, the greatest respect for parliamentary traditions and conventions should be developed in the Malaysian system of parliamentary democracy, whether at the Parliamentary or State Assembly level, with Members of Parliament and State Assembly members understanding and accepting that on questions of parliamentary privileges, they should rise above party political differences and approach the issues solely from the standpoint of an MP or State Assembly member, so that we can develop a corpus of Malaysian parliamentary traditions and conventions which could set the reference benchmark for developing countries and even developed parliamentary systems.
In the interests of developing and upholding such a corpus of parliamentary and state assembly traditions and conventions transcending partisan considerations, the Kelantan Speaker should terminate his unilateral and arbitrary restrictions imposed on Mustapha and Musa and refer their cases to the Committee of Privileges for examination before forwarding their recommendations to the full Assembly.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman