Appointment with Abdullah to set a common agenda for the 11th Parliament to play pivotal leadership role to end the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” by making it a Reform Parliament to spearhead the nation’s full entry into first-world status
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): I thank the DAP Central Executive Committee for its confidence in its unanimous decision last night to entrust me with the onerous responsibility as the Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
Although the DAP has the biggest opposition group in the new Parliament, i.e. 12 out of 21 Opposition MPs, when I assume the responsibility, I do not regard myself as the Parliamentary Opposition Leader only of the DAP voters and supporters but of all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, territory or political affiliation.
Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 4A (3) and (4) states:
“(3) The Leader of the Opposition means, in relation to the House, that member of the House who is presently the Leader of the group in Opposition.
“(4) If any doubt or dispute arises as to who is or has been the Leader of the Opposition at any material time, the question shall be decided by Tuan Yang di-Pertua and his decision which is certified in writing under his hand shall be final and conclusive.”
I am seeking an appointment with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to set a common agenda for the 11th Parliament to play a pivotal leadership role to end the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” by making it a Reform Parliament to spearhead the nation’s full entry into first-world status in the era of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technologies. Malaysia had a “first-world” Parliament Building for over four decades since 1962 but had never had a first-world Parliamentary institution and culture.
The parliamentary opposition is prepared to fully co-operate with Abdullah to deliver his pledge of a clean, incorruptible, efficient, trustworthy and people-oriented government which wants to hear the truth, but will pull no punches to criticize the flaws and failings of the administration to live up to its general election pledge of “Cemerlang, Gemilang, Terbilang”, especially where it is turned into “Temberang”.
In his maiden official speech in Parliament as the fifth Prime Minister on Nov. 3, 2003, Abdullah pledged to fully respect parliamentary democracy and the separation of powers between the executive, legislature and the judiciary.
Parliament should be the first institution in the country to restore public confidence and to uphold the doctrine of separation of powers with far-reaching parliamentary reforms to make it a meaningful and effective national legislature and the highest political forum in the land.
In the past two decades, Parliament’s stocks have never been lower as it has been reduced to be a mere rubber-stamp of the Executive, with Members of Parliament, whether government or opposition, denied of any meaningful role in the various stages of legislation and policy-making – undermining and damaging the delicate checks and balances vital to the healthy growth of a mature democracy and a vibrant civil society, as envisaged by Vision 2020.
As compared to other Commonwealth Parliaments, the Malaysian Parliament missed decades of parliamentary reforms to make Parliament a meaningful, relevant and effective national legislature such as with innovations like the establishment of specialist standing committees to allow MPs to specialise as well as having a greater say in the nation’s decision-making process. In Malaysia, the principle of Cabinet responsibility to Parliament has been completely subverted into Parliamentary responsibility to the Cabinet!
The time has come for the Malaysian Parliament to make up for the lost decades for the government and opposition to work together in the national interest to introduce wide-ranging reforms of parliamentary practices and procedures to transform the Malaysian Parliament from a nineteenth-century institution into a millennium Parliament, with reforms such as:
The DAP, and I believe the general parliamentary opposition as well, extends the fullest co-operation to Abdullah and the Barisan Nasional government to fully restore Parliament’s role as the highest custodian of government public accountability and not continue to be a toothless, obsolete and ineffective rubber-stamp of the Executive, and to make the 11th Parliament a model of a consultative, reform-minded and creative Parliament for the Non-Aligned Movement (as Malaysia is the current Chair of the largest international organization of nations after the United Nations for three years).
I hope to meet the other nine Opposition MPs, including the seven PAS MPs and Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, President of Keadilan and MP for Permatang Pauh, as well as the DAP MPs within a fortnight to discuss the challenge of making the 11th Parliament a Reform Parliament to usher in a “First World Infrastructure, First World Mentality” in Malaysia.
DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, who has been appointed Secretary of the DAP parliamentary caucus last night, would be organising such a meeting of Opposition MPs.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman & Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor