Committee’s Report to suspend Karpal Singh unparliamentary, biased and
vindictive - undermine efforts for Malaysia to have a First World
Parliament and cause severe setbacks to efforts to eradicate “First World
Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” mindset
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Thursday): The Privileges Committee’s Report to suspend DAP MP for Bukit Glugor Karpal Singh is unparliamentary, biased and vindictive and will undermine efforts for Malaysia to have a First World Parliament and cause severe setbacks to efforts to eradicate the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” mindset.
This morning, at the Palace of Justice, the acquittal of Anwar Ibrahim sends out to the world the signal that Malaysia is trying to be a normal country again, where there is full respect for the rule of law, no abuses of power and the observance of basic decencies.
But the report of the Privileges Committee tabled today will undo such a message to the world, as its unparliamentary, biased and vindictive recommendation to suspend Karpal Singh for “misleading” Parliament on the issue on raising the right hand to take the oath of office of MPs will be telling the world that Malaysia is still not a normal country – with a blatant example of the abuse of power of the nine-tenth parliamentary of the Barisan Nasional against the Opposition.
This report is the first .in the history of Malaysian Parliament and first-world Commonwealth Parliaments which is not signed by all members of the parliamentary committee, carrying only the signature of Datuk Dr. Haji Yusuf bin Haji Yacob, the Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of the Committee of Privileges who acted as chairman of this inquiry with the Committee Chairman and Speaker, Tun Mohd Zahir Ismail, excusing himself from the proceedings as an interested party.
Why wasn’t the signatures of all the committee members sought, as is the convention and practice for all reports of parliamentary committees, whether in Malaysia or other first-world Parliaments?
Why has the DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng, been denied the right to submit her dissent as a minority report?
If such fundamental rights of free speech and expression are also denied to members of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee, what type of an example are we setting to the nation at large about democracy in the country?
Karpal and I were in Kuantan to take part in the national-level 47th National Day Celebrations. At the National Day parade, the tens of thousands of participants, together with the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet, all put up their right hand to take the national “Ikrar” – highlighting the right and proper way of taking a pledge or oath.
If Karpal is punished for raising the question on the propriety of MPs taking their oath without putting up their right hand, it will make a mockery of the whole spirit of the 47th National Day celebrations, as well as making Parliament an international laughing-stock for “making a mountain out of a molehill” of such a minor issue.
For the sake of the good name of Parliament, his premiership and the country, I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give serious personal attention to this matter and to advise against the adoption of the unparliamentary, vindictive and biased report of the Committee of Privileges.
If the Committee of Privileges Report is to be accepted in toto, then it is not just Karpal Singh who will be in the dock, but also the Speaker, Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail. This is because the Speaker’s influence and role is very conspicuous in the entire proceedings against Karpal.
In fact, it will be the occasion for the examination of the Speaker’s role in previous disciplinary proceedings against DAP MPs, such as the DAP MP for Batu Gajah Fong Po Kuan, leading to her six-month suspension without allowance in 2001/2002, Karpal’s expulsion from the House in 1985 and the suspension of the then DAP MP for Sandakan, Fung Ket Wing in 1984.
In such an examination of the Speaker’s role with regard to parliamentary discipline and decorum in the House, one may even be compelled to call for Mohamad Zahir’s resignation as Speaker.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman