Committee majority report of 10-day suspension with apology or six-month
suspension losing all parliamentary allowances and perks - Is Karpal being
punished for his role in securing Anwar Ibrahim’s freedom after six years of
persecution and incarceration?
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The report tabled in Parliament yesterday in the name of the Privileges Committee recommending that DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor, Karpal Singh be suspended for 10 days if he apologises for “misleading” Parliament over the oath-taking ceremony or be suspended for six months and be deprived of his parliamentary allowances and other perks is at most a majority report and not the full report of the Privileges Committee – as it excluded the dissenting report of the Opposition member on the Committee, DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng.
The majority report is a very slipshod, unfair and vindictive piece of work which will undo the landmark Federal Court majority judgment yesterday acquitting Anwar Ibrahim of all sodomy charges and conviction, winning nation-wide and global plaudits not only for the judiciary but also the Abdullah Ahmad Badawi premiership, by again attracting international opprobrium for Malaysia’s system of governance because of its blatant injustice, contempt for fair play and arrogance of power.
The Privileges Committee majority report, which should not have been presented to Parliament without a full report in its entirety, including the minority dissent report of Chong Eng, is full of flaws, such as:
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 the most irregular, improper and unparliamentary presentation of a biased, unfair and vindictive majority report of the Privileges Committee, denying the right to Chong Eng to submit a dissent minority report.
If the majority report of the Committee of Privileges is allowed to be debated and adopted without the benefit of a dissenting minority report, it will not just be Karpal Singh who will be in the dock, but also the Privileges Committee, Parliament itself and in particular, 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 unfair and improper 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.
The question has been raised whether the Privileges Committee majority report of 10-day suspension with apology or six-month suspension losing all parliamentary allowances and perks is a punishment for Karpal for his role in securing Anwar Ibrahim’s freedom after six years of persecution and incarceration, considering that Tun Zahir had been a five-term Speaker during the 22-year premiership of the fifth Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad.
The fair and proper thing to do is for the withdrawal or reference of the Privileges Committee majority report for its fuller reconsideration by the Privileges Committee, bearing in mind that Parliament should be enhancing rather than spoiling the new international image for the country following the landmark Federal Court majority judgment yesterday acquitting Anwar Ibrahim, as well as giving full recognition to the right to publish minority dissenting reports in the Privileges Committee or any other Parliamentary Select Committee.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader,
Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman