Call on Barisan Nasional leadership not to take action against Sothinathan and Devamany for speaking up on my emergency motion yesterday protesting against MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees
Media Conference (2)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Wednesday): After the “high drama” in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, both during the debate in the chamber on my emergency motion protesting against the Malaysian Medical Council’s derecognition of Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) medical degrees as well as after the adjournment in the MPs lounge, a senior Barisan Nasional parliamentarian told me: “You have now succeeded. You want to make us fight and UMNO and MIC MPs are now fighting it out.”
Let me make it very clear that it has never been my intention to get Barisan Nasional MPs to fight among themselves, and what happened yesterday must be viewed in proper perspective with mature judgment.
True, what happened yesterday was unprecedented in Malaysian parliamentary history when party lines blurred with MIC Deputy Minister and MPs standing up with DAP MPs to question the injustice, unfairness and lack of transparency of the MMC in its high-handed and arbitrary decision to suddenly withdraw recognition accorded to CSMU medical degrees only four years ago in 2001 without giving CSMU any grace period to comply with the MMC’s requirements.
If Malaysia is to become a “First World Parliament” and restore public confidence in its relevance and importance as the highest political and legislative chamber in the land, having a material voice and role in shaping and determining national policies and resolving the people’s problems and issues, and not just as a “rubber stamp” of the Executive all these decades, then what happened in Parliament yesterday where there is a blurring of party lines on questions of justice, fair play, accountability and transparency, must happen more often and not less.
There is no better way for Parliament to capture the imagination and confidence of the people than to establish its proper and rightful role as the apex of the system of parliamentary democracy where debates in Parliament matter, whether by government or opposition parliamentarians.
This can only be established if there is a more mature democratic culture in Parliament where MPs, regardless of party, are given space and respect to voice the aspirations and concerns of the people without having to toe a party line on every single issue. Let me state that I have never insisted that DAP MPs must always toe the same line on every single issue and that, for instance, any DAP MP is entitled to speak up in Parliament who feels that the MMC decision on the derecognition of CMSU medical degrees is right, just and proper.
I concede that in the 11th Parliament since the March 2004 general election under the premiership of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, there has been greater outspokenness among the Barisan Nasional MPs, with more criticisms leveled against Ministerial front-benchers which is quite unheard-of in previous Parliaments.
But a parliamentary culture giving space and respect to MPs, regardless of party, to articulate the aspirations and concerns of the people without having to toe a party line on every issue or question has still a long way to go to fully develop in the country.
It cannot escape notice that criticisms of Barisan Nasional MPs seem to be rather selective, focused only on certain Ministers; and secondly, there seems to be an unwritten rule that Barisan Nasional back-bench criticism of front-benchers must be initiated by UMNO MPs, with MCA and MIC being allowed only to play secondary role.
This “Big Brother” rule for Barisan Nasional back-bench criticism of Ministers was broken yesterday, and this explained the strong adverse Barisan Nasional back-bench reaction to the MIC position in Parliament and the “high drama” in Parliament over my emergency motion on the MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees, as the parliamentary culture of allowing MPs to reflect the people’s views without having to toe a party line on every single issue or question is still very superficial if not alien in Malaysia.
I call on the Barisan Nasional leadership not to take action against MIC Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk S. Sothinathan and MIC MP for Cameron Highlands K. Devamany for speaking up on my emergency motion yesterday protesting against MMC derecognition of CSMU medical degrees as I am aware of pressures in this direction.
This is the opportunity for Abdullah to reaffirm that he was really serious when he asked the people to tell him the truth on his appointment as Prime Minister in November 2003, and that this includes allowing Barisan Nasional MPs to freely speak their minds and convey the views of their rakyat, even if it means the blurring of party lines on questions of justice, fair play, accountability and transparency.
* Lim Kit Siang,
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur
and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur
and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman