Tun Tan Siew Sin imposes taxes without Parliamentary approval

Speech by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a Hari Raya Puasa Tea Party organized by Bangsar DAP held at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur at 5.30 p.m.

Notice to move a motion of censure against Tun Tan Siew Sin if he imposes taxes without Parliamentary approval

Despite DAP and widespread public protests, the Finance Minister, Tun Tan Siew Sin, seems bent in his refusal to present the 1971 Ordinary Budget to Parliament for debate and approval. Tun Tan will only present his 1971 Ordinary Budget to National Operations Council on Dec. 18. where he need not justify his financial policies and new taxes to the elected representatives of the people.

Tun Tan must have very strong reasons in wanting to deny Parliament the right to approve 1971 Ordinary Budget. There can be three reasons:

1. He intends to impose a series of new, very heavy and unjust taxes on the people and country, which he could not justify to the Members of Parliament;

2. He feels unable to justify his proposed expenditures for the government for 1971;

3. He wants to prevent Parliament from examining and scrutinizing the government’s use of public funds by every Ministry and government department during the whole period under Emergency rule.

I believe that Tun Tan’s undemocratic decision is motivated by all these three reasons. This means, among other things, that the people of Malaysia must expect the worst in the form of new taxes in the coming Budget.

One of the fundamental principles of parliamentary democracy is that only Parliament can approve new taxes. If the government arbitrarily imposes new taxes without Parliamentary approval, this is a grave blow at the entire concept of the supremacy of the will of the people, as expressed in the Parliament.

The Budget debate is one of the most important functions of the Parliament, for it gives meaning to the principle of strict financial accountability of the government to the nation. In this debate, a public inquest into the financial stewardship of the government for the past year is held, for Members of Parliament can examine, debate and scrutinize not only every Ministerial and departmental estimate of expenditure, but raise complaints, grievances, suggestions and expose the faults, failures and shortcomings of every department and Ministry for the past year.

It is this debate which ensures that the government cannot spent public money anyhow they like, but must annually account to the elected representatives of the people that they have spent public money wisely, otherwise, the Parliament has the right to refuse to approve supply for next year’s expenditure, or to refuse permission to increase taxation.

By presenting the 1971 Ordinary Budget to NOC, Tun Tan is going against the very principle of ‘no taxation without representation.’ The DAP hereby gives notice that if Tun Tan Siew Sin imposes unjust, inequitable and retrograde taxation on Dec. 18 without parliamentary approval, I shall move a motion of censure against Tun Tan Siew Sin for blatantly violating a fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy when Parliament reconvenes.