1971 Ordinary Budget & National Consultative Council

Statement by DAP Secretary-General and Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference held at 63-D Jalan Sultan, Kuala Lumpur on Monday 7th December 1970 at 11 a.m.

1971 Ordinary Budget

On behalf of the 13-strong DAP Parliamentary group, I shall move a motion of censure against the Finance Minister Tun Tan Siew Sin, if Tun Tan Siew Sin imposes unjust, inequitable and retrograde taxation on December 18 without parliamentary approval.

Dato S.P. Seenivasagam, president of the People’s Progressive Party and leader of the 4-man PPP Parliamentary group, will second the motion.

The Sarawak National Party has indicated through its chairman, Dato Stephen Kalong Ningkan, that its nine MPs will give full support to such a motion.

As this matter involves a vital principle of parliamentary democracy, I hope that the other opposition parties represented in parliament, like the PMIP and the GRM, will also give their full support to the motion.

The opposition parties and the public cannot passively allow Tun Tan Siew Sin to openly flout the fundamental democratic principle of ‘no taxation without representation.’

Only Parliament and the elected representatives of the people have the right to impose new taxes on the people. If Tun Tan Siew Sin and the National Operations Council can impose taxation without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, then we are not having parliamentary democracy but outright dictatorship.

I hope the PMIP and the GRM can join in this united parliamentary opposition front. We must not give in our stand that only Parliament and the elected representatives of the people can approve the 1971 Budget, for we want the Budget debate to hold a grand inquest into the government’s financial stewardship of the country for the past 21 months under Emergency rule.

But both the PMIP and the GRM will have to prove to the people of Malaysia that they are really opposed to Tun Tan Siew Sin’s undemocratic and stubborn refusal to submit the 1971 Budget to Parliament for debate and approval.

For the principle that only elected representatives can approve the new year’s government budget applies not only at the Federal level, but also the state level.

Following the Tun Tan’s announcement that he will present the 9171 Budget to the NOC only without parliamentary debate and approval, many State Governments have announced that they will do the same in presenting the next year’s state budget to the State Operations Council and not to the elected State Assemblies.

I therefore call on the PMIP and the GRM to declare that they are not only opposed to Tun Tan’s undemocratic action in denying Parliament the right to debate and approve the 1971 budget, but will uphold this fundamental democratic principle in the states where they are in power. In other words, that the PMIP-controlled Kelantan government and the GRM-controlled Penang government will present their 1971 budgets to the elected state assemblies for debate and approval.

I do not expect the SUPP leadership to support our motion as they have given an undertaking to vote with the Alliance government in Parliament on national issues.

National Consultative Council

The National Consultative Council is meeting today. The DAP received no official communication about its representation or participation.

But whatever reasons there may be for the existence of the NCC during the early days of the Emergency, there can be no reasons whatever for the continued existence of the NCC with the reconvening of Parliament.

It is incompatible with the principle of the supremacy of Parliament to have another organ, the NCC, exercising powers superior to the elected Parliament, as the NCC can discuss so-called sensitive issues while the popularly-elected representatives cannot.

The NCC is an unrepresentative body, not elected by the people but nominated by the government. It is also a chamber for some defeated Alliance candidates in the last general elections.

A basic issue is also involved here. If the powers, rights and duties of Parliament as the highest legislative and deliberative organ in the land is usurped by the government and NCC, then the people will not have much faith in the democratic process and system.

The biggest task today is to restore the people’s hope and confidence in the democratic process to bring about political, economic and social changes by peaceful means after the dark days of May 13, and the continued existence of the NCC is an obstacle to such a task.

The best thin the NCC can do at its current session is to dissolve itself, as it will show clearly to the people that Malaysia is firmly back to the path of parliamentary democracy.

There may be issues which are better discussed without the glare of publicity, but the place to discuss it is still Parliament, though it may be in closed session. But under no circumstances can we in the DAP support any move which will deny elected representatives of the people the right to raise legitimate grievances and discontents of the people for solution.

There are a few members in the NCC presenting professions who may be able to make positive contributions in deliberations on ways and means to solve national problems. But their place should rightly be in the Senate and not in the NCC.

For democracy’s sake, NCC must go. The DAP calls on all opposition parties to disassociate themselves from the NCC when Parliament is reconvened, or they will lend respectability to an institution which is standing in the way of putting Malaysia back onto the road back to democracy.