Opposition Parliament Leader

Opposition Parliament Leader

When DAP, PPP and SNAP leaders met in Kuala Lumpur early this month, the question of an Opposition Leader in Parliament was discussed. It was agreed by the three parties that the Opposition Parliament Leader should be rotated among the opposition parties represented in Parliament.

We must be very clear in our minds, however, as to the role and function of Opposition Parliament Leader.

With five opposition parties in Parliament, representing in some cases very divergent policies, it is clearly not possible to have an Opposition Leader who can be the Chief Spokesman for all opposition parties on all important national political, economic, educational, cultural and social issues and problems of the day.

For instances, on the great problem of nation building, the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia and the PMIP will not want the DAP to speak on their behalf, nor will the DAP want the PMIP or the Gerakan to speak on its behalf.

The recent opposition boycott of the budget speech is another instance. The Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia and the PMIP, for their own reasons, were not prepared officially to join in the opposition boycott of the budget speech by the DAP, PPP and the SNAP.

The proper role of an Opposition Parliament Leader in Malaysia is a more limited oe of representing the Opposition Parties to allocate fair time for opposition speakers, motions and business with the Government Leader and in facilitating parliamentary proceedings.

It has been suggested that in electing a Leader of the Opposition, it was not sufficient to say that he should come from the party that had the largest representation in Parliament or that he had the majority support from among Opposition members, but must be accepted by the House.

This implies that such an Opposition Leader must be accepted by the Alliance MPs.

The DAP finds such a suggestion completely unacceptable. We hold the view that the election of an Opposition Leader in Parliament is solely the concern of Oppositions MPs, and Alliance and semi-Alliance MPs have no business to be involved. The DAP will have nothing to do with the election of an Opposition Leader who must be chopped with the stamp of Alliance approval, whether directly, by having Alliance MPs to take part in the election, or indirectly, in securing Alliance acceptance.

So that all opposition parties can meet, discuss and reach a decision on the questions of an Opposition Leader in Parliament, I have today written to the PMIP, SNAP, PPP and the Gerakan Ra’ayat Malaysia, proposing a meeting of their parliamentary leaders in Committee Room 3 of Parliament House on February 8, 1971.