Statement by DAP Secretary-General, Mr. Lim Kit Siang, at a press conference in Ipoh on Monday, 27th March 1972 at 11 a.m.
DAP opposes proposed curb on adjournment speeches in Parliament as being further gag on opposition MPs
The Government ‘s proposal to ban adjournment speeches in Parliament during the budget meeting and the meeting for the debate on the Royal Address is a further step by the government to curb and gag Opposition MPs from raising the grievances of the people in Parliament.
The argument for the ban on adjournment speeches during the budget session and the Royal Speech debate session is that at both these meetings, Members could bring up any subject pertaining to the Government.
In theory this is so, but in practice, it does not work at all. In Parliament, the majority of the opposition MPs could not get the chance, either during the budget session or the debate on the Royal Address, to take part in the debate, let alone getting the chance to air grievances of the people.
The Government should be more concerned to make Parliament more meaningful by finding out ways to allow as many MPs as possible to air the views and grievances of the people, instead of further curbing and gagging Opposition MPs.
Already, the Government has removed the parliamentary immunity of MPs, so that Members of Parliament cannot speak out freely and frankly on behalf of the people.
Members of Parliament, particularly from the Opposition, find it impossible to get fair time to speak in Parliament, and adjournment speeches is the only parliamentary device to give them a chance to raise the people’s grievances. If adjournment speeches are banned during the two major parliamentary sessions – the budget session and the royal address session – then this will further reduce the effectiveness and credibility of Members of Parliament.
The banning of adjournment speeches is only entertainable if the two conditions are fulfilled: (1) Parliamentary time each day is extended from the present 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. so that there are more parliamentary hours a day to give full meaning to Parliament as the highest deliberative chamber of the land; (2) Devise a system whereby not only leaders of Opposition parties can get an opportunity to speak, but Opposition back-benchers can also get opportunities to speak.
My colleague, the DAP Member of Parliament for Sitiawan, Sdr. Richard Ho, who sits on the Dewan Ra’ayat Standing Orders Committee, has reported to me about the meeting of the Standing Orders Committee which decided to propose banning adjournment speeches during budget session and the royal speech debate. Sdr. Richard Ho presented the views as outlined above, and it is unfortunate that the government is proceeding with the proposal to ban adjournment speeches without making alternative provisions to ensure that Opposition MPs, in particular opposition backbenchers, get fair chance to take part in Parliamentary debates.
At the last meeting of Parliament, for instance, about 40 bills, affecting the lives of 10 million Malaysians, were steamrolled through without adequate debate. Not only were bills steamrolled through, even the Budget 1972 was steamrolled through. Thus, there was no debate at all on the $200 million allocations for the Ministry of National and Rural Development.
At the last session of Parliament, I submitted three motions, on the question of elected local government, the plight of the 900000 new villagers, and the anti-labour laws of the country, but none was given time for debate.
The DAP will oppose the proposal to ban adjournment speeches in Parliament during budget session and the Royal speech session, for it is the latest in a series of making Parliament a more rubber stamp, and not the highest legislative and deliberatively chamber.
We urge other Opposition parties represented in Parliament to take a united stand to oppose this undemocratic and unfair step to curb and restrict the right of MPs in Parliament.