DAP Protests against Government disrespect for dignity of Parliament
In four days’ time, on Tuesday, 9th May 1972, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will officially open the Second session of the Third Parliament and deliver his Royal Address from the Throne.
Beginning from 10th May, the Dewan Ra’ayat will begin its business session, which will include consideration, debate and approval of Government bills.
Up to this date, however, members of Parliament have not only not received the Parliamentary order papers, we have not received a single Government Bill which we will be asked to approve.
From past practice, Members of Parliament will be dumped with a mountain of Government Bills on their arrival in parliament on the first day, which they are expected to study, debate and approve within a few days.
This is shocking government practice, and shows utter disrespect for the dignity of Parliament and disregard for the normal and accepted courtesies and decencies of parliamentary practice.
The government policy-makers and draftsmen have taken several months and even a couple of years to prepare the Bills, yet they expect members of Parliament to study and debate not one, but twenty, thirty and sometimes forty Bills, within a few days.
For Alliance members of Parliament, of course, it does not matter even if they are not given a single copy of any Government Bill, for their job is go to Parliament and say ‘Yes’ when directed by the government Whip, regardless of the merits or demerits of the proposals before the House.
My parliamentary colleagues in the DAP, however, take our parliamentary responsibilities seriously, and we protest against this shabby government treatment of MPs, which does not give them ample time to study government Bills, with their far-reaching consequences on the lives of 10 million Malaysians, but also for the government habit of not giving the public time to study and discuss government measures, so that Parliament can debate not only the views of MPs, but also the considered reactions of different cross-sections of the people.
The Government itself insists on a fortnight’s advance notice of questions which members desire to ask in the House. In fact, in practice, MPs have at times to give two months’ notice of questions they wish to ask Ministers in Parliament.
Yet the Government would not give MPs at least two week’s notice and information before each Session on Bills to be debated in Parliament.
This is probably what the Alliance leaders mean when they say that Malaysian parliamentary practice cannot be modeled after Westminster, but must be modifies and tailored to suit Malaysian conditions – meaning the whims and fancies of the Alliance Government.
On behalf of the 13 DAP Members of Parliament, I protest in the strongest possible terms against the Government’s disrespect to members of Parliament, its shabby MPs, and call on the government to change its parliamentary conduct and restore to Parliament its meaningful role as the highest deliberative and legislative chamber in the land, and not as a mere rubber stamp of the Alliance.