Speech by DAP National Publicity Secretary, DAP Perak State Assemblyman for Gopeng and DAP Whip in the Perak State Assembly, P.Patto, when moving his substantive motion to review the Speaker’s decision on 13hb Disember 1976.
Before I proceed to move my substantive motion which I had given notice of .to The Speaker on 16.12.76, I propose that the Speaker of the House should exercise his powers under the State Assembly Standing Orders No. 6(3) which reads:
“Mr, Speaker may at any time during a sitting ask a member to take the Chair temporarily, without formal communication to the Assembly, and such member shall be invested with all the powers of Mr. Speaker, until Mr. Speaker returns.”
This would ensure that the Speaker who is the subject of debate in my motion does not take upon himself the duties of a Judge whilst at the same time he is the ‘accused’.
If Mr. Speaker chooses to insist that he should remain as the Speaker during the debate of this motion, then I should state here frankly that Mr. Speaker would go down into the history of the ‘law of natural justice’ that he is the first Speaker in this state to sit as a Judge and accused at one and same time. But, if the Speaker insists still that he should continue to sit as Mr. Speaker, I have no alternative but to put on record my opinion that such a move is unwise.
How can one sit as a judge and try his own case?
I rise to move my substantive motion for which notice has been given to Mr. Speaker in accordance with Assembly Standing Order 43 and which reads as follows:
“THAT this House expressing its disatisfaction with the most undemocratic and unfair ruling of Mr. Speaker on 13th December 1976 in not allowing the Member for Jalong, Mr. Ngan Siong Hing, on that day, to rise in his place at the appointed time under Standing Order 13(1)(h) of this House and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, inspite of the fact that the State Legal Adviser, Datuk Eusoffe Chin, had opined on that day that under Standing Order 17(1) of the Assembly, the member concerned can rise in his place at the time appointed and ask leave;
That this House REVIEWS the decision by Mr. Speaker on 13th December 1976 to refuse to call upon the Member for Jalong, Mr, Ngan Siong Hing, to rise in his place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly and hereby, the House DIRECTS Mr. Speaker to abide by the practice of Parliamentary procedure adopted by the Malaysian Parliament by calling upon the Member for Jalong, Mr. Ngan Siong Hing, to rise in his place at the time appointed under Standing Order 13(1)(h) and seek leave to move his motion of a definite matter of urgent public importance, i.e. over the question of the legality and constitutionality of the holding of office as Menteri Besar of Perak by Tan Sri Ghazali Jawi.”
On 13th December 1976, Mr. Speaker failed to abide by the Assembly Standing Order No. 17(1) which requires Mr. Speaker to call upon or allow the Member for Jalong, Mr. Ngan Siong Hing, to rise in his place at the time appointed under Standing Order 13(1)(h) and seek leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance.
On that day, we in the DAP had tried our best to get Mr. Speaker to conform to the norms and practices of Parliamentary procedure adopted by the Malaysian Parliament for many, many years.
My colleague, Mr. Ngan Siong Hing, had given notice to move such motion in accordance with Assembly Standing Order 17(1) which is similar to the Standing Order of Parliament No, 18(1).
Assembly Standing Order 17(1) states:
“Any member may at the time appointed under Standing Order 13 rise in his place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.”
The Dewan Rakyat (Parliament) Standing Orders No. 18(1) reads:
“Any member other than a member of the Government may at the time appointed under Standing Order 14 rise in his place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.”
Both these Orders have been worded exactly the same except for the additional words “other than a member of the Government” appearing in the Dewan Rakyat Order.
I had read out these orders on that day and had also pointed out to Mr. Speaker that the Dewan Rakyat with a similar Order allows the member concerned who has given prior notice to move a motion in accordance with Standing Order 18(1) to rise in his place and seek leave to move the adjournment of the House to discuss that definite matter of urgent public importance which he has cited in his motion.
And in the Dewan Rakyat, the member concerned is allowed to also read out his motion so that the House could know the purpose of the leave seeked.
Mr. Speaker had been stubborn on this matter and had refused bluntly my request that my colleague from Jalong be allowed to rise and read his motion.
When the Opposition Leader, Sdr. Daing Ibrahim, requested the State Legal Adviser to give his opinion on Assembly Standing Order 17(1), the State Legal Adviser rose and said that the member ‘may rise in his place and seek leave’.
The opinion of the State Legal adviser was completely ignored by Mr. Speaker. He insisted that he shall not allow Mr. Ngan Siong Hing to read his motion and neither will he allow Mr. Ngan to rise in his place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly.
On a second occasion after reading out Assembly Standing Order 17(1) and the Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 18(1), I asked for the opinion of the State Legal Adviser as to whether it would not be proper for the State Legislative Assembly to accept and conform to practices of Parliamentary procedure adopted by the Malaysian Parliament and in this case relating to the right of a member to rise in his place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.
The State Legal Advisor requested that he be given 5 minutes to study the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders and also two copies of the Dewan Rakyat Hansard containing occasions when motions of the above nature have been allowed to be read out at the time appointed in the Standing Order of the Dewan Rakyat.
Mr. Speaker, in my opinion, had deliberately asked the Clerk at the Table in the Assembly to proceed to the next business after having been signalled by the Menteri Besar to continue with the next business.
Ihad protested against the Speaker’s decision to move on to the neat business and had asked Mr, Speaker to adjourn the Assembly for five minutes so that the State Legal Adviser could read the Parliament Standing Orders and the relevant Hansards and give his opinion.
Mr. Speaker showed utter disregard to that request and went ahead with the business in the Order Paper for the day. I had made such a request twice but Mr. Speaker had continuously ignored.
Mr. Speaker had completely shown disrespect to the State Legal Adviser by refusing to adjourn the Assembly for five minutes to allow him to consider and give his opinion on that matter.
It was on that matter that we in the DAP had to walkout of the Assembly on that day.
It is clear from this that Mr. Speaker had acted wrongly and had not conformed to the norms and practices of Parliamentary procedure adopted by our own Parliament.
Mr. Speaker had also, on several other occasions during his term of office, erred in interpreting Assembly Standing Order 17(1) to mean that the member who had given prior notice to Mr. Speakertto ask for leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance shall have no right to rise in his place at the appointed time i.e. under Standing Order 13(1)(h) which follows immediately after Question Time.
Ever since Mr. Speaker took office after the convening of the Assembly following the last General Elections, he had faced with such motions no less than seven times – on 15.4.75
(Motion submitted by Member for Gopeng, P.Patto); 30.7.75 (motion submitted by Member for Gopeng, P.Patto); 31.7.75 (Motion submitted by Member for Gopeng, P.Patto); 28.11.75 (Motion -submitted by Member for Jalong Ngan Siong Hing ); 2.12.75 (Motion submitted by Member for Gopeng, P.Patto); 7.12.76 (Motion submitted by Member for Gopeng P.Patto); and 13.12.76 (Motion submitted by Member for Jalong, Ngan Siong Hing).
And on all these occasions Mr. Speaker had never called upon these members concerned to rise in their place and ask leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly. Neither did Mr. Speaker allow these members to rise in their places at the appointed time and read out their motions on their own.
One may wonder why the DAP had not brought up this matter earlier since Mr. Speaker had been interpreting the Order wrongly since 15.4.75.
We in the DAP had thought that with political veterans with 30 years’ experinece sitting on the Government side and holding responsible positions in the Assembly as ‘Leader of the House’ and ‘Chief Whip’ of the ruling Party who have been in the Parliamentary Parliamentary game since 1955 and both of then having been former Members of Parliament for more than two terms, they would have corrected such glaring misinterpretations.
But, alas, they have not done so. I would venture to say that they have been ignorant of such Parliamentary practices.
That is why, we in the DAP who have been termed as “youthful teenagers” in this House by one of the two ‘ignorant veterans’, have taken upon ourselves the task to correct wherever glaring mistakes are done.
From this, it could be assumed that it is the 30-year experienced ‘ignorant Veterans’ of politics who need lectures on Parliamentary practices and procedures, Not we in the DAP.
On all the seven occasions mentioned, Speaker had not allowed the matters concerned to be raised under the right Assembly Standing Order, i.e. Standing Order 13(1)(h).
He had refused to follow the Order of Business as stipulated in the Assembly Standing Order 13(1).
Mr. Speaker had always taken upon himself the task to treat the motions moved under Standing Order 17(1) very lightly. On all seven occasions, Mr. Speaker had used the wrong Standing Order to give his decision on tha matters raised, i.e. the motions under Standing Order 17(1).
He had always used Standing Order13(1)(e) to give his decison on the motions. This is grossly wrong as there are provisions in the Assembly Standing Order to raise such motions, i.e. under Standing Order 13(1)(h) which is immediately after Question Time.
I do not know why Mr. Speaker chose to ignore that Order.
Parliament had always given due respect to a similar Order there (Dewan Rakyat Standing Order 14(1)(h). The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat always respected this Order.
Why was it not done so in this House by Mr. Speaker?
By using Standing Order 13(1)(e) to deal with matters pertaining to Standing Order 17(1) of the Assembly, Mr. Speaker had completely ignored the practices of our own Parliamentary procedure adopted by the Dewan Rakyat.
The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat had on all occasions allowed motions to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance to be read out in the House immediately after Question Time some of the occasions being on 25.4.74; 29.4.74; 17.7.74; 18.7.74; 24.7.74 (two motions); 10.12.74; 26.7.76 and 27.7.76.
The Assembly has a right to know from Mr. Speaker the reasons why he had chosen to deal with matters a under Standing Order 17(1) at the time under Order 13(1)(e) and not 13(1)(h).
Mr. Speaker had also ignored Standing Order 13(1) which determines the business of each sitting day and the Assembly shall transact its business in the Assembly in that order as stated out in that Order, unless the Assembly otherwise directs.
For example, on 13.12.76, it was found before the sitting of the House that Order Paper for the day contained a list of questions for Oral Answers but after some time, this Order was withdrawn and replaced later on with a ‘new Order Paper which did not have any questions for oral answers.
Indeed this is strange! How could there be no questions for oral answers when there were many questions of members which had not appeared in the Order Papers during the sittings of this meeting? It must have been Mr. Speaker who must have directed the withdrawal of the first Order Paper.
I am surprised why Mr. Speaker did not use Standing Order 13(1) and 13(2) to alter the order of business for the day. In fact, Order 13(1) states:
“Unless the Assembly otherwise directs, the business of each sitting shall be transacted in the following order:…”
Order 13(1)(g) provides that there shall be “Questions to Menterib Besar” and it is the seventh order of business for each sitting day. And since there were questions for oral answers, why was this provision not adhered to? And if at all there is to be a change in the order of business, the Assembly should be the one to decide on the change and not Mr. Speaker or anyone else.
And for such purpose of skipping the order of business, Order 13(2) provides that “The Assembly may, upon a motion to be moved by the Menteri Besar or in his absence, a member of the Executive Council to be decided without amendment or, debate which may he made without notice and shall take precedence over all other business, decide to proceed to any particular business out of the regular order.”
Why didn’t Mr. Speaker apply this Order?
Mr. Speaker has been habitually rejecting proposals from members of’ the Assembly that he should, as far as wherever it is applicable, conform to the Parliamentary practices adopted by Parliaments in the Commonwealth.
My colleagues and I have pleaded time and again with Mr. Speaker to have respect to Assembly Standing Order 89 which reads:
“All matters not specifically provided in these Orders and all qurstions relating to the detailed working of these Orders shall be regulated in such manner, not inconsistent with these Orders, as Mr. Speaker may ‘from time to time, direct; and in giving any such direction Mr. Speaker shall have regard to the usages of Commonwealth Parliamentary practice so far as such usages can be applied to the proceedings of the Assembly.”
But, Mr. Speaker had always taken shelter under Standing Order 88 whenever his rulings are challenged, since that order provides that Mr. Speaker’s decision on any point of interpretation of the Orders shall be final. Order 88 cannot be read in isolation. It must be read together with Order 89, which is a mandatory order for Mr. Speaker.
Even on a matter of practice, Mr. Speakers ruling is to be assumed final, subject to a substantive motion move for that purpose – to review that ruling as is now the case.
Mr. Speaker had agreed with a ‘mad’ suggestion in this Assembly on 16.12.76 that the Assembly need not follow the practices of any Parliament, including the Malaysian Parliament Mr. Speaker collly accepted that suggestion.
I do not know how Mr. Speaker had thought it fit to disregard Parliament which is supreme in this country. Does Mr. Speaker mean to say that this Assembly is above Parliament?
In a Federation like Malaysia, although each state is granted the right under the Constitution that they should have their own legislature, Federal Parliament is supreme and in above all state legislatures. I do not know whether that member who suggested that we ignore practices of our own Parliament would advocate that the Federal Parliament is subordinate to state lgislatures.
Mr. Speaker had also refused to abide by the Standing Orders on many other occasions. For example, on 15.12.76, when I raised on a point of order twice that the EXCO member from Simpang Lima, Encik Abdul Rauf Ismail, should first disclose the extent of his interests in a company – Syarikat Germuda Perak Sdn. Bhd – when he attempted to answer my question on the company, Mr. Speaker refused to make a ruling that the EXCO member should first disclose his interests before talking on the company of which he is the Chairman.
Standing Order 35(7) reads:
“A member shall not speak on any matter in which he has a direct personal pecuniary interest (other than the matter of remuneration under any provision of the Constitution) without disclosing the extent of that interest.”
The Menteri Besar saved the day for Mr. Speaker on that day,
Another glaring example of his refusal to make necessary rulings was on 20.12.76, when my colleagues from Jalong (Mr. Ngan Siong Hing), Kepayang (Mr, Lim Cho Hock) and I together raised the question of pistols being carried into the Assembly and asked Mr. Speaker to make a ruling that pistols should not be brought into the Assembly.
But Mr. Speaker refused to make such a ruling. I do not know for what reason Mr. Speaker evaded making such a ruling,
Mr. Speaker had missed the opportunity to establish the fact that this Assembly cannot be conducted with pistols pointing at the heads of the Opposition, for nothing on this earth can deter us from the DAP from speaking out the truth and fighting for justice. If we are to become martyrs for speaking the truth and fighting for justice, let it be so!
It is therefore the responsibility of the Assembly to ensure that justice and fair play exists in this House and every known mistake corrected.
I urge all members of this, Assembly to be one voice in reviewing that unfair and undemocratic decision by Mr. Speaker on 13,12.76 in not allowing my colleage from Jalong, Mr. Ngan Siong Fling, to read his motion.
If we fail to direct Mr. Speaker to allow my colleague from Jalong to read out his motion, then we would be doing the greatest disservice to democracy and justice.
It is not only Parliament that has adopted the practice of allowing members to read out their motion moved for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance immediately after “Qurstion Time’, even many State Legislative Assemblies have adopted that practice.
In Negeri Sembilan, the State Legislative Assembly Standing 16(1) states:
“Setelah habis semua pertanyaan itu dijawab, siapa-siapa ahli bolehlah meminta izin mencadangkan supaya Dewan ditangguhkan bagi maksud merundingkan sesuatu perkara yang tertentu lagi mustahak diuruskan dengan segera bagi faedah orang ramai. Ahli itu hendaklah menyatakan apakah perkara yang ia minta izin merundingkannya itu.”
So, it is mandatory on the part of the member so raising such matter to state the matter which he seeks to discuss in the Assembly.
The Kelantan State Legislative Assembly Standing Order 30(1) states;
“No motion for the adjournment of the Assembly on a definite matter of urgent public importance shall be made unless a member at the commencement of Public Business (i.e. immediately after all questions have been disposed off) rises in his place and states that he asks leave to move the adjournment of the Assembly for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, whereupon he shall state the matter and deliver to the Speaker or the presiding member a written statement of the subject, to be discussed.”
The same Order is found in the Standing Orders for the Trengganu State Legislative Assembly, The Order being No, 30(1), and there is no difference in the wordings of that order when compared with Standing Order 30(1) of the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly.
And in Malacca, Standing Order 16(l) of the State Lgislative Assembly there states:
“Apabila semua pertanyaan telah diselesaikan sabarang ahli boleh minta izin mencadangkan penangguhan Mesyuarat Dewan untuk membincangkan satu perkara tertentu berkenaan kepentingan orang ramai yang berkehendak disegerakan. Ahli itu hendaklah menyatakan apakah perkaranya yang ia minta izin untuk dibincangkan itu.”
The Standing Order of the Selangor State Legislative Assembly is worded similarly to that of Perak, and if in the 5elangor State Assembly, it is a practice to allow members to read out their motion when they seek leave of the Assembly to move a motion to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, I do not see any reason why it cannot be done so in our Assembly here.
Finally, if this Assembly does not direct Mr. Speaker to call upon the member, For Jalong to read out his motion regarding a definite matter of urgent public importance, then it would mean that the practic¬es adopted by our own Parliament and the State; Assemblies regarding motions of the above nature are all wrong.
It would also mean that the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat are wrong in allowing members to read such motions in the House. And such a situation would put the Malaysian Parliament to shame in the eyes of the world.
Do we want genuine democracy to flourish in this state or be further maimed and Mutilated and be appropriately termed as democracy ala Barisan Nasional?