Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader and DAP Secretary-General, Lim Kit Siang, at a Press Conference held in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, Oct. 23, 1977 at 10 a.m.
DAP demands reason why Speaker rejects motion of Chinese and Tamil education
On 6th Oct. 1977, I gave notice that I would move a motion on Chinese and Tamil schools and education in the coming session of Parliament, which begins tomorrow (Oct. 24).
The motion reads:
“That this House,
TAKING COGNISANCE of the fact that Malaysia is a multi-racial nation and that an enduring basis for Malaysian nation-building can only be built on a respect for the diverse languages and cultures in the country;
CONSCIOUS of the vital need to resolve once and for all the national division which had been created by language problems in our country;
NOTES the acceptance of Malay as national and official language of the country by Malaysians of all races;
DECLARES that Clause 152 (1) (a) of the Malaysian Constitution which guarantees that “no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using (otherwise than for official purposes) or from teaching or learning any other language” includes the guaranteed Constitutional use of Chinese and Tamil as medium of instruction, not only for primary schools, but secondly and university levels as well;
DECLARES that Clause 152 (1) (b) of the Malaysian Constitution that “nothing in this Clause shall prejudice the right of the Federal Government or of any State Government to preserve and sustain the use and study of the language of any other community in the Federation” contains a constitutional authorization for government financial support for the establishment, development and promotion of primary, secondary and university institutions using Chinese or Tamil as sole or joint media of instruction.”
Yesterday. I received a letter from the Clerk of Parliament, Dato Azizul Rahman, stating that the Speaker Tan Sri Nik Kamil had rejected my motion under Clause 36 (11) of the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
Clause 36(11) of the Standing Orders reads:
“If Tuan Yang di-Pertua is of the opinion that any motion of amendment or the continuance of the debate thereon is calculated to give rise to breaches of this Order he may disallow the motion or amendment or, as the case may be, may terminate the debate and direct that no further proceedings be taken on the motion or amendment.”
I immediately telephoned Datuk Azizul to ask him the reason for the rejection of my motion. I pointed out to him that I have not been furnished with the reason why my motion could not be allowed. Clause 36(11) is the section under which the Speaker acts – but it furnishes no reason why the motion is disallowed. I would expect to the informed which sub-section of Clause 36 my motion has infringed, to cause the Speaker to ct under Clause 36(11).
Sub-Sections (1) to (10) of Clause 36 governs the contents of speeches, eg. that a member s” offensive or insulting language” about other members; or that no reference should be made to the personal conduct or character of any MP or public servant; or that it would be out of order to use (a) reasonable words; (b) seditious words; (c) words which are likely to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different communities.
Datuk Azizul’s letter is therefore incomplete, in failing to furnish the reason for the disallowance of my motion.
Although I asked for written reasons for the disallowance, I did not receive any notification when my office in Parliament closed on Saturday.
From what I gather, the reason for the disallowance is not that the motion is out of order or infringe any law or standing order, but the fear that when the motion is debated, some Members of Parliament may touch on sensitive issues. In such circumstances, it is the duty of the Speaker to prevent MPs from touching or raising “sensitive” issues prohibited by the Constitution. To disallow this motion for fear of this possibility is most unreasonable.
The motion has been framed with great through and care to make a contribution to national unity. Its disallowance, whatever the reason, would be a big set-back in this regard. I am entitled to know, and the people are equally entitled to know, the reason why this motion is disallowed – and not a mere reference to Clause 36(11). Members of Parliament have a right to expect a high level of competence from the Office of the Clerk of Parliament, and not the sending out of incomplete letters which do not furnish reasons for the disallowance of motions notice of which have been duly served.
As this motion directly affect Chinese and Tamil education and schools, the people expect the MCA, Gerakan, MIC party leaders and Ministers to declare their stand on this matter.