Protest against inadequate time for debate of Mid-Term Review of Third Malaysia Plan

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Lim Kit Siang, in the Parliamentary House on Wednesday,28th March 1979 at 3.30pm.

Protest against inadequate time for debate of Mid-Term Review of Third Malaysia Plan

To protest in the strongest possible terms against the inadequate time allotted for the debate on the Mid-Term Review of The Third Malaysia Plan. When moving the motion on the adoption of the Mid-Term Review in the Dewan Rakyat on 19th March, the Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, promised that six days would be alloted for the debated and the motion and twp days for the Ministers to reply.

Debate on the Mid-Term Review did not begin until March 21 (Wednesday). This means so far, there had been four full days of debate, namely Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday (26/3).A Half-day yesterday, Thursday, (27/3) was also given for the debate, making a total of 41/2 days. This is grossly inadequate and manifestly unfair for all the Members of Parliament of all parties who wanted to participate in the important debate on the Mid-Term Review of the Third Malaysia Plan. If the Government cannot properly plan over the parliamentary time-table, it indeed augurs ill for the properly plan over the development planning under the Third Malaysia Plan.

Protest against unfair treatment of MP for Menglembu, P.Patto and Party Chairmen and MP for Seremban, Dr.Chen Man Hin

When debated closed yesterday for Ministers to reply, two DAP leaders who were actively trying to speak were Sdr.p.Patto, Mp for others who wanted to try, but did not have the chance, include MP for Dason, MP for Sandakan, Fung Ket Win, MP for Ipoh, Lim Cho Hock Keat and MP for Bruas, Ting Chek Ming.

In the case of Sdr.P.Patto, he had been trying to catch the Speaker’s eye to be given the chance to speak for three days, namely Friday, Monday and Tuesday. But he was deliberately ingnored and denied the adequate time for debate on major issues, and also to extend into late night sittings, so that the Dewan Rakyat is not treated as a ‘rubber stamp’ chamber.

DAP deplores Darisan Nasional MPs for sabotaging parliamentary proceedings since Monday, 19th March

We the opposition MPs deplore the irresponsible attitude and behaviour of Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs since the first day of this meeting, who had consistently sabotaged parliamentary proceedings.

Up till yesterday, DAP MPs had given notice and were to make 12 adjournment speeches on various matters of socio-economic concern to the people, but everyone of those adjournment speeches had been sabotaged.

Barisan Nasional MPs and Ministers do this by deliberateny creating a lack of quorum at 6.30p.m. when the adjournment speeches were to be delivered, so that the House had to be immediately speeches Among the Barisan Ministers seen during this period instigating this parliamentary sabotage include Datuk Lee San Choon and Chan Siang Sum are elected into Parliament not because of their own individual merits, but dependent on the votes of other parties.

The irresponsibility of Barisan Nasional Ministers and MPs, must, however, be deplored by all right-thinking Malaysians. I remember that in the early Seventies, when some Alinance MPs also tried to sabotage parlimentary proceedings by creating a no-quorum a halt to these disruptive sabotage tactics which reflect badly on Parliament itself. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of suck parliamentary regard in high government circles.

I call on the Prime Minister, Datuk Hussein Onn, to look into this and stop this irresponsible sabotage of parliamentary proceedings by Barisan Ministers and Mps. The issues which DAP MPs wanted to raise may not be important to Barisan Ministers and MPs, but they are important to the rakyat. For instance, some of the speeches sabotaged so far include:

1. The problems of P.V.Rs-P.Patto
2. Problems of flash floods in Kuala Lumpur – Lee Lem Thye
3. The Filipino refugees – problem created by them in Sabah – Fung Ket Win
4. Quarters for employees of Malayan Railway – P.Patto
5. ‘Ali Baba’ system of owning taxi licences – Lee Lam Thye
6. Parliamentary Reforms – Lim Kit Siang

I hope the Prime Minister will heed this call to stop the sabotage of adjournment speeches in the next tree days, which are to be made by Sdr.P.Patto, Sdr. Seow Huang Khim and Sdr.Chan Teok Chan.

MPs should be immediately given answers to Oral Questions not answered during Question Hour

A total of 566 Oral Questions were submitted for this 10-day Parliamentary meeting, giving an average of 58.6 questions a day to be asnsered during the Question Hour. The average number of questions answered a day is around 20. This means that every day two-third of the questions submitted are not answered.

Although it is the parliamentary practice that oral questions which are not answered during quest on hour are subsequently reported in the Hasard is printed, some two or three ears later. By that time, until Hansard is printed, some two or three years later. By that time, the questions and the answers have ceased to have any relevance.

There are Ministers who give their answers, even though not given during Question Hour, to the press;but this is unsatisfactory. Firstly, because the MP who ask the question and who is most interested in the answer does not get the reply; and secondly, whether the answer is published in press or not depends on the various newspapers concerned.

This defeat the purpose of questioning in Parliament, which is to get quick answers to matters of public interest in the minds of Members of Parliament, I suggest that all oral questions, which are not asked during Question Hour, should be treated as written question on the very same day itself, and the answers released not only to the Press, but also to the MP who asked the question. I know of instances where Ministers withdraw their replies to questions not asked during question time, and Parliamentary staff had to chase the Ministries concerned sometimes for year, to get the reply to print in the Hansard. This is most illogical, irresponsible and inefficient.

There are many parliamentary reforms which must be made to make Parliament more efficient and up-to-date. I had hoped to raise some of these proposals in my adjournment speech on ‘Parliamentary Reform’on 22nd March , but it was sabotaged by the device of calling on quarum.

I call for the establishment of a speaker’s All-Party Conference on Parliamentary Reforms, to make the Dewan Rakyat move ahead with times and demands of the country to make it a vigorous, dynamic and effective highest legislative chamber in the country.