By Parliament Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, on Friday, 27.5.1983:
Letter to Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib bin Othman, to take a stern view of the incident where DAP Malacca Assemblyman, Lai Keun Ban, was assaulted and insulted by several persons for carrying out his Assembly duties.
I have written to the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abu Talib bin Othman, who is also the Public Prosecutor, to take a stern view and deal severely with the incident on Wednesday, 25.5.1983, where the DAP Malacca Assemblyman for Durian Daun, Sdr. Lai Keun Ban, was surrounded by a crowd and assaulted and abused for speaking up for the people’s interest in the Malacca Assembly.
Sdr. Lai had yesterday formally lodged a police report that after the Malacca Assembly on Wednesday evening, where he moved a motion calling for an open inquiry into the allocation of the 104 Bandar Hilir public housing units because of the abuses involved where the genuine needy were denied houses while MCA officials and their people were allocated the houses, Sdr. Lai was surrounded by a crowd of people on leaving the Malacca Assembly, abused, threatened, and also warned of dire consequences if he continued to issue statements about abuses in the allocation of the housing units. Sdr. Lai was put in fear of bodily harm by the treats and gestures of a few ringleaders in the crowd.
I had asked the Attorney-General to take a stern view of the incident to ensure that no MP or Assemblymen should be threatened, obstructed or abused for carrying out his duties as an elected representative.
I also emphasized the gravity of such offences, by drawing the Attorney-General’s attention to the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance, 1952, which provided for summary punishment by Parliament by fine not exceeding $1,000 and imprisonment not exceeding 60 days, for the offence of “assaulting. Obstructing or insulting any Member of Parliament coming to or going from the House or on account of his conduct in the House or endeavouring to compel ay member by force, insult, or menace to declare himself in favour of or against any proposition or matter pending or expected to be brought before the House.”
The whole purpose of a parliamentary system whether at Federal or State level would be defeated if a few muscle-men could intimidate or browbeat elected representative from carrying out their duties as MP or Assemblymen, and I urged the Attorney-General to take severe action to ensure that there would be no recurrence of such contemptible action, even though in this case, it was an Opposition Assemblymen was who was the victim of such hooliganism.
2. An Open Letter to the Malacca Assembly Speaker, Datuk Abdul Razak bin Alias to urge him to carry out his Speaker’s duties conscientiously to uphold the dignity and decorum of the Assembly.
I take a very serious view of the various irregular and highly improper happenings in the two-day Malacca Assembly meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday, which have brought the Assembly to a new low of public esteem, and I an issuing this Open Letter to the Malacca Assembly Speaker, Datuk Abdul Razak bin Alias, to urge him to carry out his Speaker’s duties conscientiously and to discharge his responsibility to uphold the dignity and decorum of the Assembly.
An Open Letter to Malacca Assembly Speaker, Datuk Abdul Razak bin Alias, to uphold the dignity and decorum of the Assembly.
Y.B. Datuk Abdul Razak, bin Alias,
YB. Datuk Speaker,
I take a most serious view of the various happenings in the two-day Malacca Assembly meeting on 24th and 25th May 1983 which were highly improper and irregular, bringing the Malacca Assembly to a new low of public esteem, and I feel so concerned about these happenings that I am writing this Open Letter to you to urge you to conscientiously carry out your duties as Malacca Assembly Speaker to uphold the dignity and decorum of the Assembly.
I will mention three instances.
First, at the start of the Malacca Assembly meeting on 24th May 1983, DAP Member for Durian Daun, Sdr. Lai Keun Ban, had asked for your ruling that the Assembly meeting had been convened in a irregular and improper manner, having failed to comply with Standing Orders No. 9(2) which provides that “the Order of the Day, together with a copy of each Bill, motion, question or other document referred to in the Order of the Day shall…be sent to each member by the Setiausaha 7 days before the day of the meeting.” All Malacca Assemblymen, whether Barisan Nasional or DAP, had only five days’ notice of the papers.
You ruled however that under the newly-printed Standing Orders, following the adoption of a new set of Standing Orders by the Assembly on 9th December 1982, have now provided for five days.
A check of the December 1982 Assembly proceedings show that in the new set of Standing Orders adopted by the Assembly, tabled as Risalat Dewan No. 8/6 Tahun 1982, in both the Bahasa Malaysia and English versions, there was no alteration to the seven-day requirement in Rule 9(2). Somewhere along the line, when the new Standing Orders were printed in new booklet from (the blue book), the seven-day requirement in Rule 9(2) had been altered to five days.
It is elementary common sense that no one, whether the Speaker, the Chief Minister, or the Setiausaha, has the right to arbitrarily and unilaterally change a word or a comma after the Assembly had adopted rules or an enactment, and the subsequently printed rules or enactment must conform with what was actually adopted by the Assembly. Otherwise, Parliament fixes the sentence for an offence as five years’ jail, but the Gazetted law can change it to death sentence!
The unauthorized change in Rule 9(2) from seven days to five days could be an inadvertent printing error, or more serious, attempt by some quarter to smuggle an alteration without Assembly approval. Your role as Speaker would be to point out that the five-day provision in the newly printed Standing Order was wrong, and that the seven-day rule remains. But you ruled that the newly-printed book of Standing Orders is the authoritative version, even if it varied with what was passed by the Assembly in December 1982.
Secondly, during the Assembly debate on 25.5.83 on the mention by Sdr. Lai Keun Ban, calling for an open inquiry into the allocation of Bandar Hilir low-cost flats on the ground of abuses in allocation where MCA officials and their people denied genuinely needy homeless of houses, the MCA Assemblyman for Bandar Hilir, Datuk Gan Boon Leong, during his speech, left his seat, walked to the door of the Assembly chamber, opened the door, and exhibited to the Assembly the crowd of successful applicants massed outside the Assembly Chamber for a demonstration. Datuk Gan’s action has brought the dignity and decorum of the Assembly to a new low. Yet you as Speaker, responsible for upholding the dignity and decorum of the House, allowed Datuk Gan to treat the Assembly as a circus without taking disciplinary action. Nor did you inquire how the mass of people could answer the Assembly precincts when there was normal security checks at the Assembly entrance.
Thirdly, after the Assembly had adjourned on 25.5.1983 after Sdr. Lai’s motion, Sdr. Lai was accosted by the crowd of people who had gathered outside the Assembly Chamber at the direction of Datuk Gan Boon Leong, and Sdr. Lai was threatened, abused, put in fear of bodily harm, and warned of dire consequences if he continued to raise the issue of abuses in the allocation of the Bandar Hilir low-cost flats.
I understand you saw Sdr. Lai being surrounded by the crowd of people when you were coming out of the Assembly, but you did nothing to protect and uphold the dignity and decorum of the Assembly where no Assemblymen should be obstructed or interefered with in the carrying out of their Assembly duties.
As Speaker of the House, you owe a duty to all Assemblymen, regardless of party, and to the people of Malacca, to uphold the dignity and decorum of the House, and I believe you owe it to the people of Malacca to explain how you propose to deal with the above three instances to redeem the fallen dignity and decorum of the Assembly.
(Lim Kit Siang)
MP for Kota Melaka,