Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Kinta Valley Committee meeting in Ipoh on Sunday, March 04, 1984 at 10 a.m.
DAP calls on Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to release the Fourth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review well in advance of Parliamentary debate for MPs and the public to study and consider
The Cabinet approved the Mid-Term Review Report of the Fourth Malaysia Plan on January 10, but this Report had still to be made public although Parliament would begin its meeting next Monday on March 12 and would, among other things, be asked to adopt the Report.
The DAP calls on the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed to release the Fourth Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review well in advance of Parliamentary debate so that Members of Parliament as well as Malaysian economists, political leaders and interested members of the public could have time to study and make their views known before adoption by Parliament.
The Barisan Nasional government does not seem to have learnt from the Constitutional crisis last year, where Barisan Nasional MPs were told a day before Parliament that they would be required to vote for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill although the MPs knew next to nothing about the contents of the proposed amendment.
Yet, during the Constitutional crisis, the Prime Minister made great play about upholding the principle of parliamentary supremacy and the sovereignty of the people.
I call on Dr. Mahathir to fully honour his profession about the principle of parliamentary supremacy and the sovereignty of the people by ensuring that MPs are given full opportunity to study and understand the issues which they are required to give approval.
Surely, in the case of the Mid-Term Review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan, when the entire governmental brains-trust had been involved in its review, the Government must show more respect to MPs as well as members of the public by giving them ample time to study and debate it.
Although Parliament is meeting in a week ‘s time, MPs have not been given a single Bill which would be presented in Parliament, although MPs have been reading in the press about various new legislation which would be moved in the coming meeting, like the Printing Act, the amendments to the National Land Code, etc.
The 2M Government should change the traditional attitude of the ruling authorities in regarding the Parliament as mere rubber-stamp chambers, where MPs are required merely to put up their hands and shout ‘aye’ to all government proposals.
In fact, there should be Parliamentary reforms to involve MPs in a more active way in policy formulation and decision-making, as in the formation of specialist Parliamentary Committees to specialise and study various aspects of governmental functions, like defence, economic development, education, agriculture, etc. In this way, Parliament would be able to contribute to policy formation by making studied proposals and recommendations in different areas of policy.
Parliament must be an active participant of government, instead of being a department of government as seems to be the attitude of some Ministers and Deputy Ministers.
Are MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and other component parties full and equal partners of UMNO in Barisan, or they are just irrelevant passengers?
The way the Mid-term Review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan was prepared had raised the very pertinent question whether in the Barisan Nasional, MCA, Gerakan, SUPP and other component parties are full and equal partners of UMNO, or they are merely irrelevant ‘passengers’ whose jobs is not to participate in policy formation but to accept them when made.
Thus, the Mid-term Review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan was undertaken by a special task force of the Cabinet comprising six members, namely the Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, as chairman, Datuk Musa Hitam, Tengku Razaleigh, Tan Sri Ghazali, Shafie, Datuk Abdullah Badawi and Datuk Rais Yatim.
In this top review committee, which is going to gravely affect the future of all Malaysians of all races, there was not a single MCA, Gerakan, SUPP or MIC Minister.
This inevitably raises the question whether the Fourth Malaysia Plan is an UMNO Plan, or it is a Barisan Nasional Plan formulated without the participation of its component parties. The second question is whether the Mid-Term Review and its new policy proposals is basically UMNO’s policy, which the other parties like MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP had just to accept.
The MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP must explain to the people why they were completely excluded from the policy review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan. These who in the 1982 general elections joined or campaigned for the Barisan Nasional on the platform of ‘fight into the Barisan to rectify the Barisan; fight into the Cabinet to rectify the Cabinet’ should also explain how they could do any rectification when their views were not even solicited in the first place on such a vital matter as the Mid-term Review of the Fourth Malaysia Plan.