Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in the Dewan Rakyat on July 24 on the amendment to the motion on the Privileges Committee Report on Fung Ket Wing-Harris Salleh on Tuesday, 24.7.1984
Overruling of Privileges Committee recommendation of reprimand of Fung Ket Wing and replacing it with nine-month suspension vindictive, spiteful and influenced by the demand of Sabah Chief Minister for his ‘pound of flesh’
I am very surprised that an amendment has been moved to the motion presented by the Deputy Minister to the Minister of Home Affairs, Radzi bin Sheikh Ahmad, on the Committee of Privileges Report on Fung Ket Wing-Harris Salleh case.
Firstly, this amendment, moved by Berjaya backbencher, tantamounts to gesture of no confidence on the Deputy Minister to the Minister of Home Affairs, Radzi bin Sheikh Ahmad. I can only express my sympathy for him.
Secondly, this amendment is also a gesture of no confidence in the Committee of Privileges, on its Chairman, who is the Speaker and formerly a High Court Judge, and members of the Committee, comprising two Deputy Ministers, Radzi bin Sheikh Ahmad and S.Subramaniam, one Parliamentary Secretary, Yeoh Poh San, and three MPs, (one of whom was a former Minister, another a former Deputy Minister and the third a leading barrister).
Although we in the DAP have our disagreements with the proceedings of the Privileges Committee, which I had set out in my speech yesterday, we have not sought to amend the motion to show our confidence in the Committee of Privileges.
In fact, this is the first time for quite some time that we are having a proper procedure and system to deal with complaints of breach of privilege, for I still remember in the previous Parliamentary sessions, various complains of breaches of privilege, including one on the Member for Mark Koding who had read out extracts of a banned book in the House, had disappeared into oblivion when the Parliament concerned was dissolved.
For this I commend the Committee of Privileges, in particular the Chairman, for introducing a proper system and procedure to deal with complaints about breaches of privilege.
But this amendment tantamounts to show of no confidence in wisdom and judgement of the Committee of Privileges, Of course, Parliament has the right and the power to overrule the findings and recommendations of the Privileges Committee, but where it varies greatly, it must reflect on the competence and wisdom of the Chairman and Members of the Committee of Privileges.
Thirdly, the manner of amendment, which is not to amend the motion before the House, but to amend the Report of the Committee of Privileges itself, to require the Committee of Privileges to recommend a suspension instead of a reprimand.
If I were on the Committee of Privileges, I would have protested against such open contempt for the dignity and integrity of Committee of Privilege.
I have said that it is within the power and right of Parliament, which appointed the Committee of Privileges, to accept or reject the finding and recommendation of the Committee of Privileges, and substituted what it regards as the proper finding and punishment.
But Parliament has no right to violate the integrity of the Report of the Committee of Privileges, by in forcibly amending it, without even consultation or consent of the Committee of Privileges.
We must not allow this highly irregular and improper practice of Parliament amending the Report of the Committee of Privileges, for this is insulting the integrity and wisdom of the Committee of Privileges. We are in fast forcing on the Committee of Privileges a point of judgement which Members of the Committee of Privileges have no chance to agree or dissent.
We are also setting a highly dangerous precedent. On this basis, when the Ahmad Nordin committee of inquiry into the $2,500 million Bumiputra Malaysia Finance loans scandal in Hong Kong completed its report and submit it to the authorities, the authorities could rewrite the findings of the Inquiry Committee, which makes a mockery of all investigations and inquiry committees.
In my experience, in all Commonwealth Parliaments, I have never come across an incident where in debating Privileges Committee Reports, amendments are ever made to the Committee of Privileges Report to rewrite forcibly its recommendations and findings, except by way of motion to accept or reject and substitute its own decision based on the Committee of Privileges Report.
POUND OF FLESH
The Committee of Privileges in making recommendation for a reprimand for MP for Sandakan, had approached the matter in as impartial and non-partisan a manner as possible, in kepong with the subject matter at hand.
But this proposal to overrule the Privileges Committees recommendation of reprimand to one of nine-month suspension for the MP for Sandakan is clearly politically-motivated, reflecting a vindictive, spiteful attitude on those who demand their ‘pound of flEsh’, in particular on the part of the Chief Minister of Sabah.
Everybody knows that the Sabah Chief Minister is not happy about the ‘reprimand’ proposal of the Privileges Committee. He even had the temerity to demand at the Privileges Committee that the MP for Sandakan should be suspended for one full year.
Parliament must be fair. Both MP for Sandakan and MP for Ulu Padas were reffered to the Committee of Privileges, and the MP for ULU Padas has also failed to prove his statement that he had less than 2% of the Labuan land ownership. What MP for Sandakan received by way of punishment should also be meted out to MP for Ulu Padas.
I propose therefore an amendment to the amended motion, as follows.
“Dan seperti didedahkan dalam perjalanan verbatim Lapuran Jawatankuasa Kak dan Kebebasan, Ahli dari Ulu Padas teleh tidak atau tidak menawar untuk membuktikan kenyataan yang dibuatnya dalam Dewan Rakyat pada 22.11.1983 yuang juga telah dirujuk kepada Jawatankuasa Hak dan Kebebasan, make Ahli bagi Ulu Padas hendaklah juga menerima hukuman yang sama seperti Ahli dari Sandakan.”
And as revealed in the verbatim proceedings of the Report of the Committee of Privileges, the Member for Ulu Padas did not or did not offer to prove his statement made in the Dewan Rakyat on 22.11.1983 which was also referred to the Committee of Privileges, thus the Member for Ulu Padas should also receive the same punishment as the Member for sandakan.