DAP calls for an elected Senate or its abolition as it is totally irrelevant and a sham of our parliamentary system.

Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, at the DAP Alor Star Branch Anniversary Dinner held at Alor Star, 5.7.1985 at 8 pm.

DAP calls for an elected Senate or its abolition as it is totally irrelevant and a sham of our parliamentary system.

The Senate is a sham of our parliamentary system as it has proved to be totally irrelevant and a ‘White Elephant’ which has failed its constitutional purpose as a revision chamber to review the legislation enacted by the Dewan Rakyat.

The public funds spent on Senators since Merdeka in l957 had been a total waste
of the taxpayers’ money, for the Senate is a dumping ground for political ‘rejects’,
‘defeated candidates in elections’, and politics of Barisan Nasional parties who would
otherwise have no chance of entering Parliament.

The cynical manner in which Senator’s posts were regarded as ‘jobs for the boys’
could be seen in the tussle for the Kedah Senate seat by the two MCA factions of
Neo Yee Pan and Tan Koon Swan.

Because of the power struggle in MCA, there was stalemate in the appointment
of a Senator in Kedah from the MCA. Finally, a compromise solution was reached
whereby the Tan Koon Swan faction’s Bee Yang Sek was appointed to serve half a
term of 18 months, while the second half of a Senator’s 3-year term is to be filled
by Neo Yee Pan faction’s Chee Kok Hong.

What happens if one day there are say, six factions in MCA? Does this mean that the
three-year term of a Senator is to be split into six portions, so that six persons could rotate
to be Senator for six months each?

The splitting of a Senator’s term to shorter periods to enable competing candidates or
factions to reach a compromise on the Senatorial appointment is not only highly cynical,
but violate the spirit of the Constitution and parliamentary democracy.

This shows that the criteria for the selecting of a Senator is not on which candidate
has the highest qualifications to serve in the Senate, but how best to accommodate
competing interests of rival candidates, factions or component Barisan parties.
This means that the interest of the people never enter into consideration in such appointments.
If Bee Yang Sek and Chee Kok Hong are men of political honour, they would never agree to such a compromise.

The so-called ‘compromise’ solution of the MCA factions on the Senate appointment in
Kedah has brought the whole Senate into disrepute and public contempt, and demonstrates
how irrelevant the Senate has become 28 years after Merdeka.

The DAP calls for an elected Senate or the abolition of the Senate so that institutions which
serve no national purpose do not continue to be a drain on the nation’s funds.

The Malaysian Constitution has provisions for an elected Senate. Article 45(4) for instance provides
for Senators for each state to be elected by the ‘direct vote of the electors of the State’, the increase to three the number of members to be elected for each state, and the decrease or abolition of
appointed Senators.

The unseemly sight of MCA leaders and other Barisan parties in the country fighting to grab the
‘spoils of office’ in the Senate which would assured them of a free allowance and pension for life
without having to do anything as they are answerable and responsible to no one, has dishonoured Malaysian politics. If Senators are elected by the people, then there would be no room for such
open and blatant opportunism and self~seeking.