Government front-bench should consult the Opposition on Parliamentary practice and procedure so that the parliamentary farce yesterday where Dewan Rakyat was improperly adjourned till Monday would not recur

by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Thursday. Oct. 17, 1985:

Government front-bench should consult the Opposition on Parliamentary practice and procedure so that the parliamentary farce yesterday where Dewan Rakyat was improperly adjourned till Monday would not recur

The Government front-bench should consult and discuss with the Opposition on parliamentary practice and procedures so that the farce yesterday, when the Dewan Rakyat was improperly adjourned until Monday would not recur.

The adjournment of Dewan Rakyat yesterday till Monday, cancelling two Dewan Rakyat sittings fixed for today and tomorrow, is against all parliamentary practice and violate Standing Orders of Dewan Rakyat.

In the first place, the Minister of Land and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Adib Adam, had committed breach of the Standing Orders when he invoked Standing Order 12(1) to cancel Dewan Rakyat sittings for today and tomorrow, Standing Order 12(1) merely gives the Minister the power to move a motion to vary the time of the sitting, either for the Dewan Rakyat to adjourn earlier or later than 6.30 p.m. that particular day.

The government front-bench invoked Standing Order 12(1) because it was under the misconception that the Dewan Rakyat could not meet today and tomorrow, as there would be no Government Bills, and therefore no ‘parliamentary business’!

This is wrong, for Members of Parliament had been asked and submitted, questions for oral question for these two days. Standing Order 14 lays the ‘Order of the Business’ of the Dewan Rakyat, which included ‘Questions to Ministers of oral answers’.

The question hour is in fact one of the most important businesses of Parliament, and I cannot understand how anyone could argue that the question time is not part of ‘parliamentary business’.

If the front-bench had consulted the Opposition before its Ministers moved Standing Order 12(1) to improperly and irregularly adjourn the House, the scandalous parliamentary mistake would not have been made.

In this connection, the Government must give a full explanation as to why the Government Bills could not be ready well in advance of Parliamentary sittings so that MPs have the time to study the proposed legislation. The government front-bench have taken their parliamentary responsibilities so lightly that the situation had deteriorated until there are no Bills to be debated for two days, although the present Dewan Rakyat started on week later than originally scheduled.

Four years ago, the 2M government was established in a blaze of nation-wide publicity about ‘an efficient’ administration. Unfortunately, government efficiency had gone from bad to worse, resulting in the parliamentary farce yesterday when the Government could not table the Bills which the Cabinet had decided on months ago, and for which first reading had been made, namely amendment to the Banking Act Finance Congroines Act, Islamic Banking Act, Central Bank Act, National Land Code and the Cousititut.

There are MPs who regarded what happened yesterday as a joke. They cannot be more wrong. Any self-respecting MP should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for what happened yesterday, and should demand that Parliament should be treated with greater respect and seriousness by the Government.

There was another incident which showed how the present Parliament had become more and more irrelevant to the problems of the country.

On the second day of this meeting, on Thursday, 12th Oct. the full proceedings of the Public Accounts Committee of the previous Parliament (the Fifth Parliament which was dissolve in 1982) on the 1977 Federal Government accounts was presented to the Dewan Rakyat.

This is another scandalous Parliamentary development. Every Parliament set up a Select Committee, which includes the Parliamentary Accounts Committee, to report to it, and not to the next Parliament.

No Parliament in the Common wealth is there to be found a Parliamentary Accounts Committee which submits its report not to the Parliament which set it up, but to the next Parliament, except in Malaysia.

The current Sixth Parliamentary in 1982 set up a Public Accounts Committee to report on the Federal Government Accounts but up till now, the DAP had not reported a single full report (i.e. including the verbatim PAC proceedings). At the rate things are going, the PAC of the Sixth Parliament could only report to the Seventh Parliament after the next general elections.

This is parliamentary nonsense, for technically, a Select Committee lapses once the Parliament which set it up is dissolved. This would mean that if the PAC or any Select Committee could not submit its report to the Parliament which set it up before its dissolution, then there could not be reports as the Select Committee would have been dissolved too!

This probably explains why the Report of the PAC of previous Parliament on the 1977 Federal Government Accounts was tabled on Tuesday as a 1981 document. This is shocking, for why should a 1981 document be tabled on 15th Oct. 1985?

The report of the PAC of the previous Parliament must be referred to as a 1985 document, if it is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct. 15, 1982. But then, this would raise the question as to how could the Sixth Dewan Rakyat accept and consider a report of a Select Committee by the Fifth Dewan Rakyat.

Such parliamentary complications and nonsense would not occur if all MPs and Select Committees are aware of their parliamentary responsibilities. The tragedy is that is that despite our recent 25th Anniversary Celebration of Parliament, many Malaysian MPs do not even have an elementary knowledge of their parliamentary duties and responsibilities.