The Standing Orders of Parliament cannot be so undemocratic as to institutionalize unfairness and oppression of minority in the House – or the tyranny of the majority

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, Nov.23, 1985:

The Standing Orders of Parliament cannot be so undemocratic as to institutionalize unfairness and oppression of minority in the House – or the tyranny of the majority

I cannot agree with the comments of the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, Tan Sri Zahir Ismail, that a substantive motion to challenge the ruling of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker can only be given priority if moved by Minister, Deputy Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary.

In the first place, it would be unthinkable and inconceivable that a Minister, Deputy Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary would ever move a substantive motion to challenge the ruling of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker, when it is the government which appoints the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

Secondly, a substantive motion under Standing Order 43 Speaker would lose all meaning if such a substantive motion’s chance of being debated in the House depends on the shims and fancies of the government, rather than on its inherent right to be debated after two days’ notice as provided in the Standing Orders.

In Parliament, during heated exchanges, DAP MPs are always reminded that they must abide by the decision and ruling of the Chair, and that if they want to challenge the Speaker or Deputy Speaker’s decision, they should move a substantive motion under S.O.43. When I have taken up this challenge to move a substantive motion under S.O.43, I now find that the substantive motion may never be debated because of the Speaker’s interpretation that government business must take precedence. Surely, this is making a complete farce of S.O.43!

Are there two types of privilege motions, depending on whether you are Barisan MP or Opposition MP?

I also find it impossible to accept Tan Sri Zahir’s attempt to differentiate between the different treatment accorded to the privilege motion moved against DAP MP for Jelutong, Karpal Singh, in Nov. 1984 and the privilege motion I moved against the MP for Psir Puteh, Wan Najib Wan Mohamed, on Tuesday. Tan Sri Zahir said that as the privilege motion against Sdr. Karpal Singh was moved by the Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, it became a government business and is entitled to precedence and priority status, while my privilege motion against Wan Najib is private business which is at the bottom of parliamentary business – and may never be debated at6 all!

At the end of 1983, the MP for Ulu Tengganu, Aias Ali moved a privilege motion against the DAP MP for Sandakan, Fung Ket Win, with regard to Harris Salleh’s land ownership in Labuan, and although it was moved by a private member, it was given priority and precedence over official business.

I cannot believe that the Standing Orders provides for two types of privilege motions, depending on whether you are a Barisan MP OR A Opposition MP.

If this is the case, then a Barisan Nasional MP can commit any breach of privilege in the knowledge that any motion to commit him for breach of privilege moved by the Opposition would not be allowed time for debate, let alone for decision.

I do not believe that the Standing Orders of Parliament is so undemocratic that it institutionalizes unfairness, injustice and oppression of the minority in the House – that in effect, it institutionalizes the tyranny of the majority.

If the Standing Orders are truly so undemocratic, unfair and oppressive, then the time has come not only for MPs, but for Malaysian public, to launch a nationwide campaign to demand that the Standing Orders of Parliament should be made more democratic and should adhere to the elementary notions of fair-play and justice.

DAP calls for the cancellation of the STPM General Paper last Thursday and for a result to ensure that non-Malay students are not unduly penalised in their answer to a very politicised question

I am shocked that that the STPM General Paper on Thursday contained a question which is highly politicised and divisive, and which could only lead to the non-Malay candidates being penalised if they answer and speak up their minds.

Question No. 10 of the STPM General Paper carried an extract from the formerly banned book of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, ‘The Malay Dilemma’ espousing the policy of assimilation. The fairly lengthy quotation, which is contained in pp. 146 – 149, made the following points:

That the Malays are the ‘definitive people’ and the non-Malays the ‘immigrants’ in the country.

That “…when immigrants retain their own cultures and also assume political and economic control of a country, they would in fact have conquered the original people.”

Dr. Mahathir’s argument and examples as to how the ‘immigrants’ could identify with the ‘definitive people.’ This passage is reproduced in Question 10 of the General Paper:

“Most Chinese immigrants now settled in America not only try to forget their own four thousand year old language and culture, but they are actually proud of having done so. Chinese Filipinos are on record as saying that the discrimination against foreign Chinese is actually a good thing. Chinese Thais use the Thai language exclusively in their own home. Chinese Indonesian demonstrate against China. Names are changed so that they sound like those of the definitive people. Religion may be discarded in favour of the common religion of the country of adoption.

In one of the questions posed by the General Paper for this passage, candidates are asked to discuss what Datuk Seri Dr. Mahthir meant by ‘complete identification’ of the ‘immigrant people’ with the ‘definitive people’, and how the ‘immigrant’ people could identify with the definitive people’.

There is no question which could be more ‘political’ in the fullest sense of the word. In fact, the very question raised in Dr. Mahathir’s passage is the subject of great political differences between political parties in Malaysia since Merdeka in 1957, and how could such a question be put to the students as an examination paper?

Would the non-Malay candidates be penalised if their answers vary and differ from the philosophy as expressed by Dr. Mahathir?

It must be remembered that when the ban on the book ‘The Malay Dilemma’ was lifted by the 2M government when Dr. Mahathir became Prime Minister in July 1981, Dr. Mahathir had indicated that some of the view he expressed in the ‘Malay Dilemma’ he no longer hold.

But it would appear that there are people in the government, in particular in the Education Ministry and the Examinations Syndicate, who regard ‘The Malay Dilemma’ as the basic standard of political thought for all Malaysians and students.

I do not want to enter into a debate on Dr. Mahathir’s views as expressed in ‘The Malay Dilemma’, but it is public knowledge that his views do not have the support of the majority of Malaysians.

The setting of such a ‘politicised’, ‘divisive’ question on a subject which had contributed to the aggravation of racial polarisation will upset the frame of mind of all non-Malay candidates, and make them unable to do well for the entire General Paper.

The DAP condemns the Examinations Syndicate for allowing such a question to be set, and calls for the resignation of the Chairman of the Examinations Council, Royal Professor Ungku Aziz, unless he could come out with a satisfactory explanation and take immediate action to cancel the General Paper and have it re-sat.

I do not know what the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Ling Liong Sik, is doing as Deputy Education Minister in allowing such questions to take place.

I will move a motion of urgent definite public importance in Parliament on Tuesday to protest in the strongest possible terms against introduction of such raw politics in the schools and examinations hall.

DAP calls for the sacking of teachers or lecturers who preach communalism and division in their lectures and classes

Last year, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, expressed concern that racial polarization had become so acute as to affect even school children. Unfortunately, no concrete action has been taken to arrest such racial polarization. On the contrary, lecturers and teachers are sometimes the biggest culprits for such polarization.

I have received complaints of one such latest incident. In Malacca, at he Bukit Bahru primary where a 3M teaching seminar is being conducted for primary school teachers from the various different language medium primary schools in preparation for the second stage of the 3M to be launched next year starting with Std. 4, a very unpleasant incident had occurred leading to the walk-out of Chinese primary school teachers from the lecture hall.

The lecturer for pelajaran seni, one Sukari Dasuki, one Sukari Dasuki, told the participants, which included Chinese primary school teachers, on Thursday, 21/11/85, that Chinese culture could not be included and accepted as part of Malaysian culture. She gave the example of the ‘dragon’ as an unacceptable feature of Chinese culture, and directed the Chinese primary school teachers that they cannot ask or allow their pupils to draw the ‘dragon.’ She said that if the teachers do not accept this view on Malaysian culture, they should go back to China.

The next day, i.e. yesterday, 22nd Nov. 1985, she again returned to this ‘sensitive’ subject, accusing Malaysian Chinese of not being loyal to Malaysia, claiming that Malaysian Chinese always talk about the good of Singapore, and they should go to Singapore or return to China. This led to an altercation between the lecturer and the Chinese primary school participants who could not stomach such intolerant attacks on Chinese culture or the loyalty of the Malaysian Chinese, leading to the boycott of her class by the Chinese primary school teachers.

I call on the Education Minister to take disciplinary action against Sukari Dasuki, although she is wife of a top Education Department official in Malacca, for she is causing racial tension and aggravating racial polarization instead of paving the way for greater integration of Malaysians. If Chinese primary school teachers could be treated with such contempt, in having their culture and status as citizenships insulted openly, one can understand the increasing complaints of non-Malay students about similar attacks being made by certain extremist teachers in classes.

I am very concerned at the growing racialism in the country, to be found in Parliament, in the State Assemblies, even in schools.

4. Call on Education Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi, to issue a directive to all teachers not to abuse their position to coerce students to convert to the religion, which would undermine inter-racial harmony and religious understanding

I have with me Mr. Ng Sin Man I/C 7864141 of Kampong Kubang Pa’amin, Pasir Mas, who had come all the way from Kota Bahru this morning to complain about how his daughter, Ng Yee Kuan, 16, had been forcibly removed from her family.

Mr. Ng said that Ng Yee Kuan, 16, Form Four Science student of Sekolah Sultan Ibrahim (1), Pasir Mas, Kelantan, did not return home on 13th Nv. 1985 when school closes. He went in search for her the whole day till 11 p.m., but to no avail. The next day, he went to school and was told that Yee Kuan was in school the previous day.

Later, he was told by some of Yee Kuan’s classmates that a religious teacher of the school had taken her away. When he went to the police station to lodge a police report of her missing daughter, the police advised him to wait as his daughter might have already returned home.

By about 3 p.m, the same day, Sin Man had become so worried that he again went to the police station to lodge a report.

The police informed Sin Man on 15th Nov. that Yee Kuan is safe in a Muslim house, but when asked by the father why the police did not bring her back, the OCPD said this could not be done.

On 16th Nov., Sin Man again went with MCA notables to intercede with the OCPD to bring her daughter home, but the OCPD said ‘things here different’, that if the police brought her back, the police could not take responsibility for subsequent developments. The OSPD gave Sin Man an address at Kubang Krian where his daughter is staying, and asked him to look her up. When there were protests as to how the police could ask Sin Man to go alone to a Malay kampong to bring back her daughter unescorted, the police arranged for an escort to take Sin Man to see her daughter at the given address on the night of 17th Nov.

Sin Man said her daughter, Yee Kuan, cried when she saw him, especially when she was told that her mother had fainted over news of her disappearance, and the her sister was always crying for her. When Sin Man asked her daughter whether she wanted to return with him, the police constable escort accompanying Sin Man said this could not be done, as they merely arranged for him to see the daughter. Sin Man asked Yee Kuan whether she could return the next day, and she said she would collect her books.

But the next day, Sin Man was told that his daughter had been taken away to a different unknown address.

Sin Man returned to the Kubang Krian address with a few Religious Council officials on 20th Nov., but he was told that she was no more there.

I ind this incident most shocking, especially as it is becoming more and more frequent, putting a great stain on inter-racial and inter-religious harmony. I call on the Education Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi, to teach a personal interest in these incidents, and issue a directive to all school teachers not to abuse their position by coercising their students to convert to their religion.

I also call on the Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Musa Hitam, to ensure that Yee Kuan, who is still a minor, to be returned to her family, to ensure the upholding of rule of law.

I will seek a meeting with Datuk Badawi to discuss the problem posed by the coercion or duress used by teachers to convert students to their religion, and the harm this is causing to the maintenance of confidence in the government and even the education system.