Call on Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh to resign as Deputy Speaker of Parliamentary into a ‘Star Chamber’, an engine of oppression, injustice and unfair play, bringing the institution into public disrepute and contempt

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Mp for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya DAP Hqrs on Saturday, DEC. 7,1985 at 12 noon

Call on Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh to resign as Deputy Speaker of Parliamentary into a ‘Star Chamber’, an engine of oppression, injustice and unfair play, bringing the institution into public disrepute and contempt

Yesterday, during the debate on the last bill, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Amendment Bill 1985, the Speaker, Tan Sri Zahir Ismail, interjected during my speech to remark that Parliamentary is akin to the highest court in the land. I agree, and this is why it is importance for the public confidence and public respect in the system of Parliamentary democracy that Parliamentary proceedings should not only be fair, but seen to be fair.

Unfortunately, in the two-month long parliamentary budget meeting which ended yesterday, there were numerous examples for the Malaysian public to see that Parliamentary proceedings, especially with regard to privilege matters, is not only unfair, but blatantly unfair!

I call on Dr Abdul Hamid Pawanteh to resign as Deputy Speaker for he has turned Parliamentary, in his interpretation on the law, practice and procedure of parliamentary privilege into a ‘Star Chamber’, an engine of oppression, injustice and unfair play, bringing the institution of Parliamentary into disrepute and contempt.

I have had many clashes in the past with the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat or even the Malacca State Assembly, but this will be the first time in my 16 years of parliamentary service that I am making such serious and solemn call for the resignation of a Deputy Speaker. I make this call full consciousness of the gravity of my proposal.

Yesterday, I had sought, after question time, to move a motion of privilege to refer the Minister of Information, Datuk Rais Yatim, to the Committee of Privilege for misleading or even lying to the House on NOV.28, when he reply to mu=y speech during the Committee stage debate on the 1986 supply estimates for his Ministry, as to why the Chinese operatic item ‘Toi Looi Hua’ by Sudirman and Noorkumalasari in ‘Setangkai Irama’ was cut out. Datuk Rais Yatim TOLD Parliamentary that this was at the request of the two singers, Mike Sudirman’s agent, Mike Bernie Chin, has made clear that this was untrue.

Dr. Hamid Panwanteh refused to allowed me even to read out the privilege motion, utterly disregarding two recent precendents in the House, the first one by the Speakers, Tan Sri Zahir Ismail, during the privilege motion to suspend the MP for Jelutong, Karpal Singh, on Nov.22 ,1984, when my objection was overruled with the decision that a privilege motion under Standing Order 26(1)(p) could be raised in the House without notice any time.
I was merely complying and following Tan Sri Zahir Ismail’s ruling on NOV. 22, 1984, when on 19th Nov. 1985 , I stood up in the House after question time to move a privilege motion against the MP for Pasir Puteh, Wan Najib Wan Mohamed, for uttering words likely to promote ill-will or hostility between the different communities.

The Deputy Speaker, who was then in the chair, accepted my right to read out the privilege motion but ruled that it must give way in precedence to governing business.

The Deputy Speaker had made a wrong ruling, not only because it went against the clear rule of the Speaker in Karpal Singh’s motion on NOV. 22,1984, but because he had failed to understand that according to the parliamentary and conventions, it is the Speaker or Deputy Speaker who decide on whether to give precedence to privilege motions, which has nothing to do with giving way after government business.

However, I accepted the Deputy Speaker’s ruling, and subsequently submitted a substantive motion to challenge the wrong ruling under Standing Order 43.

Yesterday, when I sought to table a privilege motion against Datuk Rais Yatim, Dr Hamid Pawanteh not only disregarded Tan Sri Zahir’s ruling of Nov. 22, 1984, but also his own precedent of Nov. 19, 1985 in refusing to allow me to present the motion.

He said that my privilege motion could be raised after the conclusion of ‘official business’, when he knows fully well that the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk James Ongkili, was already standing up to move a motion that the Dewan Rakyat ‘shall not adjourn until the completion of government business’ – a phraselogy to mean that all non-government business, namely my two privilege motions against Wan Najib and Datuk Rais Yatim and my two substantive motions to question the Deputy Speaker’s previous decisions, would be killed without time being allocated for their debate.

I do not think any Speaker or Deputy Speaker has brought more public disrepute or contempt to the House, for from Dr. Hamid Pawanteh’s conduct from the Chair, it is clear that there are double standards: that privilege motions against Opposition are given priority while privilege motions against Government MPs and Ministers ‘killed’ by the Parliamentary manoeuvre of not giving ‘time’.

This is like a Court giving immediate date to try criminal charges against Opposition Members, while refusing to set any date for trials of criminal charges against Government leaders, and even dragging out the fixing of dates indefinitely to avoid any ‘trial’ whatsoever. How can such a Court command any public respect or confidence? This is the style of operation of a Star Chamber, as in 17th Century England, operating as an engine of oppression, discrimination and injustice, and not as a even-handed Court guided by justice, integrity and fair play.

What is even more shocking is that the basic notions of the rules of natural justice are also alien and foreign to Dr Hamid Pawanteh, as illustrated by his conduct and rulings on Nov. 19, 1985 with regard to my privilege motion against Wan Najib.

Dr Hamid frequently quotes Standing Order 43, which provides that the decision of the Chair shall be final and not open to appeal or review except by way of a substantive motion, which, does not require more than two days’ notice. Yet when I moved two substantive motions under S.O. 43 to challenge his decisions, time is not given for the debates.

This means in effect that the check against abuse by the Speaker or Deputy Speaker in making arbitrary, biased or perverse decisions as provided for in S.O. 43, had been completely rendered in operative and meaningless by the further perverse decision and manoeuvre not to give time for debate for such substantive motions. This means that a Speaker or Depute Speaker can make any ruling he likes, however silly or unreasonable, knowing that even if a substantive motion is moved under Standing Order 43 to review and challenge his decision, the motion would be ‘killed’ for no time would be given to it.

Parliament cannot expect any public respect or confidence as the highest deliberative and legislative chamber, or even as the highest court in the land, if it operates in disregard of basic notions of justice and fair play, which govern proceedings of less august organisations and institutions and are even understood by student organisations.

Is Daim Zainuddin the Minister of Finance or the Minister for Shares?

The announcement by the Finance Minister, Daim Zainuddin, that Malaysian banks have agreed to give 100 per cent financial cover for stock purchases by local institutional investors raises many disturbing questions.

Firstly, who is to bear the losses if the share bought by loans fall in value, and the scrips turn into worthless pieces of paper. The banks or the government treasury?

Secondly, who are these institutional investors who are to get 100 per cent cover for stock purchases. Who will benefit from this new directive- the tycoons and the politically well-connected again? Clearly, the people who will not get anything will be the small investors, who lose on every count.

Thirdly, what are the shares which could be bought with such100 per cent bank loan cover? Could it be used to buy over, for instance, the $140 million forward contract purchase of Grand United and Supreme shares from El?

I call on the Finance Minister to give the fullest details of the new government directive to the banks to give 100 per cent loan cover to local institutional investors to buy shares.

I wonder whether Daim Zainuddin is the Minister of Finance or the Minister for shares?

Cable to Prime Minister Hawke to overrule OSO and revert to old system of selection of students to Australia

I have sent the following cable to Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, asking him to overule the Overseas Student Office and use the old system of selection of Malaysian Students for higher studies in Australia, out of justice and fairness.

My cable readers:
“Bob Hawke, Australian Prime Minister.
Urge your overruling of overruling of Overseas Students Office use of new pre-selection system for Malaysian students preparing for tertiary studies in Australia, an introduction of new system without warning or notice would cause hundreds of students to waste their one year of studies and preparations for Australian matriculation examination. While Australian government has final prerogative to decide on selection system, in justice and fairness, notice should be given to avoid hardships to affected students. Suggest new pre-selection OSO system be implemented fro 1987 batch of students.

Lim Kit Siang
Parliamentary Opposition Leader”

It has also been reported from Canberra that Malaysian government scholars would in future form the bulk of students getting places in Australian Government would be competing with the Malaysian parents in sending their children overseas for higher studies.
The DAP calls on the Education Minister, Datuk Abdullah Badawi, to vacate all the places reserved for government scholars in Australian tertiary institutions and make them available to private Malaysian students. All government scholars should be educated locally, as this would mean big savings in government expenditure, for it costs the government four times the amount to send scholars overseas than in local institutions.