by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and Mp for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Parliament House on Saturday, March 21, 1987:
Barisan Nasional should not use its overwhelming majority in Parliament to trample on parliamentary practices and conventions and should learn to respect and honour the spirit of parliamentary democracy
Yesterday’s adjournment of Dewan Rakyat where two adjournment speeches by DAP MPs, Chian Heng Kai (Bukit Mertajam) and Lim Guan Eng (Kota Melaka) were “killed” is another example of how the overwhelming majority of Barisan Nasional in Parliament is used to trample on parliamentary practices and conventions.
MPs gave advance notices for their adjournments speeches, and prepare for them, and it is an insult to the electorate and the whole system of parliamentary democracy where parliamentary practices are perverted to deny their delivery. It is time that the Barisan Nasional learn to respect and honour the spirit of parliamentary democracy, and realise that its overwhelming majority in Parliament is a great trust and responsibility, and not weapon to entitle them to trample on parliamentary practices and conventions.
If the Dewan Raykat Speaker, Tan Sri Zahir Ismail, was going to “kill” the two adjournment speeches, why didn’t he contact the two DAP MPs concerned and let them know before hand – and the reasons for such parliamentary ‘murder’?
The Speaker must be the custodian of parliamentary spirit, practices and conventions and not be willing party to the ‘tricks’ of the Barisan Nasional majority in to their over-clever parliamentary games to mess/ around with parliamentary practices and conventions.
It must be a matter of grave concern that this role of the Speaker of Parliament is not assiduously upheld. DAP MPs are very unhappy, for instance, about the way the parliamentary questions are being emplaced.
As question hour is the most important parliamentary means to hold Ministers to account for their portfolios, there seems to be a conspiracy to deny the full meaning of the question hour during the recent parliamentary meeting where questions DAP MPs on embarrassing subjects like the BMF scandal, UMBC shares transaction of Daim Zainuddin, Finance Minister and his family companies, the Maminco tin-buying scandal and the $660 million loss; the Co-operative Finance Scandal, were placed at the bottom of the questions list numbering some 100 questions each day. As a result, there was no chance whatsoever for these questions to be answered orally, where MPs could pursue the subject by supplementary questions – allowing only written answers to be given. Many of these questions were submitted earlier than other questions which were ‘innocuous’ enough to be put on the list to come up for oral answer.
The placement of questions for oral answer to enable them to be asked during the question time must not be done capriciously, arbitrarily and with a eye to the political embarrassment content. The DAP MPs will be sending a protest memorandum at the way DAP questions, particularly on important issues like the various scandals, had been treated.
In this connection, to ensure that the Speaker does not come under any suspicion of allowing his office to be influenced by party political considerations, I would suggest that the Speaker should withdraw from the post of Chairman of the UMNO Party Elections Committee, for his playing such a role is completely incompatible with his office and duties as Speaker of Dewan Rakyat, and from all active party activities during his tenures as Speaker. Let us build up a tradition of Speakers relinquishing all party political activities during their term of office.