by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General, MP for Tanjung and Assemblyman for Kampong Kolam, Lim Kit Siang, IN Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 1986:
Barisan Nasional MPs are ‘convinced’ not by the reasons for the OSA Amendment Bill, but by the ‘whip’ of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.
The meeting of the Barisan Nasional MPs with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, yesterday on the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill is a great disappointment.
The people were led to believe that a few courageous and principled Barisan Nasional MPs would be taking up the cause of democratic rights and fundamental liberties, and also raise the cogent and valid objections to the Bill advanced by various groups like NUJ and the Bar Council, in the meeting with the Prime Minister.
But from all accounts, it was a very tame and one-sided affair, with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, laying down the law that all Barisan MPs must support the Bill. Although Barisan MPs after the meeting, like Batu Berendam MP Tamrin Ghaffar, claimed that they are now ‘convinced’ on the need for the Bill, it is clear that the Barisan Nasional MPs had not been ‘convinced’ by the reasons, but by the ‘whip’ brought out by the Prime Minister.
Challenge to Barisan Nasional backbenchers to a public debate with MPs on the need for the OSA Amendment Bill.
It is a great tragedy for Malaysia that we do not have Barisan MPs who are prepared to put national interest above party interest, and everyone, including those who had previously expressed reservations, will now toe the party line.
How can the Barisan Nasional MPs get the respect of the people and their constituents when they have to vote for the OSA Amendment Bill, not because they are really convinced that it is good for the country, but because they have been ordered to do so by the Party Whip, and afraid to defy for fear of being thrown out of Barisan Nasional?
If Barisan Nasional MPs claim that they are truly convinced about the need for the OSA Amendment Bill after the meeting with the Prime Minister, the DAP challenge the Barisan Nasional backbenchers to a public debate with the DAP MPs, before the Bill comes up for second reading in Parliament on Dec. 5 or 8. If the Barisan Nasional backbenchers could arrange for Stadium Merdeka for a football match between the Barisan Nasional backbenchers and the Ministers, and even have it telecast over RTM last Sunday, it should have no difficulty in arranging for a venue and facilities for such a public debate.
I am confident that Barisan Back-Bemchers’ Club (BBC) would not dare accept this DAP challenge, that the Group of 46 UMNO MPs headed by Datuk Mohamed Rahmat, MP for Pulai, would also evade the challenge – for the simple reason they either know little about the OSA and the Amendment Bill, or in their heart of hearts, they agree that the Bill is too draconian, oppressive and undemocratic.
I still hope that in the Barisan Nasional parliamentary ranks, there are still to be found a few MPs who will not allow Party’s Whip to compel him to support a Bill which would destroy one of the underpinnings of democracy in Malaysia, render Article 10(1)(a) on the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression meaningless, as freedom of speech and expression has no meaning without freedom of information.