Gross abuse of powers and disregard of the Standing Orders by Penang Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, is the root cause of the unprecedented uproar in the Penang Assembly yesterday

Press Conference Statement by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, at DAP Hqrs in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 12th June 1990 at 12 noon

Gross abuse of powers and disregard of the Standing Orders by Penang Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, is the root cause of the unprecedented uproar in the Penang Assembly yesterday

I am calling this press conference to put the record straight as to the cause and events leading to the unprecedented uproar in the Penang State Assembly yesterday, resulting in the suspension of four DAP Assemblymen from the Assembly.

Firstly, I want to categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation by the Penang Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, that the DAP had deliberately pre-planned for the suspension of the DAP Assemblymen one by one “to disrupt and embarrass” the Assembly.

This is a ridiculous and most unworthy allegation coming from Dr. Lim Chong Eu. If the DAP had ‘hatched a plot’ to get our Assemblymen suspended from the Assembly one by one, then why did we stop at four, and not continue with the plot until all the 10 DAP Assemblymen were thrown out of the House one by one?

If anyone had ‘hatched a plot’ for yesterday’s Assembly, then it is Gerakan and the Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, who must have been instructed by the Gerakan leaders (even without the knowledge of Dr. Lim Chong Eu) to suspend DAP Assemblymen from yesterday’s proceedings.

Ean Kwong’s ‘political masters’ in Gerakan, like Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, must have thought that if I was suspended from the Assembly, all the other nine DAP Assemblymen would collectively stage a walk-out in protest, and allow the State Assembly to rush through its business in a matter of a few minutes.

I find Chong Eu’s intemperate language in his press conference yesterday most uncharacteristic of his behaviour during the entire hour of my altercation with the Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, for at that time, Chong Eu publicly expressed disagreement with the manner Ean Kwong had conducted that I could not be suspended from the House without a motion being put to the vote by the Assembly.

Clearly, Chong Eu wanted to play politics, and did not want to miss the opportunity to make cheap political capital out of yesterday’s events in the State Assembly.

The whole responsibility and blame for the fracas in the Penang State Assembly must be placed fully and squarely on the Penang Speaker, Datuk Ooi Ean Kwong, because of his gross disregard of the letter and spirit of the Standing Orders and his gross abuse of powers.

Ean Kwong thought that as Speaker, whose decision is final, he could do what he liked, including arbitrarily misinterpreting his own powers under the Standing Orders.

For yesterday’s Assembly meeting, Ean Kwong was at his worst in abusing his powers as Speaker and misinterpreting his powers under the Standing Orders.

Firstly, he rejected questions put in by DAP Assemblymen without proper grounds. Secondly, after accepting DAP motions and putting them on the Assembly Order Paper, he changed his mind and arbitrarily rejected the motions and unilaterally altered the Assembly Order of Business.

It is this gross abuse of powers and utter disregard of the Standing Orders by the Speaker which sparked off the uproar in the Penang Assembly yesterday.

Before question time started, I rose to ask the Speaker why he had rejected my question asking the Chief Minister for criteria used by the State Executive Council to select nominees to be presented to the State Assembly to be appointed a Senator, and also whether the State Government would agree to have State Senators elected by the voters.

Ean Kwong said he had already given his reason for rejection to me in writing, and that his decision as Speaker was final.

I said that although the Speaker’s ruling was final, the Speaker had no right to abuse his powers. The reason he had given me for rejecting the question was that it was not the Executive Council, but the State Assembly, which appointed the Senators. This was clearly a ridiculous reason, as I was asking the basis for the State Executive Council recommending a Senator-elect to the Assembly.

I asked Ean Kwong whether he was afraid that the Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, would not be able to answer this question, in view of the fact that recently, even the Gerakan leaders in Penang had attacked Chong Eu for the appointment of his son, Lim Chien Aun, as Senator?

I contended that the Speaker’s rejection of my question was improper, and asked that the question be reinstated on the Order Paper.

Ean Kwong just insisted that his ruling was final and could not questioned. At this, I remarked that we must all account for our actions and that we could not act like the Gerakan President, Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik, who could openly tell lies.

At this, Ean Kwong demanded that I withdraw the word ‘Pembohong’ failing which he would invoke his powers as Speaker under Standing Order 51(1) to order me out of the House.

I contended that the word ‘Pembohong’ is not unparliamentary. I was prepared to be referred to the Committee of Privileges, and I will prove Dr. Lim Keng Yaik is a liar. How could a truthful statement become unparliamentary? If Keng Yaik is a liar, are only Assemblymen allowed to call him a saint, instead of calling a spade a spade?

I said that I was prepared to go to court in publicly calling Keng Yaik a liar and I was not going to withdraw the word in the Penang Assembly.

I also told Ean Kwong that he could bear testimony that Keng Yaik is a liar. Only a few minutes before I entered the Chamber, I was shown yesterday’s China Press report, where it was reported that Keng Yaik told a post-Gerakan General Assembly press conference in Kuala Lumpur that when I was in detention in Kamunting, he sent Ean Kwong to visit me ‘to find out whether I needed Gerakan help to secure my release, and to tell me not to waste my time in the Opposition and to join the Barisan Nasional’.

I said that was further proof of Keng Yaik as a liar, and asked Ean Kwong to publicly state whether what Keng Yaik said about his visit to me in Kamunting was true or a lie.

Ean Kwong however dared not respond on this matter, although it directly affected him. I declared in the Assembly that if Ean Kwong had come to Kamunting to visit me to ask me to join the Barisan Nasional, I would have thrown him out of Kamunting!

Ean Kwong invoked Standing Order 51(5) and then Standing Order 51(1) and asked the Senior Executive Councillor, Datuk Haji Abdul Rahman Abbas to move a motion to suspend me from the House.

After Abdul Rahman had moved the motion, Ean Kwong adjourned the Assembly for five minutes.

During the adjournment, two Assembly attendants came to my seat and said the Speaker wanted to see me in his office. I refused, and said the Speaker could see me in the Chamber.

The two Assembly attendants returned to say that the Speaker asked me to leave the Assembly. I said that the Speaker must follow the Standing Orders procedure, and that he had no right to ask me to leave the Chamber as the motion to suspend me had not been put to a vote.

The two Assembly attendants returned again to say that the Speaker was asking me to leave, not under the motion, but under the personal powers. I said that once the motion had been moved, the Speaker had no more personal powers I made I very clear that I would willingly leave the Assembly, once the motion had been properly put to the House and voted upon. I said that what Ean Kwong should do was to come out of his office, take the Chair in the Assembly and put the motion to a vote.

During this 50-minute ‘adjournment’ with the Speaker sending his two attendants to and fro from his office to my seat, the Chief Minister, Dr. Lim Chong Eu, was in his seat opposite me and never left the Chamber.

Chong Eu publicly agreed with me that the motion moved by Abdul Rahman had not been put to a vote, and was not yet valid and in force. Chong Eu also sent the State Legal Adviser and several Exco members to advise the Speaker that he must come out to put the motion to a vote.

Finally, Ean Kwong came out, and Abdul Rahman re-moved the motion to suspend me from the House. I stood up and said that I was prepared to leave as the motion had been passed, but I wanted to know for how long was my suspension, whether it was for one minute, one hour or for the rest of the Assembly until the next general election.

The Speaker refused to say for how long I would be suspended, which caused me to express my great regret that there were people in the Assembly who were prepared to defend a liar knowing that he is a liar.

I had stood up to collect my papers to leave when I found that a police officer, the OCPD of Georgetown, Asst. Com Ali Abu Bakar, had come into the Assembly.

This was most shocking. I had made it very clear right from the beginning that I would leave the Chamber once the motion was properly passed.

Ean Kwong has brought great dishonour and shame when he turned the Penang Assembly into a Police Assembly by calling in Police to swarm the Assembly and Chamber

I was even more shocked when I found that the whole Assembly grounds was teeming with uniformed and plainclothes police personnel when I came out of the Chamber, turning the whole Penang Assembly into a police cantonment.

It is now clear that during the 50-minute ‘adjournment’, the Speaker had also summoned the Police to send police contingents as if the Assembly was under attack by the Red Army!

I find this episode, the turning of the Penang Assembly into a police cantonment, the most disgraceful in the history of the Penang Assembly. Ean Kwong has brought great dishonour and shame to the Penang Assembly by turning it into a Police Assembly!

When the Speaker has to summon entire police contingents to camp out at the Penang Assembly, he has clearly failed in his duties as a Speaker. A Speaker with a sense of self-dignity would have resigned in shame before subjecting the Penang Assembly to the great dishonour of being swarmed by the Police as happened yesterday.

What is even more shocking, the Speaker allowed the Police to enter the Chamber as if this could intimidate the DAP Assemblymen into submission and accept weekly his gross abuse of powers and misinterpretation of the Standing Orders.

I am shocked to learn that after I had left the Chamber, the Police laid their hands on the Assemblyman for Berapit, Chian Heng Kai. It is this shocking police action in the Assembly against an elected Assemblyman which provoked the Assemblyman for Glugor, Karpal Singh, in throw the Standing Orders at the Speaker, for clearly Ean Kwong did not know or care for the Standing Orders.

I agree that Karpal Singh should not have thrown the Standing Orders at Ean Kwong, but Ean Kwong should realise that he had created a most intolerable situation with his willful and arbitrary abuse of powers and misinterpretation of the Standing Orders.

Ean Kwong became so eviction-happy that he also suspended the Assemblyman for Pangkalan Kota, Teoh Teik Huat.

I read in the press that Ean Kwong had announced that I am suspended from the Penang Assembly indefinitely – which means I could be suspended from attending any Penang Assembly meeting until the next general elections.

I know that Ean Kwong is now mortally frightened of my attending the Penang Assembly sitting, for I will insist that he give a full accounting of his visit to me in Kamunting, and to publicly state that Keng Yaik had lied when the Gerakan President said that Ooi Ean Kwong visited me in Kamunting to persuade me to abandon the Opposition and join Barisan Nasional.

This is because when Ean Kwong visited me in Kamunting, he came in his capacity as Penang Assembly Speaker, and it was on this basis that he was given permission by the Ministry of Home Affairs to see me. During the whole period of Ean Kwong’s visit to me, there was a Kamunting Detention Centre official who was present.

As Ean Kwong visited me in Kamunting in his official capacity as Penang Speaker, the Penang Assembly has a right to know the nature of his visit.

I had never mentioned in my speeches or statements anywhere about Ooi Ean Kwong’s visit to me in Kamunting. It is Keng Yaik who talked about it, so as to add to his new catalogue of lies.

Penang DAP to hold state-wide ceramahs to explain about Ean Kwong’s suspension of four DAP Assemblymen yesterday

The DAP will hold ceramahs throughout the Penang state to explain about the suspension of the four Penang Assemblymen from the Assembly yesterday, and why Ooi Ean Kwong is so afraid of my returning to the Assembly that he has got me suspended indefinitely until the next general elections.

Let me tell Ean Kwong that it is the people of Penang and Kampong Kolam who want me to be in the Penang State Assembly. It is Ean Kwong an the Barisan Nasional in Penang who will have to justify to the people of Kampong Kolam and Penang why I am denied my rightful place in the Penang Assembly when the next general elections come.