Speech by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Dap Secretary-General and MP for Tanjong, Lim Kit Siang, at the opening of the Johore dap State Convention in Segamat on Sunday, 22nd October 1995 at. 10 a.m.
The amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders to curb and restrict the parliamentary rights and role of opposition MPs is one adverse consequence of the Barisan Nasional. landslide victory in the April general election
Last Wednesday, the Barisan Nasional used its five-sixth majority in Parliament to ram through araconian and undemocratic amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders to curb and restrict the parliamentary rights and role or opposition MPs.
This is one adverse consequence of the Barisan Nasional landslide victory in the April general election – which should be a reminder to Malaysians that without a strong and effective Opposition in Parliament, their democratic rights and freedoms would suffer serious erosion.
It is fortunate that six months after the April general election, the .DAP achieved a quick turn-around in the Bagan by-election where the DAP won with a stunning majority of 11,802 votes, which was 10U times the majority the dap won in the con-stituency in the April general election.
The message of the voters of Bagan to the Barisan Nasional was loud and clear – that they want both democracy and development.
However, it is impossible for one DAP win in a by-election to undo the disastrous April general, election results.
This was why the Dap could not completely block the passage of the draconian and undemocratic amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders, although the original proposals proposed in the August. Parliament were watered down.
Thus, MPs could now continue to ask 20 oral questions and not the live which had been proposed, However , the DAp could not stop the amenaments “which effective “Killed” the opportunity for opposition nfs to raise motions of “urgent, definite public importance” to highlight .current developments and issues.
Previously, MPs need to give only four hours notice for a motion of urgent, definte public importance, but now Mps have to give from 24 to 48 hours notice in practical terms which will destroy the element of “urgency” in such motions.
The emasculation of the rights of MPs to act as a “check and balance” on the government through these draconian and, undemocratic amendments to the Parliamentary standing Orders is also a good illustration why electing -more MCA mps is only a gain to the MCA and the individuals concerned, but. a great loss to democracy and the nation as a whole.
In fact, the majority of the Mca mps do not understand the real meaning and contents or the draconian and undemocratic amendments to the Parliamentary Standing Orders – and they need not understand, for their only role is to be “yes-men” and “yes-women” to provide the vote in Parliament during voting time. The five-sixth Barisan majority in Parliament is not a force for democracy but a real threat in-stead.
The five-sixth Barisan Nasional majority in Parliament is not a force for democracy but a real tnreat instead.
It may be no coincidence why the Parliamentary Order papers were not ready until the first day or Parliament itself last Monday – which had never happened in the past when the DAP had a stronger Parliamentary representation.
Although Barisan Nasional leaders talk about account-ability and transparency, they have not respected these two principles as far as making public impending legislation.in Parliament is concerned.
For instance, the Minister for band and co-operatives, Datuk Osu Sukam had said that the government had finalised amendments to the Land Acquisition Act 1960 and would present the amendment. bill to the current meeting of Parliament, However, up to now, there is no sign of the bill and MPs would probably be given two or three days notice of the contents before a debate is fixed to pass it into law.
This is a most objectionable, unaccountable and un-transparent way of formulating, debating and passing new legislation – but there is no complaint or unhappiness whatsoever among the Barisan Nasional MPs who make up the unhealthy and negative five-sixth majority in Parliament.
Again there had been a lot of talk about, major revi¬sions to the election laws, in view or the widespread disatisraction about the electoral system during the April general elec¬tion, whether on registration of voters, appearance of phantom voters, abuses at postal ballots, the unfairness of election campaign period or the politics or money to buy votes.
However, there are again no signs whether any such legislative programme would be presented to the current t-Parliamentary meeting.
Call on cabinet meeting on Wednesday to take a new policy decision to require all new regislative proposals to be made public to anew for at least one month or public discussion and feedback
The worst, example of government refusal to comply with the principles of accountability and transparency in the field of legislation is the new Education Bill 1995, which the government. has taken some 10 years to formulate and yet is not prepared to give the nation and the public at least, two months to study and react.
It is only a few days ago that Malaysians learn that the current .Parliamentary meeting will not only be passing the new Education bill 1995, but three other legislations concerning education as well, namely: the new National Higher education council Bill, the new Private institutions or higher education bill and the universities and university Colleges Act Amendment bill.
I call on the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday to take a new policy decision to require all new legislative proposals to be made public to allow for at least one month of public discussion and feedback , and for important legislation like the four bills concerning education, two full months must be given for public study and feedback.
Furthermore, adequate time must be provided to allow for a thorough and wide-ranging debate in Parliament for important legislations like the four Bills concerning education.
DAP is asking for at least two days to be reserved for each education bill for debate in Parliament , which will mean a total of at least eight days of debate for the four education bills.
UMNO, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other Barisan MPs who hold a commanding five-sixth majority in Parliament should declare whether they support the DAP proposal for eight days to be set aside for Parliament to debate the four education Bill.