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Never felt more disgusted in my 32 years as MP
by Lim Kit Siang
Yesterday morning I told the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that the conflict-of-interest of the MP for Jasin, Datuk Mohd Said Yusuf when he asked the Malacca Customs and Excise Department to “close an eye” involving his company in the illegal import of sawn timber in Malacca will be the centerpiece of the last item of parliamentary business yesterday – as I will be speaking on it during the debate on the motion amending the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat.
At about 7 pm yesterday, in a conversation with MCA Deputy President Datuk Chan Kong Choy in the MPs’ lounge in the presence of Fong Po Kuan (MP for Batu Gajah), Chow Kon Yeow (Tanjong) and Lim Hock Seng (Bagan), Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng said that there will be another round of criticism of the Jasin MP in the motion to amend the Standing Orders.
This is because the motion on the amendment of the Standing Orders provides the opportunity to debate how Parliament manages its business, including the conduct of MPs – where the latest goings-on involving Mohd Said Yusuf can come under direct and intense scrutiny.
This was why Mohd Said Yusuf disappeared from Parliament by the evening. But he need not have made himself scarce, for Si Cheng did him a great service with a shot-gun end of the meeting at about 8.20 pm by rushing through the motion to amend the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders moved by Nazri to a vote, without opening it for debate as is the practice. When DAP MPs stood up to protest that a debate had not been held, he said the vote had already been taken, adjourned the meeting and left the Chamber.
Several DAP MPs were waiting to speak in the debate on the motion, including Chow, Po Kuan, Chong Eng (MP for Bukit Mertajam) and Teresa Kok (Seputeh).
Po Kuan and I went to protest to the Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah over the shot-gun end of the parliamentary meeting without any debate on the amendment to the standing orders.
Mohd Said will be very grateful to Si Cheng for saving him from another bout of embarrassment. UMNO will also be very grateful to Si Cheng for the Mohd Said scandal had been most demoralizing for UMNO/Barisan Nasional MPs in the past week, leading to the Shahrir Samad imbroglio as well as casting a dark cloud over the 60th UMNO anniversary celebrations in Johore Baru yesterday.
But this is not the job of a Deputy Speaker – to save the MP for Jasin and UMNO/Barisan Nasional from embarrassment because of their refusal to handle this scandal in a proper manner by referring it to the Committee of Privileges for investigation and recommendation.
The responsibility of the Parliament Chair is to be fair, impartial and facilitate proper debate of business before Parliament, and not to indulge in any parliamentary sleight-of-hand to save any MP or the ruling coalition parties from embarrassment solely of their own doing. There can be no excuse for Si Cheng in not opening up the motion for debate, especially when he knew that several DAP MPs wanted to speak on it.
Si Cheng had done Mohd Said Yusof, UMNO and Barisan Nasional a great service in saving them from embarrassment. But he had done the office of Speaker, Parliament and the National Integrity Plan a great disservice!
If not for Si Cheng’s shotgun operation, I would have spoken at length in the debate on the motion to amend the Standing Orders as proposed by the Standing Orders Standing Committee, covering three aspects:
I would have started my speech deploring the sexist misdemeanour of Mohd Said yesterday morning, indulging in irresponsible sexist innuendos, as reported by Malaysiakini’s “Opposition ‘bad character’, says Jasin MP” as follows:
Moving on with his debate, Said claimed many local performers and dancers
were ‘soft’ and said the proposed academy should address the issue.
The comment sparked off another round of pandemonium with shouting from both BN and opposition MPs. Lim invoked the standing order and said the remark is sexist and offensive but no action was taken.
I would have called for an amendment to the Standing Orders to make it a breach of privilege for MPs to indulge in sexist innuendos inside the Chamber, requiring them to be automatically referred to the Committee of Privileges as well as requiring them to attend compulsory gender sensitization courses.
On Mohd Said’s conflict-of-interest breach of privilege in the illegal import of sawn timber from Indonesia, I would have made the following points or raised the following queries:
Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP
Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission