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Keng Yaik and  Gerakan should stop being cowardly and craven and live up to its claim as  “conscience” of BN and  take principled positions  on two fundamental  issues in the Samad Shahrir-Mohd Said imbroglio
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Media Statement (2)

by Lim Kit Siang  
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(
Parliament, Monday) : It has taken Gerakan, which prides itself as the “conscience” of the Barisan Nasional, ten days  to declare its stand on the Shahrir Samad-Mohamad Said imbroglio – and it has produced a mouse of a response as its  “conscience” position  has turned out to be a a great disappointment.

The Gerakan stand taken after its  central committee meeting yesterday and announced by the Gerakan President Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik was most cowardly, craven, shameful, disgraceful and completely  without “conscience”.

This is because it skirted the two   most importance principles in question::

  • The Barisan Nasional rule that its MPs cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line;
     
  • That whether an MP had committed a breach of parliamentary privilege can only be decided by the Committee of Privileges and Parliament and not by any other external body, and for this reason,  BN MP for Jasin, Datuk Mohd Said  Yusuf must be referred to the Committee of Privileges as to whether he had committed breach of parliamentary privileges in intervening with the Customs Department to “close one eye” in connection with his own company over the illegal import of sawn timber from Indonesia.

If Keng Yaik and Gerakan are not prepared to take a principled and honourable  stand on these two issues,  then Gerakan can forget about claiming to be the “conscience” of Barisan Nasional.

Can Keng Yaik explain when the Gerakan leadership accepted the  feudal and undemocratic rule that BN MPs cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line?

Isn’t it true that there had never been such a rule for BN MPs until it was declared on 8th May after the UMNO Supreme Council -  four days after the  Shahrir Samad saga on May 4, 2006 taking a lone stand among Barisan Nasional MPs to support my privilege motion against the Jasin MP and resigning as Chairman of Barisan Nasional BackBenchers’ Club (BNBBC)  in protest at the failure of support from other BN MPs?

On the very day when my first privilege motion was rejected (May 4), MCA MP for Gopeng Dr. Ting Chew Peh told me that he would have voted for the privilege motion if a division of the vote had been taken.  He said there were other BN MPs who would have done the same. This was because there was no party whip or directive how to vote on the issue.  There couldn’t have been a rule barring BN MPs from supporting Opposition motions, whether right or wrong, if the former MCA Secretary-General, Vice President and Cabinet Minister was not aware of it!

On that day itself, Shahrir made it clear that his resignation as BBC Chairman was solely on the issue of principle that he could not get the support of other BN MPs on an important issue concerning parliamentary privilege, integrity, autonomy and independence. He did not say a word about breaking BN rule or defying BN discipline.

In fact, the question of Shahrir having breached party discipline and violating the BN Whip also never occurred to the Minister for the Prime Minister’s Department , Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who in a press conference later on the same day (May 4) called on Shahrir to retract his resignation and reminded him to respect the majority decision in the House.

Nazri said: "I hope he doesn't think that (when backbenchers do not join him) the backbenchers are casting aspersions on his leadership. The motion is too general and usually, we don't support a motion tabled by the opposition." (Malaysiakini 4.5.06)

If the rule that BN MPs  cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line  was  made only at the UMNO Supreme Council on May 8, why didn’t Keng Yaik asked for an urgent meeting of the Barisan Nasional Supreme Council to review and scrap such a feudal and undemocratic ruling – as expected of a party which claims to be the “conscience” of BN?

Keng Yaik should know that such a rule can only produce mindless BN MPs without conscience, resulting in their becoming mere puppets and parasites, which is completely antithetical to the Ninth Malaysia Plan thrust to create a “first class mentality” to achieve the Vision 2020 objective of a fully-developed nation with first-world Parliament, first-world public service, first-world judiciary, first-world universities and other first-world national institutions.

Keng Yaik said Gerakan supported the setting-up of a Parliamentary Select Committee to establish ethical guidelines on the proper conduct of elected representatives to spell out guidelines to what extent elected officials can help their constituents and the consequences should an MP breach them.

This is a most ridiculous stand, when  the issue in question is not whether MPs can or should help constituents, but whether they could abuse their parliamentary privilege by interceding with government agencies to the extent of asking them to “close an eye” in cases where they have a direct personal financial interest.

If Gerakan wants to continue to be the “conscience” of BN, it must stop its cowardly and craven stand on the Samad Sharir-Mohd Said imbroglio and take a clear, honourable and principled stand on two issues:

  • firstly,  against the  feudal and undemocratic rule that  BN MPs cannot support Opposition motions whether right or wrong and cannot vote according to their conscience but must toe the party line; and
     
  • secondly, regardless of Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) investigations into the corruption aspects and  Barisan Nasional Whip investigations into whether there was any breach of party discipline vis-ŕ-vis the MP for Jasin, both these investigations cannot usurp the powers and jurisdictions of the  Committee of Privileges and Parliament to be the sole judges on whether Mohd Said  had breached parliamentary privileges.


(15/05/2006)     
                                                      


*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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