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  Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Monday, 17th November 2008 at 11 am: 

Why is the 30-year standing rule or of longer vintage that both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister should not be out of the country at the same being broken this week?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is in Uzbekistan for a four-day official visit, accompanied by his wife and Cabinet Ministers including Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Senator Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz (both from the Prime Ministerís Department), Datuk Shafie Apdal (Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage) and Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin (Higher Education). Abdullah will only return back to office for duty on Friday, 21st November 2008.

Tomorrow, the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will leave with another team of Cabinet Ministers for the 16th Apec Economic Leaders Meeting (AELM) in Lima, Peru, starting this week.

It has been reported that Najib will go ahead to New York from Peru and will only be back home early next month.

This would mean that for at least two days on Wednesday and Thursday, both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister would be out of the country at the same time Ė which will run counter to the 30-year standing rule or of longer vintage that both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister should not be out of the country at the same.

Why has this standing rule been broken this week?

Who will be the Acting Prime Minister in these two days when both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will be out of the country? It cannot be Tan Sri Muhyideen Yassin, who is the front-runner for the election for the Umno Deputy President, as he, together with the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, will be leaving together with Najib tomorrow for Peru.

Can it be the most senior Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok or the newly elected MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Kiat?

This is of course anathema particularly to UMNO MPs who cannot even accept the clear-cut constitutional position that the post of Prime Minister is open to any Malaysian regardless of race, religion or territory.

I do not know who will be minding the Prime Ministerís Office, but let the Prime Ministerís Office disclose to all Malaysians the number times since the past 30 years when both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister had been out of the country at the same time!


* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor