Speech (2) by Lim Kit Siang on the first 2010 Supplementary estimates in Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday, 13th April 2010:
Shafie Apdal not fit to be Cabinet Minister and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Chairman if he does not know that an amendment to motion of thanks for royal address is customary parliamentary practice and not an assault on the institution of monarchy
Mingguan Malaysia on Sunday, 11th April 2010 carried the following report under the headline “Kit Siang wajar di kenankan tindakan”:
This is a most irresponsible and despicable politics by a top Umno leader and senior Cabinet Minister as well as current Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA).
In the first place, I did not try to amend the Royal Address. What I moved was an amendment to the motion of thanks for the royal address.
Shafie is not fit to be Cabinet Minister and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Chairman if he does not know that an amendment to the motion of thanks for royal address is customary parliamentary practice and not an assault on the institution of monarchy.
For the information of the CPA Chairman, motion of thanks for the royal address or its equivalent are regularly amended in established Commonwealth Parliaments, for the Royal Address is not the monarch’s personal address but the policy speech of the government-of-the-day setting out its programme for the year.
Any amendment to a motion of thanks is not an attack on the monarch or head of state but an opportunity to table new policies, programmes or perspectives that should have been included in the government’s policy speech.
In Lok Sabha in India, hundreds of amendments are moved every year to the Motion of Thanks for the President’s Address. For instance, for the year 1993, there were 932 amendments to the motion of thanks for the President’s Address.
Similarly, such amendments are regularly made to motions of thanks in Commonwealth Parliaments, whether House of Commons in United Kingdom or the Parliaments of Australia, New Zealand or Canada.
Even in Malaysia, I had occasion to move an amendment to the Motion of Thanks for the Royal Address in the Parliament meeting of October 1982, although it was rejected at the voting stage.
But is Shafie suggesting that the previous Prime Ministers, Umno Ministers and Parliament Speakers were traitors to the country and the Malay Rulers in attacking the institution of monarchy in allowing amendments to be moved in Parliament to motion of thanks in the past?
I do not think Shafie is so ignorant of parliamentary practices, procedures, convents and traditions, which makes his attempt to twist and distort my amendment to the motion of thanks in the current meeting of Parliament even more heinous and unforgivable.
He knows that my amendment to the motion of thanks constituted no attack whatsoever on the institution of Malay Rulers but he could be so without scruples, unprincipled and opportunistic as to distort the issue to mislead rural Malays to make them believe that I am anti-Malay and anti-Malay Rulers – all just to secure Malay votes in the forthcoming Hulu Selangor by-election.
This shows the desperate extremes UMNO leaders are prepared to resort to for political advantage for themselves and or Umno, which is facing a crisis of relevance and survival.
Whatever the reason, there can be no justification for the irresponsible and despicable politics practised by Shafie who should have the decency and honesty to admit that he was wrong in resorting to racist politics and distorting customary parliamentary practices in Malaysia and Commonwealth countries as an attack on the institution of Malay Rulers.
Shafie should apologise for his transgressions.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor