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My four  2006 New Year Wishes – First-World Parliament and Cabinet, World-Class Public Service and Universities


Media Statement ( 2)
by Lim Kit Siang  

Parliament, Saturday): Happy New Year to all Malaysians. 2005 is ending generally with a sour note – with the injustice of the Moorthy conversion case and the farce of Parliament where the Senate was blackmailed into passing the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) (Amendment) Bill although the 12 woman Senators opposed it.

There were other sour endings to the year, whether the lack of accountability for the write-off of over RM500 million in a year in Proton’s acquisition of Italian motorcycle manufacturer, MV Agusta SpA or the RM648 million mega-losses of Malaysian Airlines for  the first six months of its current financial year.

I have four 2006 New Year wishes – to  see  major strides towards the achievement of a First World  Parliament and  Cabinet, and  World-Class Public Service and Universities.

After almost two years, parliamentary reform has yet to take-off towards  a First-World Parliament.

The year-end row over the Islamic  Family Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill has highlighted one important development which had not been generally  noticed.

In the current Parliament, DAP MPs have made it very clear that bills on Islamic Law in a plural nation  like Malaysia is not merely the concern of Muslim MPs but all MPs regardless of religious beliefs as they concern Malaysians.

In the two-day debate on the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill on Sept. 22 and 26, two of the 12 MPs who took part in the debate were non-Muslim MPs, and they were both from the DAP – Teresa Kok (Seputeh) and Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah).

Both Teresa Kok and Po Kuan were limited to 10 minutes each, but they succeeded in referring to the five contentious provisions which further undermined the  status of Muslim women and the family institution, and which formed the centerpiece of the women Senators’ protest after a last-minute briefing by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAGGE).

In contrast, not a single one of the other 10 MPs who spoke in the Dewan Rakyat, including two UMNO MPs who spoke for more than one hour each, touched on anyone of the five contentious provisions at all.

The new year will decide whether the Malaysian Parliament, with 92 per cent Barisan Nasional parliamentary majority,  can become a First-World Parliament where Parliament is regarded by Malaysians as the centre of political and legislative developments and not just a rubber-stamp of the Executive.

However, it is a  revamped and downsized First World Cabinet which is what Malaysians hope to see in the first month if not the first week  of the new year, as the procrastination by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to get rid of deadwood not committed to government reform  is casting a dark and long shadow on his administration.

Whether Malaysia can  break from the bad habits of the old to create a world-class public service, with a new culture of public integrity with zero tolerance for corruption, and  world-class universities, will determine our international competitiveness and our ability to face up to the challenges of globalization to take our proper place in the global arena.


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

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