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Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs are committing parliamentary contempt almost every day as a result of new Standing Order 36(12) forbidding “misleading” statements
What is even more shocking and outrageous, the majority of the Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs who dominate 92% of the parliamentary benches, are unaware and ignorant that there is such a new Standing Order – as illustrated by one BN MP after another standing up earlier this week to ask why DAP MPs are invoking S.O. 36(12) when there is no such Standing Order!
This is the because of the disgraceful episode on the last day of the May meeting of Parliament, where Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng violated all parliamentary rules, conventions, practices and procedures to effect a shot-gun passage of the amendments of the Standing Orders without allowing for any debate.
This has elicited the legitimate question as to how the 26 million Malaysians can have faith, confidence and trust in the present batch of MPs to pass good laws for the country, when they could be so irresponsible in enacting Standing Orders regulating the conduct of parliamentary proceedings?
The past week is indeed not a good week for Malaysian Parliament if it is serious in wanting to make the quantum leap to become a “First-World Parliament” as part of national effort to achieve a “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” Malaysian nation.
The new Standing Order 36(12) which had been surreptitiously inserted and enacted without the conscious knowledge of the overwhelming majority of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and MPs, read:
“36 – (12) – Mana-mana ahli yang mengeluarkan kenyataan yang memesongkan adalah dianggap menghina Dewan dan boleh dirujuk kepada Jawatankuasa Hak dan Kebebasan atas kesalahan tersebut”.
“36 – (12) – Any member who makes a statement which is misleading is deemed to be in contempt of the House and may be referred to the Committee of Privileges for the offence.”
It will not be difficult to go through the parliamentary proceedings of the past four days this week to draw up cases where Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs have committed parliamentary contempt almost every day by violating this new Standing Orders prohibiting the making of “misleading” statements.
A good example will be the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who had made the “misleading” statement in Parliament on Tuesday during question-time denying that there are “phantom voters” in the country.
Replying to the DAP MP for Seputeh Teresa Kok Suh Sim, Nazri had totally disregarded the 2001 judgment of Justice Muhammad Kamil in the election petition case which resulted in the disqualification of former Sabah Chief Minister, Yong Teck Lee, as Sabah State Assemblyman for Likas, giving judicial notice to the existence of “phantom voters” in Sabah.
In his judgment, Justice Muhammad Kamil said:
“The instances of non-citizens and phantom voters in the electoral roll disclosed at this trial may well be the tip of the iceberg.”
The election judge said that a “phantom voter” means that “the voter is a non-citizen who is in an electoral roll by virtue of a fake identity card or identity card obtained illegally”.
“It is common knowledge that an influx of illegal immigrants has plagued Sabah for some years. It is a well known fact as it had appeared in the local dailies too frequently….
“The exposure of fraudulent practices such as massive registration of phantom voters is time consuming. However, it has to be done if we wish to defend and preserve the meaningful practice of democracy in Malaysia. As custodians of free and fair elections, the SPR (Election Commission) is duty bound to do it.”
For Nazri therefore to deny the existence of “phantom voters” is to violate the new Standing Order 36(12) in giving a misleading statement, which has become a parliamentary contempt to be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
Will Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs who are committing parliamentary contempt almost every day be referred to the Committee of Privileges, or is this new Standing Order only to be used arbitrarily and selectively against the Opposition MPs, as had happened to Karpal Singh, MP for Bukit Glugor, who was unfairly suspended for six months without allowance?
DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan has submitted a substantive motion to review the Deputy Speaker’s decision and unparliamentary conduct in his shot-gun passage of amendments to Standing Orders without debate on May 11, 2006, creating the ridiculous situation where Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs are committing parliamentary contempt almost every day in Parliament.
If the May 11 amendments to the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders are not to continue to live in Malaysian parliamentary history as a chapter of embarrassment and shame, there should be a proper closure to this issue with a proper and extensive debate on the amendments – which, under the circumstances, could only be done by allowing Po Kuan’s substantive motion to review Si Cheng’s unparliamentary conduct to come up for debate.
Standing Order 36(12), causing Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Parliamentary Secretaries and BN MPs to commit parliamentary contempt almost every parliamentary sitting should be scrapped. – or the Privileges Committee would be drowned with complaints for investigation.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman