Urgent fax to PM before Cabinet meeting tomorrow on five important issues which should be addressed by Parliament before end of first Parliament session next week
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Tuesday): I have just rushed by urgent fax a five-point letter to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi before the Cabinet meeting tomorrow on five important issues which should be addressed by Parliament before the end of the first Parliament session next week.
The five issues are:
1. Debate for Motions No. 54, 55 and 56 on today’s Order Paper
That the Government agree that priority be given to Items No. 54, 55 and 56 in today’s Order Paper for the Dewan Rakyat to allow these three motions to be debated before the end of the present budget meeting, which will be in keeping with the Prime Minister’s pledge to lead a clean, incorruptible and accountable government and to uphold the fundamental principle of the separation of powers. If necessary, the parliamentary meeting could be extended by one or two days.
Item No. 54 concerns government accountability of Project Management Consultant (PMC) and non-PMC government development projects; No. 55 concerns a substantive motion to review the Speaker’s decision and No. 56 concerns a privilege motion about the integrity and ethical benchmark for a Member of Parliament, especially after the Anti-Corruption Agency has taken more than two months to discover and recognize money politics in political parties as corruption and a crime under the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.
2. Chairman of Public Accounts Committee
Deputy Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Najib Razak said in Kota Kinabalu yesterday that there is no reason for an Opposition MP to head the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as the Barisan Nasional commands more than 90 per cent of the parliamentary seats which should be reflected in the appointment.
If this is the basis for appointment of PAC Chairman, then there would not have developed the world-wide parliamentary convention and tradition in the overwhelming majority of Parliaments where the PAC Chairman is headed by an Opposition MP, particularly in countries where effective parliamentary scrutiny of the executive and government accountability on public expenditures are taken seriously.
The Prime Minister should support a quantum leap in the progressive development of parliamentary practices in Malaysia to more effectively hold the Executive to account by agreeing to the appointment of an Opposition MP as PAC Chairman. There should be no further delay in appointing the PAC Chairman, which should be filled before the current meeting ends, or the PAC would not be able to meet for the next three months until the appointment of the new PAC Chairman in the March meeting of Parliament, when there are so many pressing and urgent matters awaiting PAC scrutiny.
3. Tabling of United Nations Convention against Corruption for ratification
December 9 marks the first anniversary of the day that the United Nations Convention against Corruption was first opened for signing in Merida, Mexico in 2003.
Malaysia was one of the 113 countries which signed the milestone convention on global efforts to combat corruption in Mexico. However, the UN Convention against Corruption requires ratification by 30 countries for its entry into force as an active and legally binding instrument for states. So far, only twelve states have ratified the Convention and Malaysia is not one of them.
As the triple Chair of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and ASEAN, Malaysia should take the lead to ratify the UN Convention against Corruption, and for this reason, the UN Convention against Corruption should be tabled in the current meeting of Parliament for ratification, so that Malaysia will be among the first 30 countries to bring the UN Convention against Corruption into active force.
4. Ratification of International Criminal Court (“Rome Statute”)
The Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar today presented for first reading the Chemical Weapons Convention Bill to implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction 1993.
The Cabinet should as a matter of urgency address the outstanding issue of the International Criminal Court (ICC). In April 2002, the 1998 Rome Statute (ICC) received 60 ratifications necessary for its entry into force, but Malaysia is not one of them. As triple Chair of NAM, OIC and ASEAN, Malaysia must live up to its international responsibilities to ratify the Rome Statute, which should be presented to the current meeting of Parliament for ratification before it adjourns.
5. Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs
A motion in the name of the Foreign Minister on the issue of Palestine and to convey the condolences of Parliament on the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was circulated in the Dewan Rakyat this afternoon.
DAP supports the tabling of a government motion on Palestine and on Arafat, which is most proper and appropriate, especially as Malaysia currently assumes unprecedented international responsibilities as the triple Chair of NAM, OIC and ASEAN.
It will be a very long time – probably never again - before Malaysia will be “triple Chair” of international organizations like NAM, OIC and ASEAN, and it is bounden on the Malaysian Parliament to rise up to the occasion to be in the international forefront to articulate world concerns about the leading issues of humanity, be it the Middle East, South Thailand or Burma, or other pressing issues like United Nations reform, war and peace, globalization, development and poverty.
The Prime Minister should support the urgent establishment of an all-party Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs before the end of the current meeting to enable Members of Parliament, both government and opposition, to begin to play a more active role in the formulation and articulation of policies and positions on international questions.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman