DAP calls for a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution to vet all proposed amendments to the Constitution before they are brought to Parliament to allow for fuller study by MPs of the implications of the constitutional amendments
Media Statement (3)
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Friday): Members of Parliament, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, have all been caught by surprise by media reports today quoting the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Radzi Sheikh Ahmad of a special meeting of Parliament next month to amend the Federal Constitution to empower the Federal Government to take over the water jurisdiction from the state governments, raise the retirement age of judges from 65 years to 66 and concerning heritage.
It is most improper and disrespectful of MPs, to say the least, to spring such a surprise when MPs, who had been meeting for three months since Sept. 1 in the current 2005 budget meeting, knew nothing about the special sitting of Parliament next month – as the least Radzi should have done is to have given MPs prior notice so that MPs can, among other things, plan their schedules and programmes for early next year with the minimum of disruption. Radzi owes all MPs an apology for such a shabby treatment.
After the March general election, MPs were promised that they would be given adequate time to study Bills before debate, and there was also the specific promise by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz that no bills would be suddenly introduced during mid-meeting for debate and passage, not giving MPs adequate time for consultation, research and study before debate.
But such promises had not been kept. On Monday (6th December 2004) for instance, a new bill, the Skills Development Fund Bill, was presented in the Dewan Rakyat for first reading and this Bill is to be debated and passed the coming Monday, 13th December 2004.
The next day, Tuesday (7th December 2004), the Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar 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, which is intended for debate and passage by the coming Tuesday – again without giving adequate time for MPs for consultation, research and study before debate.
DAP calls for a Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution to vet all proposed amendments to the Constitution before they are brought to Parliament to allow for fuller study by MPs of the implications of all the constitutional amendments.
As the special sitting of Parliament is meant to be held somewhere in the middle of January, the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Malaysian Constitution should be set up before the end of the current budget meeting scheduled on Tuesday, so that the new Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution can examine the constitutional amendment proposals in the next three to four weeks.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman