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Threatening MPs outside the House on matters which ought to be resolved in the House does not speak well of Tun Zahir
 

Media Statement
by Karpal Singh  

(Kuala Lumpur, Friday): The question of replying to Speaker Tun Dr Mohamad Zahir Ismailís letter to me on 1 June to explain my reliance on the Statutory Declarations Act when objecting to MPs not raising their hand when being sworn in on 17 May does not arise. I will not be doing so for the simple reason that the Speaker is bound by the Standing Orders of the Dewan Rakyat as much as the MPs are. It took until 1 June to dawn on the Speaker to ask me for an explanation. His excuse that he looked into the matter when he found the time misses the point. I had raised the objection. He had overruled me as clearly reflected in the Hansard of 17 May. My mistake in not relying on the Oaths and Affirmations Act 1949 but the Statutory Declarations Act 1960 does not invalidate my objection. It was a question not of omission to take the oath, but opting to depart from the formality of raising oneís hand when taking the oath which was the issue. 

I am surprised the Speaker who was a High Court judge before becoming Speaker in 1982 was not aware of the requirement to raise oneís hand when taking oath. It is done all the time when witnesses take an oath before giving evidence in court. The Speaker must have observed this when he was a High Court judge and previous to that a practising lawyer for a long time. 

A Speaker has to be alert when in the chair. He should have matters resolved when they arise in the House and not rely on afterthoughts to write letters to MPs for explanations. This amounts to abuse of power, apart from dereliction of duty when in chair. The Speaker should not be petty. It is obvious that age is catching up on Tun Zahir who is 80 years of age. In my view, he ought to step down as Speaker. Threatening MPs outside the House on matters which ought to be resolved in the House does not speak well of the Speaker. Maturity has, of course, to be the hallmark of a Speaker of any legislature worth its name. 

(4/6/2004)


* Karpal Singh,  DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Bukit Gelugor