UMNO having a taste of their  own medicine of unparliamentary majority  tactics in Kelantan State Assembly although this does not make it right

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Tuesday): I have three  immediate reactions to the media reports of “kekecohan” in the Kelantan State Assembly yesterday, where the Opposition leader Datuk Mustapha Mohamed and his deputy Datuk Annuar Musa were barred from taking part in the assembly proceedings by the Kelantan State Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah over public comments the duo had made against him in the press: 

  • Firstly, that UMNO leaders are no different when they are in the opposition in creating “kekecohan” in legislative assemblies, which should be a salutary reminder to UMNO and Barisan Nasional MPs in future;
  • Secondly, that UMNO is having a taste of their  own medicine of unparliamentary majority tactics in the Kelantan State Assembly, which had been dished out to the Opposition in Parliament in the past, the most notable instance being the petty-minded, vindictive and most  unparliamentary six-month suspension without allowance  of the DAP MP for Batu Gajah, Fong Po Kuan in December 2001, seriously damaging the international reputation of Parliament and Malaysia; and
  • Thirdly, that at least the Kelantan Speaker  had not gone as far as  barring Mustapha and Musa from the Kelantan State Assembly and even withholding their state assembly allowance as happened to Fong Po Kuan.

However, despite these immediate sentiments, I am not  paralysed by the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, which often  afflicted Barisan Nasional leaders, for the decision of the Kelantan Speaker to unilaterally bar Mustapha and Musa  from asking questions or taking part in any debate in the Assembly unless they withdraw and apologise for their earlier remarks disputing his appointment as Speaker runs counter to  all parliamentary traditions and conventions - for Musa is right in his protest that the two were being punished even before they were given a chance to be heard.

Furthermore, any punitive action against the Assembly members which tantamount to depriving them of their rights and privileges to fully participate in the Assembly proceedings should only be made by the whole Assembly, and not by the Speaker himself, i.e. by reference of both to the Committee of Privileges with the remit to make recommendations to the whole Assembly.

It is important that nearing half-a-decade of independent nationhood, the greatest respect for parliamentary traditions and conventions should be developed in the Malaysian system of parliamentary democracy, whether at the Parliamentary or State Assembly level, with Members of Parliament and State Assembly members understanding and accepting that on questions  of parliamentary privileges, they should rise above party political differences and approach the issues solely from the standpoint of an MP or State Assembly member, so that we can develop a corpus of Malaysian parliamentary traditions and conventions which could set the reference benchmark for developing countries and even developed parliamentary systems. 

In the interests of developing and upholding such a corpus of parliamentary and state assembly traditions and conventions transcending partisan considerations, the Kelantan Speaker should terminate his unilateral and arbitrary restrictions imposed on Mustapha and Musa and refer their cases to the Committee of Privileges for examination before forwarding their  recommendations to the full Assembly.



* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Member of Parliament for Ipoh Timor & DAP National Chairman