DAP welcomes the government’s   more open and consultative parliamentary  and legislative approach in moving towards the Select Committee system which is  a significant first step to restore the doctrine of the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang, Thursday): DAP welcomes the path-blazing decision of the Cabinet yesterday on a Select Committee comprising Barisan Nasional  and Opposition MPs to seek public opinion on proposed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code touching, among others, on the police powers of arrest, the time allowed for investigations and a broader definition of rape. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Nazri Aziz in the  New Straits Times report today “Public to have a say in changes to law” said that from now on, Malaysians will have a say in changes to important laws. 

Nazri said that the Cabinet decided a Select Committee should be formed because the changes to the CPC affected many people. 

Even more laudatory, Nazri said the establishment of the Select Committee was part of the government’s effort to get people involved in the decision-making process, although his announcement  that “the government is moving towards Select Committees” is somewhat spoiled by the highly controversial qualification   that it is “only for  very important amendments”.

The government’s   more open and consultative parliamentary  and legislative approach in moving towards the Select Committee system is nonetheless  a significant first step to restore the doctrine of the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and judiciary. 

During my meeting with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya on Tuesday on parliamentary reform and modernization, we also discussed the question of a Select Committee when he briefed me about his meeting earlier that morning with representatives of 21 non-government organizations (NGOs) inviting their participation and contribution to amend laws to counter the disturbing increase of sex crimes. 

The establishment and institutionalization of the Select Committee system in Parliament should be one of the major innovations in a far-reaching programme of parliamentary reform and modernization to make the Malaysian Parliament a “First World Parliament” – in keeping with the pledge by Abdullah to eradicate the Malaysian malaise of “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality”. 

The Cabinet, Parliament and the Malaysian people must be fully conscious of the fact that other Commonwealth and world Parliaments have undergone several generations of parliamentary reforms and modernization in the past half-a-century, while for this period, time has stood still for the Malaysian Parliament as far as parliamentary reform and modernization are concerned. 

Both the Cabinet and Parliament should look at practices in other Parliaments and countries where parliamentary Select Committees have become an integral part of the legislative process – with every piece of legislation being first examined by parliamentary bodies which are the equivalent to departmental or ministerial Select Committees. 

Another measure of the government’s greater openness and commitment to the consultation process is the acceptance by Nazri of the invitation to be a speaker and panellist on the subject of “Parliamentary Reform” in the first DAP National Consultation on “Agenda for First World Parliament” in Petaling Jaya on Sunday, 16th May 2004. 

Among other speakers who have agreed to present their views at the one-day Consultation are: 

  • Prof K. S. Jomo (Economist) --- Economic Issues, Trends and Challenges
  • Raja Aziz Addruse (Former Bar Council President, Former HAKAM President) --- The Rule of Law & the Doctrine of Separation of Powers – a Restoration
  • Tunku Abdul Aziz    (President of Transparency International Malaysia) --- National Integrity Plan and the Role of Parliament in Fighting Corruption
  • Tan Sri Abdullah Ahmad (Former NST Editor-in-Chief) --- Media in First-World Democracy
  • G. Rajasekaran (MTUC Secretary-General) --- Malaysian Workers and the Effects of Globalization
  • Prof Syed Hussein Alatas (Former UM Vice-Chancellor, academic) --- Education and Democracy
  • Shanti Dairiam (Executive Director of International Women's Right Action Watch) --- Women in Malaysian Politics and Women’s Rights

To ensure that the 11th Parliament can start off on a right footing, where MPs, regardless of party affiliation, are prepared to find common ground in the national interest, I wish to formally and publicly  invite Members of Parliament whether from the Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternative to the Consultation at Crystal Crown Hotel, Petaling Jaya, which is open to the public,  at the registration fee of RM60 (one lunch and two teas) and RM25 for students (limited places only). 

It is hoped that the National Consultation on “Agenda for First World Parliament” can also provide a forum for MPs, whether Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternative or DAP, to interact with concerned Malaysians on a very important subject for the country if Malaysia is serious about wanting to become a fully developed nation in 16 years under Vision 2020. 

During my meeting with Abdullah on Tuesday, among the issues we  discussed were: 

  • Live telecast of parliamentary proceedings;
  • Daily two-hour question time;
  • Prime Minister’s Question Time twice a week;
  • An Opposition Deputy Speaker;
  • An Opposition MP heading the Public Accounts Committee (PAC);
  • Parliamentary Select Committees;
  • Allocation of a weekly Opposition Business slot;
  • Modernisation and democratization of Standing Orders.

It was reported in the media yesterday that illegal foreign bookmaking syndicates  are flocking to Malaysia because of the interest generated by the almost daily live telecasts of football matches from Europe. 

Malaysian leaders and parliamentarians should give serious thought as to why there is such resistance and objection to the live telecast of parliamentary proceedings when live telecast of football matches, Formula 1 racing and other sporting events are so commonplace and an almost daily occurrence in Malaysia.  

There is at present provision for two Deputy Speakers in Parliament.  Former deputy speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng has confirmed that he would be re-appointed while the MIC President, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said early this month that MIC had been asked to propose a candidate for the second slot, with speculation focusing  on MIC MP for Subang, Tan Sri K.S. Nijhar. 

If this is  true,  MIC will be having a second Deputy Speaker after D.P. Vijandran and it will also mean that only one of the nine MIC MPs, S.K. Devamany (Cameron Highlands) would not have a federal post, which is quite ridiculous. 

I hope that the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Parliament are  prepared to initiate a change in mindset in handling  parliamentary matters, as by accepting an Opposition MP as one of the two Deputy Speakers to underline a  more collaborative, consultative and co-operative  approach among MPs in the new Parliament. 

If there could be agreement to appoint an Opposition MP as one of the two Deputy Speakers, among the candidates DAP will propose are the DAP MP for Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran and DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Chong Eng. 


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