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Samy Vellu's disclosure on the scandalous PMC must be treated seriously by the Cabinet and actions must be taken immediately to stop the 'bleeding of public funds'!


Press Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Kuala Lumpur,  Wednesday): One of the most important jobs of the Speaker is to balance the rights of the 9% minorities in the House, or of the rights of dissent, against the 91% majority, and to hold the balance between the Government and backbenchers. 

As the Leader of the House, the Prime Minister selects a candidate for Speakership. The Cabinet agrees with the choice. But, many backbenchers and opposition members are not informed. The way the Cabinet deals with this matter can be construed as against the principle of democracy. Autocracy of the Cabinet or Cabinetocracy cannot replace democracy among members.

 

As Barisan Nasional has 91% members, some say that to contest against the Cabinetís candidate (perhaps arranged as a secret deal), only means having the name mentioned in the Hansard (the parliamentary verbatim report), for a brief period of merriment. This is a serious matter. The Speaker is the Chairman of 218 members. He or she must uphold parliamentary sovereignty. 218 members must have the democratic rights to choose the best person for the post.

 

The Speaker has his own constituency. But, he cannot raise questions in the House on constituency issues. He has to go directly to the ministers.

 

Parliament has rights and privileges. Basically the members cannot be charged in court for what they say in the House. According to Article 80 of the Standing Orders, there must be select committees: the Committee of Selection, The Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Standing Order Committee, the House Committee and the Committee of Privileges. There may be Special Select Committee. Apart from PAC that has its own chairman, the Speaker chairs these committees.

 

In the heat of debate, situation can be very tense. Some members may be referred to the Committee of Privileges for alleged violation of privileges. The Speaker has to establish order and discipline. Hitherto, these committees do not have their own staffing and facilities. The Speaker must be impartial in dealing with all matters. He or she must also try to ensure adequate staffing and facilities.

(17/11/2004)


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong