Opposition will strongly oppose any proposal to appoint Muhammad Taib as Parliament Speaker as it will seriously tarnish Parliament’s image, credibility and integrity

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Parliament House, Thursday): The Opposition will strongly oppose any proposal to appoint UMNO Information chief and former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib as the new Parliament speaker as it will seriously tarnish Parliament’s image, credibility and integrity. 

Muhammad Taib’s name is  among those mentioned as likely candidates for the post of Parliament Speaker following the death of Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail.  Malay Mail on Tuesday listed  Muhammad Taib as among the favourites for the post – others being Public Accounts Committee Chairman Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Rais Yatim and Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Dr. Abdul Hamid Pawanteh.


Muhammad Taib’s appointment as Parliament Speaker will be a cynical abuse of the nine-tenth parliamentary majority of the Barisan Nasional, as there is no way Malaysians and the world can be convinced that a person who is not deemed qualified to be a parliamentary or state assembly candidate in the past two general elections because of his A$1.2 million escapade in Brisbane in 1996 should now be considered suitable and qualified to be Parliament Speaker.


It is most regrettable that there has be no response to my call to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to consult with the Opposition on the appointment of the  new Speaker of Parliament.  I have in fact written to the Prime Minister more than a week ago, asking for an appointment to discuss this and other urgent issues, but I have not received any reply.


Although the Barisan Nasional, with its  nine-tenth parliamentary majority, can on its own decide who should be the new Speaker, the Prime Minister should respect parliamentary convention and consensus to appoint a Speaker who has the full support of all MPs, both government and opposition.


The new Speaker should be able to rise above partisan party considerations to develop and uphold a parliamentary tradition and culture to transform the  Malaysian Parliament into a first-world Parliament, which could be a model for developing countries whether in the Non-Aligned Movement or the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), for both of which Malaysia is currently chair.


For this reason, the candidate for the new Speaker of Parliament should be one who has the vision, commitment and passion to make the Malaysian Parliament a first-world Parliament through far-reaching parliamentary reforms and modernization. 


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman