In the next ten days, the two candidates for the post of Parliament Speaker,
Ramli Ngah and Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, should spell out their vision, commitment
and passion on parliamentary reform and modernization to transform the
Malaysian Parliament into a first-world Parliament so that Malaysians in
general and MPs in particular can decide who will make a better Speaker
- at the DAP Deepavali Celebration
by Lim Kit Siang
(Ipoh, Thursday): In the next ten days, the two candidates for the post of Parliament Speaker, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib (Barisan Nasional – Pasir Salak) and Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (DAP – Kepong) should spell out their vision, commitment and passion on parliamentary reform and modernization to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a first-world Parliament so that Malaysians in general and MPs in particular can decide who will make a better Speaker.
When Parliament reconvenes on November 22, the first item of parliamentary business will be the election of the new Parliament Speaker, to fill the vacancy created by the death of Tun Mohamad Zahir Ismail, who had been Speaker for 22 years, on October 14.
This will be the first time in the 47-year history of the nation after 11 general elections that there will be a contested election for the post of Parliament Speaker and it should be regarded as an important milestone in the national endeavour to prepare Malaysia to face up to the millennium challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technologies in the 21st century by eradicating the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” which is root cause of the multiple national ills facing the country.
The way the new Parliament Speaker is elected, the issues considered when making the selection, will be an acid test whether Malaysia is ready to join the ranks of the fully-developed nations, as it will be an occasion for the government, Parliament and the nation to demonstrate whether they are serious in wanting to develop the mindset and culture of a fully-developed nation by eradicating the “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” disease. The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had rightly pointed out that this “First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality” malaise is the serious impediment to Malaysia’s achievement of national greatness and the goal of Vision 2020 to become a fully-developed nation by 2020.
Dr. Tan Seng Giaw will hold his first media conference in Parliament House tomorrow at 10 a.m to spell out his vision of parliamentary reform and modernization and the role of a Parliament Speaker in these challenging times, as to how Parliament can move away from its role as a rubber-stamp of the Executive to play a meaningful and important role as the highest political and legislative chamber of the land.
In the past few decades, the doctrine of separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary had suffered great erosion, and there must be Herculean efforts to restore both the independence and autonomy of both Parliament and the Judiciary.
This is why the election of the new Parliament Speaker has come at a most critical and crucial stage in the history of Malaysian parliamentary democracy, whether Abdullah’s pledge when he became Prime Minister last November that he would uphold and respect the doctrine of separation of powers and the independence and premier role of Parliament as the apex of the political system will be honoured.
Let Ramli and Seng Giaw both spell out their views and visions as to how Parliament could be fully restored to play its role as the highest political and legislative chamber of the land. We talk of our system of government as a parliamentary government, where the Executive is controlled by Parliament. In actual fact, it is the Executive which controls Parliament through the exercise of a most unhealthy nine-tenth parliamentary majority.
MPs and Malaysians should hear from Ramli and Seng Giaw what should be the new Speaker’s role in trying to restore to Parliament so many of its powers which had been taken away in the past few decades by the Executive, so that Malaysia can have a First World Parliament.
In fact, I call on the Information Minister, Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir to arrange for live telecast of debates for Ramli and Seng Giaw to spell out their respective vision and programme as Parliament Speaker, with interaction by MPs and members of the Malaysian public. It will be ideal if there could be a series of three debates. If such a live telecast of public debates on the election of the Parliament Speaker could be held, it will mark a greater maturity of the Malaysian democratic process.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman