All MPs, whether Barisan
Nasional or Opposition, should be allowed a free vote for the election of
the new Speaker based on the best person for the job and not on blind party
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz yesterday confirmed that the government has proposed former Perak Mentri Besar Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib for the post of Dewan Rakyat Speaker when Parliament meets next Monday (Nov. 22), setting the stage for the first contest for the Speaker’s election in the 45-year history of the Malaysian Parliament.
All Members of Parliament, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, should be allowed a free vote for the election of the new Speaker based on the best person for the job and not on blind party loyalty or discipline to demonstrate in a most dramatic manner Parliament’s commitment to take the quantum leap to become a First-World Parliament. This will be the greatest contribution MPs can make to support the pledge of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to eradicate the “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” disease which impedes and threatens the achievement of Malaysia’s Vision 2020 to become a fully-developed nation.
The Prime Minister should publicly declare that Barisan Nasional MPs are allowed to vote freely according to their conscience and judgment as to who of the two candidates, Ramli and the Opposition nominee Dr. Tan Seng Giaw (DAP – Kepong), will make a better Speaker of Parliament at a time when Parliament must restore its institutional independence, credibility and integrity and regain the powers it had lost to the Executive in the past few decades.
Although Seng Giaw is an Opposition candidate for Speaker, I fully agree that DAP and Opposition MPs should be allowed to vote freely between the two candidates.
To assist MPs, whether ruling coalition or opposition, to come to their decision as to who will make a better Speaker, the two candidates, Ramli and Seng Giaw, should spell out their vision, commitment and passion for the challenge of transforming the Malaysian Parliament into a First-World Parliament, and their ideas of parliamentary reform and modernization, what should be the role of Parliament in giving meaning and substance to the slogan of “Cemerlang, Gemilang and Terbilang”, and in particular, whether Parliament should be in the forefront in the campaign against corruption and to create a new political culture of zero tolerance for corruption whether in Parliament or outside.
MPs as well as Malaysians in general want to hear from both Ramli and Seng Giaw their views, programmes and vision for a First-World Parliament as Speaker-aspirant. Seng Giaw has been spelling out his views on parliamentary reform and modernization in the past few days but Ramli has been conspicuously silent and quiet up to now. It is time for Ramli to break his silence.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman