Abdullah should withdraw the Whip and  Cabinet tomorrow withdraw its directive to the 199 Barisan Nasional MPs compelling them to vote for Ramli as Speaker as it is improper Executive interference in parliamentary matters  and latest example of violation of the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers 

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Ipoh, Tuesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and all Members of Parliament, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, should rise up to the occasion so that history could be made in Parliament on Monday not once but   four times in the election of the new Parliament Speaker following the death of the longest-serving Speaker Tun Mohamad Zahir on October 14, viz:

  • Contested election for Speaker first time in 45-year history of  Malaysian Parliament;

  • Removal of the Whip in Parliament first time in the nation’s history to allow MPs, whether ruling coalition or Opposition, to vote according to their own conscience and best judgment for the best candidate for Speaker, without having to comply with any party directive or discipline;

  • A giant step forward to restore Parliament’s role as the highest political and legislative chamber of the land, as  intended by the 1957 Merdeka Constitution and in accordance with the fundamental democratic principle  of the separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary by shifting back to Parliament many of its powers and responsibilities which had been eroded by the Executive  in the past few decades; and

  • A clear signal to the nation and the world that Malaysia under the fifth Prime Minister is serious and committed about creating a “First World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” culture and environment starting  with Parliament as  a “First World Parliament”.

I am surprised by the comments of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz whose approach to the election of the Speaker is purely from the standpoint as to which candidate can command more votes along party lines, rather than which candidate is more suitable and qualified to be Speaker for a Parliament wanting to become a First-World Parliament through an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of parliamentary reform and modernization. 


Nazri is confident that the Barisan Nasional candidate, Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib would emerge as Speaker despite the Opposition candidature of Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, as the Barisan Nasional commands over 91% of the 219 parliamentary seats and  the Cabinet has directed all Barisan Nasional MPs  to turn up in full  force on Monday to vote for Ramli.


The Cabinet tomorrow should retract such a directive to the 199 Barisan Nasional MPs compelling them to vote for Ramli as Speaker, for such a Cabinet directive is most improper,  unparliamentary and most deplorable,  being the latest example of the violation of the doctrine of separation of powers and principle of supremacy of Parliament.


When  MPs cannot even freely vote for the best candidate to be Parliament Speaker, in accordance with their own conscience and best  judgment, and must submit to the party whip to vote for Ramli as Speaker regardless of whether he is the best person for the post, then all talk of wanting to have a “First-World Parliament” and to respect and uphold the fundamental constitutional principle of the separation of powers among the Executive, Legislature and Parliament are totally hollow and meaningless.


Abdullah should withdraw the Whip and  Cabinet tomorrow withdraw its directive to the 199 Barisan Nasional MPs compelling them to vote for Ramli as Speaker as it is improper Executive interference in parliamentary matters  and the latest example of violation of the fundamental constitutional principle of separation of powers.


Let all MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Opposition, be allowed to vote freely to choose the new Speaker, based on the comparison of  the vision, commitment and passion conveyed by Ramli and Seng Giaw to make the Malaysian Parliament a “First World Parliament”.


I will contact Nazri tomorrow to suggest a public meeting before Monday where both Ramli and Seng Giaw  can appear before Members of Parliament, NGO representatives and interested members of the public  to spell out their respective vision, commitment and passion for parliamentary reform and modernization to transform the Malaysian Parliament into a first-world Parliament.  A most proper and suitable venue would be in Parliament House itself, probably on Sunday, as there is no provision for any debate on the election of the Speakership when Parliament reconvenes on Monday.


An issue of great public interest is Ramli’s views on what should be Parliament’s role, whether it should be in  the forefront,  to support the Prime Minister campaign against corruption. 


This is particularly pertinent as Ramli had been Perak Mentri Besar for 18 years from 1981 to 1999, and there had been various allegations of scandals under his leadership of the  Perak state government, which had been made both inside and outside the Perak State Assembly, and which had not been given full and satisfactory accounting or rebuttal to date.


Perak DAP State Assembly Opposition Leader, Ngeh Koo Ham, for instance, had listed four scandals which occurred during Ramli’s tenure as Perak Mentri Besar which still await proper explanation in accordance with the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance, viz:


The Kampung Meru Tin- Jelapang Scandal


Ramli approved a piece of land where there were  169 existing houses built thereon to a private developer! These are houses of former workers of Meru Tin Limited which has ceased operation. These houses have been issued Temporary Occupation Licenses yet he approved it to another, a private developer.


Pasir Salak Historical Complex


The state government under Ramli spent RM40 million in this project and is now almost abandoned.  The manner in which the land was acquired was questioned by the Auditor General’s office.  Ramli has yet to give proper rebuttal of serious conflict-of-interest allegations.


Kampung Tersusun Jelapang Tambahan


Alienating the land where 126 families are residing to a private developer. These families were resettled in the area by the Government in 1971 when they had to move from Jalan Diary and Jalan Silibin in Ipoh. Instead of issuing separate individual titles to these residents, Ramli alienated it to a private developer.


Land in Pusing


Many families in Pusing now face eviction though they have been staying there for more than 70 years. Temporary Occupation License (TOL) were issued to them even before the present Perak State Government came into existence when the nation achieved Independence. It was during Ramli’s  tenure that these lands were approved to private developers at the expenses of existing residents.


Ramli should give full and proper accountability of all these allegations of scandals under his tenure as Perak Mentri Besar, so as to protect the good name of the office of Speaker of Parliament for which he is contesting.


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