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My strong reaction against Lim Si Cheng is justifiable

Press Statement
by Teresa Kok Suh Sim


(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): Today I have been busy with an international conference with the theme of “Colloquium on Good Governance, Rule of Law and Human Rights – The Way Forward for ASEAN”, organized by the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Caucus on Good Governance at the Parliament House, where I have been helping up in the secretariat all these while.

While I was busy entertaining the foreign participants of the conference by showing them around in the Parliament House, I was shocked to see in the Parliament TV screen the Speaker of Dewan Rakyat YB Tan Sri Ramli Ngah making a long ‘opening speech’ and giving his ‘warning’ to MPs by citing the incident on last Thursday when Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng stopped me from speaking during the Committee Stage debate on the Federal Territory Ministry.

Tan Sri Ramli Ngah expressed regret that I have argued with Lim Si Cheng when he stopped me from speaking. He said that it is the right of the Speaker to limit the speaking time of MPs, especially when the Dewan Rakyat already behind schedule. He mentioned me (Seputeh) and said that I shouldn’t have brought the incident out of the Dewan Rakyat and cast aspersion against Lim Si Cheng. He also said that the word ‘you’ or ‘awak’ and ‘me’ or ’saya’ should not be used in the debate, but MPs should refer or call each other according to constituency name. He said he hoped such an incident would not happen again.

I was told that Ramli Ngah’s criticism was followed by the supporting remarks from the MP of Muar who slammed me for highlighting the incident in my blog, but I didn’t manage to watch his speech.

I could have gone into the chamber and argue with him, but I chose not to do so because I have to bring the foreign participants back to the conference room at the upper floor of the Parliament House. However, I joined Kit Siang and my other DAP MPs for press conference later and said my piece later.

My strong reaction against Lim Si Cheng is justifiable

I have no regrets with my strong reaction against Lim Si Cheng last Thursday because:

i) There were very few MPs who were interested to participate in the debate of the Ministry of Federal Territory. Lim Si Cheng should have given priority to MPs in Federal Territory. Since there were not many MPs who were interested in that debate, he could have given us, the FT MPs, a bit of extra time to speak.

Lim Si Cheng, as a deputy speaker of the lower house and a former MP, should know that when a MP comes with a prepared text in the Dewan Rakyat, he/she is serious in bringing up issues in the Parliament. The reason I wrote my speech for the debate was to make sure that I would not deviate from the issues I wanted to deliver and I can speak within the stipulated time. Lim Si Cheng should have given me, a FT MP, some extra time to speak.

If you read the Hansard of that day or the recorded debate on my blog earlier, you can read/hear Lim Si Cheng asking me not to read the text from my laptop, but to just speak. Is it the role of a Speaker of Dewan Rakyat to tell a MP whether to read from a laptop or to speak off the cuff? If it is so, then I have to wonder why ministers, deputy ministers and parliamentary secretaries are allowed to read from their prepared text and not just to speak when they reply our speeches and questions. I further wonder why BN backbenchers are not stopped from reading prepared text.

ii) I was the last MP called by him during the FT Ministry committee stage debate on that day. As I read from a prepared text, one will have seen that I did not rabble in my speech or beating around the bush, but I was raising up all the people’s issues in Kuala Lumpur in my speech. In fact, I was speaking at a faster tempo then usual because I was trying my best to deliver my whole speech within a short time span. Why must he keep interrupting me when I was delivering my speech? There is no reason for him to rush at all.

What I don’t understand is, why do the Speaker/ Deputy Speakers allow many BN MPs to deliver long-winded speeches that were out of the scope of the debate during the committee stage debate, but Lim Si Cheng has to interfere while I was delivering my speech, stop me to continue my speech and even asked me to leave the house while I retorted against him?

iii) Tan Sri Ramli Ngah expressed dissatisfaction that such incident has been brought out of Dewan Rakyat. I think what he meant was that I have spoken to the media and published it in my personal blog. Yes, I issued a press statement and put the statement on my blog. I did so because I owe the people of Seputeh and the people of FT an explanation.

My answer to this accusation are, the exchanges between Lim Si Cheng and I in the Dewan Rakyat last Thursday morning has been observed by all MP, government officers and journalists inside and outside the chamber. As an elected people’s representative (wakil rakyat), I have promised some hawkers/ constituents to raise certain issues during the FT Ministry debate. Since I have been stopped by Lim Si Cheng from doing so, it is my right and duty to tell my fellow constituents that I have failed to do so by telling them what had happened via the media and my blog. I am merely exercising the spirit of accountability as a Member of Parliament. In a democratic country, the rakyat are the bosses of MPs and the government. Surely I am not wrong to report to my bosses on what had happened in the Parliament, especially when I was stopped to speak up on people’s issues, and even asked by Lim to leave the Dewan Rakyat (keluar dari Dewan)?

In fact, after the exchanges with Lim Si Cheng in the Dewan Rakyat, Lim privately told some of my MP colleagues to advise me not to raise the matter to the media. I have already done so when I received their calls. However, even if they managed to get me before I issued my statement and talked to the media, I would not have agreed because the journalists have been asking me to comment when I stepped out of the Dewan Rakyat. I was informed by a member that the TV3 noon time news has even reported the exchanges between Lim Si Cheng and me, my member said that he has never seen me reacted in such an angry manner.

If Lim doesn’t want a bad publicity about him in the media, then he should have first learned to respect the MPs, especially MPs who are serious in their duties in bringing up people’s issues in the Parliament.

I wish to stress here that I have no intention to make Lim Si Cheng look ugly in the press or in my blog. I always respect MPs who hold higher office than me, be it ministers or speakers. However, respect need to be exercised on a mutual basis. If I feel that I have been insulted and not being respected, I will not remain silent.

Lim Si Cheng is both a senior MP and Deputy Speaker. I will certainly give him due respect if he can also learn to respect me and my other colleagues and let us perform our duty as Parliamentarians, and of course, be reasonable when he chairs sitting.


*Teresa Kok Suh Sim, DAP Publicity Secretary & MP for Seputeh

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