Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mr Speaker, Sir

We read and hear a lot about the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat refusing to allow debate on motions moved by the Opposition. The rejection of the urgent motion by the Opposition to debate the Port Klang Free Trade issue was the latest casualty of a perhaps overly enthusiastic exercise of control by the Speaker. This time the reason advanced (as reported by Malaysiakini) was that as the matter was being looked into by the Government, there was no need for a debate on the subject in the Dewan.

I believe that most, if not all, the motions moved by the Opposition in recent times have been on important matters, for the principle involved or otherwise. From sexist slurs to questioning the use or abuse of national funds, the matters raised could not be seen to be other than relevant to the national interest. I say this not because I support the Opposition but because of the significance of these issues, especially in a system like ours. The lack of transparency and the continued expectation on the part of Government that Malaysians accept the validity of its actions simply for it being the Government makes it all that much more important that the truth emerges.

The Dewan Rakyat represents the essence of government of the Federation. It is not just a legislative chamber. It is from its members that Cabinet evolves. It is in the Dewan that the deliberation and discussion by elected representatives so essential to the balanced governance of this nation is intended to happen. For this reason, parliamentarians are accorded immunity and privilege from criminal and civil sanction. Through frank and open debates, and the truth that emerges from these debates, it is intended that a certain measure of control be brought over Executive function, a control balanced by the vigilance of an independent judiciary. It is through the Dewan that control over public finance is intended to be exercised.

Were it otherwise, there would be arbitrary exercises of power.

Regrettably, when viewed in this context, the trend of rejections of Opposition motions by the Speaker is alarming. Bearing in mind that it is only the Opposition that appears to be interested in more than just propaganda and non-speak (how else can one characterize the performances of members of the Government) as is easily seen from the nature of the motions moved, the continued rejection by the Speaker is undermining the very institution he is charged with safeguarding.

The Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat enjoys great prestige, position and authority. He has extensive powers to regulate its proceedings under its rules of procedures with a view to maintaining orderly conduct of parliamentary proceedings and discipline and order. No debate is allowed on his rulings except on formal resolution. In all of this, the Speaker is much more than merely a presiding officer of the Dewan. He is the representative and spokesman of Parliament in its collective capacity and is the chief custodian of its powers and privileges (M P Jain).

Respectfully, the Speaker appears to have overlooked the beneficiaries of his trusteeship. He is the steward of the Dewan Rakyat for all Malaysians. The smooth, efficient and efficacious operation of the Dewan is a birthright of all Malaysians and a vital aspect of the governance of this country. Any interference with this process is an injury to the nation and to Malaysians. The continued rejection of motions vital to a clear understanding of the state of this nation is a process that can only lead us to ruination.

Let there be open and fair debate in the Dewan Rakyat, Mr Speaker, Sir.

MIS

11 comments:

ghostline said...

Hello Malik,

Whether the blatant partisanship shown by the Speaker is deliberate or because he is genuinely unable to understand the responsibilities of his role, I don't know. Both situations are almost equally ghastly, and one of them must be true.

My instincts lean toward the former... if true, the Speaker's actions constitute a gross abuse of power in Parliament, and hint at a more sinister agenda to further suppress any form of dissent against the ruling party/government.

Anonymous said...

legislation and executive is one of he same essentially. legisaltion branch is just an extension of the executive unfortunately in the case of malaysia now. the judiciary is no longer the independent branch that we know. the mainstream press is thumped into submission and is no more than a mouthpiece for the powers that be.
its illusory now about democracy and the role play of checks and balances of the various institutions. one of the consequences is the prevailing rampant corruption committed blatantly and at times openly by the powers that be and their cronies. how else can you explained when a mainstream paper tried to sanctify the scandalous happenings in PKA with this headline "NO HANKY PANKY" and justify with iffy reasoning that the project is feasible. You dont even have to complete Finance 101 to see thru that the government's RM4.6 billion "soft loan" is going down the drain as no project can be feasible economically after such rip offs.

MarinaM said...

Imtiaz, I recall that unlike the current Speaker, the former Speaker Tan Sri Zahir, was not a former politician ( wasn't he a judge?). Surely there must be some rule that bars former politicians from becoming Speakers on the grounds that they can never be neutral? Tan Sri Ramli Ngah Talib exemplifies why such a rule should be there.

Gan said...

I just wonder how can Malaysian ruling MPs hold their head high amongst their peers from other nations?

Anonymous said...

I'm really angry at myself for voting BN in the last election. I won't be making the same mistake again.

I find it disappointing that trivial issues take up so much of the parliament time while real issues aren't given enough attention.

If trivial issues are the only thing this parliament is good for, then in my humble opinion, we don't need the August house. A simple pondok and a dice would suffice.

Nicholas said...

HEAR! HEAR! Well said.

kas said...

Dear Malik

I hold the same view too. Too many of such incidents to be a coincidence.

Anonymous said...

His neutrality is questionable. After all he was ex-Menteri Besar of Perak, and an UMNO man.

The BN MP do not understand the function of a Parliament. Wasting time with trivialities is their hallmark (check out the youtube clips. See how people like Kayveas behave)

Anonymous said...

It is evident that change is necessary. How do we as the peoples of a nation that just celebrated its 50th independence institute change? I feel helpless except to exercise my patriotic duty to vote accordingly -- because a strong opposition is needed to keep the government in check. Yet, the opposition is clearly powerless in affecting much change. The Speaker of the Dewan is either corrupt (as his decisions are so obviously biased), or incompetent. How then, can the government be held accountable for its actions? The Malaysian government has evolved into a clique of a select few, immune from the law and with an agenda that is only self-serving.

This Merdeka day, though the leaders profess to be for the Rakyat, I can only shake my head in distrust, dismay and disillusionment. I am angry. Yet, I am helpless.

Mr. Smith said...

We have already reached a stage where
Executive = Legislature = Judiciary = UMNO.
The Speaker is good-for-nothing UMNO stooge.
Like the Senate, the Speaker's chair is reserved for "UMNO dropouts".
When he sit on the chair he thinks it is the UMNO General Assembly.

zorro said...

He ain't the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat....he is THE SPEAKER FOR UMNO. One needs to remember that he was a former Mentri Besar of my homestate Perak. During his tenure....nothing happened in Perak. How did a rejected Mentri Besar get appointed to this position speaks much for the quality of the Dewan Rakyat. Are we so deprived of QUALITY people. This speaker is a dead wood who became a drift wood. Drift wood are used nowadays for decorative purposes - thus his appointment.Can he be impeached? He is heading towards my Chamber, you bet.