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.