What parliamentary charade!
What I had feared most has indeed come to pass – and what happened in Senate yesterday invokes Shakespeare’s immortal lines in Macbeth: “It is a tale, Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.””
Also come to pass was my warning yesterday, viz:
“BN Senators who have won new respect from Malaysians for daring to speak up to oppose the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC (National Security Council) Bill will forfeit their new-found public respect and admiration in a matter of 24 hours if they are not prepared to act on their conviction and vote for reference of the Bill for further study and amendment, as the NSC Bill in its present form is a blight on constitutional democracy in Malaysia.
“Which is better, to speak boldly against the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill but to submissively vote in favour of the NSC Bill in the Senate; or to act like the BN MPs in the Dewan Rakyat, to keep their silence for the elected BN MPs know from the very beginning that they have finally to vote obediently for the NSC Bill, whatever their inner reservations and objections to the draconian Bill?”
I have to qualify my statement yesterday as the elected Barisan Nasional MPs in Dewan Rakyat need only be ”very envious and even jealous that their counterparts in Dewan Negara are allowed to speak up about their objections and reservations about the NSC Bill which they were not allowed to do when the NSC Bill was debated in the Dewan Rakyat on Dec. 3” only for 24 hours, as the Senate has been quickly reduced to its original form as no more than a rubber stamp after the parliamentary charade in the NSC Bill debate in the last two days.
Malaysians can never understand how some of the Barisan Nasional Senators, especially those from Sarawak and Sabah, could speak be with such conviction, passion and even righteousness about the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill during the two-day Senate debate, but were so meek, tame and submissive when they were “led to the slaughter” during the voting of the NSC Bill!
They were even so vociferous in shouting down by voice vote DAP Senator Chandra Mohan’s motion to refer the NSC Bill to a Select Committee to ensure that the Bill is not an unconstitutional monstrosity which not only usurps the constitutional powers of the Yang di Pertuan Agong, the Cabinet, the Sarawak and Sabah state governments with regard to the autonomy promised in the 1963 Malaysia Agreement, the eleven State Governments, but also the many guarantees and fundamental liberties entrenched in the Constitution.
The “outspoken” BN Senators have adopted “lock, stock and barrel” all the objections to the Bill from the constitutional, democracy and human rights aspects which have been articulated by Opposition Members of Parliament and civil society leaders, but this has not prevented the BN Senators from submissively voting for the NSC Bill at the end of the debate.
Are the BN Senators such great actors or pretenders?
Some UMNO Senators attacked me in the Senate yesterday for asking whether the BN Senator’s new found courage in speaking up on the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill was genuine or parliamentary charade.
They claimed that they “spoke from the heart”. If so, they had not voted in accordance with the wishes of their heart and none of them seems to be heart-broken!
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who shepherded the NSC bill through Parliament, said the NSC Bill will not make the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a dictator.
He also said that a sadist will not be appointed as Director General of the NSC.
But such promises in Parliament are easily made and of little value, as it was a Senator from Sarawak who reminded the Senate of the promise by the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman to Parliament in 1960 that the purpose of the Internal Security Act was “to be used solely against the communists” and how such a promise in Parliament was infamously broken.
Shahidan promised that the government would look into the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill raised by the Barisan Nasional Senators, but how genuine are such assurances when Shahidan dismissed the very same concerns of Opposition MPs and the civil society when the NSC bill was rushed through the Dewan Rakyat on Dec. 3 like a “thief in the night” without proper prior notice or consultation?
Parliament will be seriously remiss in its duties, and MPs from both Houses in serious violation of their oath of office, if they allow the NSC Bill to be put on the statute book, despite its many weaknesses, flaws and dangers just on the unenforceable promise of the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, who is not even a member of the NSC, that the government would consider the views of the MPs.
If Shahidan is sincere an d serious in wanting to improve the NSC Bill to address the many weaknesses, flaws and dangers highlighted by MPs in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, he should seek the agreement of the Cabinet to withhold the NSC Bill from presentation to the Yang di Pertuan Agong for his Royal Assent until there have been appropriate amendments to the NSC Bill.
The Cabinet should set up a special committee to include Members of Parliament from both sides of the House to propose new amendments to the NSC Bill, which can be presented to the Special Parliament which will be convened at the end of January to consider approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
Two days have been fixed for the Special Parliament at the end of January for the TPPA debate. This Special Parliament at the end of January should be increased to four days to allow for a two-day debate on the amended National Security Council Bill which should incorporate amendments to address the weaknesses, flaws and dangerous of the present NSC Bill highlighted by both Houses of Parliament.
DAP and Pakatan Harapan Members of Parliament are prepared to co-operate in such a special committee to propose new amendments to the NSC Bill for presentation to the Special Parliament at the end of January before the Bill is presented to the Yang di Pertuan Agong and gazetted to join the statute book.
The question is whether the Najib Government is prepared to reciprocate this offer from DAP and Pakatan Harapan for a final study to address the weaknesses, flaws and dangers of the NSC Bill which, though passed by both Houses of Parliament, have yet to receive the Royal Assent.