LETTER | The recent move by the Speaker of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly to expunge parts of the speech by an opposition member from the Hansard is most regrettable for such an esteemed House.
Under the assembly’s normal procedures, such cases where inconsistencies or inaccuracies were deemed made would be debated and recorded and would be then settled by either party involved in the correct manner of either withdrawing those inaccurate statements or allowing the statements to stand.
The reason given by the Speaker for expunging parts of the speech was that the people mentioned in the speech were not present in the state assembly to defend themselves.
This is certainly a poor excuse by the Speaker and the state government to stop the opposition from questioning certain aspects of their projects included in the state’s Budget 2020 proposals tabled recently.
Even if the aforesaid people were not present at the assembly, it is the duty of the State Minister involved to explain or dispute the claims of the opposition member. That is the reason why the Minister was appointed for that post in the first place.
It is disappointing that the Sarawak State Assembly is made to look like a place where Ministers are being sheltered by the powers of the Speaker whenever unpleasant points are made by the opposition rather than providing answers for these queries.
If the Ministers are unable, unwilling to debate or provide answers for questions raised by the opposition members in the House, it is more honourable for them to step aside and let more capable persons take their places.
Sarawak has many more abled people to do the jobs.
This letter is not to show support to the state opposition, it is to show support to the sanctity and honour of the state assembly where lively debates and critical views should be the norm so that the state can progress with invaluable inputs from all quarters.
Elected members of the government and oppositions in Sarawak are to be equally respected by both sides of the divide as they are representatives of major segments of the people in various parts of the state.
Only by being transparent and unbiased in drawing up development plans for the state can Sarawak really progress as for the ordinary people, it is not the colour, size or sex of the cat that is important; the cat that can catch the mice is all that matters.
The writer is the director of the Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.