THE alarming rise in the number of cases relating to rape, murder and snatch theft has been a cause for concern. In line with this, Parliament has allowed a special committee to be set up to get public feedback before making amendments to legislations on offences of sexual crimes, terrorism and hostage-taking.
MPs from both Barisan Nasional and opposition parties backed the setting up of the committee to ensure that everyone worked hand-in-hand towards amending relevant legislations to better fight crimes and punish offenders.
Our elected representatives unanimously agreed to the motion to refer proposed amendments on two Bills – the Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code – for the setting up of the committee which will gather feedback beginning next month.
MPs who took part in the debate on the motion, which was tabled by Minister in the PM's Department Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad on Tuesday, welcomed it but several of them raised points for the committee to consider before reviewing the proposed amendments.
Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar (PAS – Tumpat) proposed that the committee, which would be chaired by Radzi, look into the cause of sexual crimes.
“Something needs to be done about sex and crime scenes on TV because they influence the people, particularly the young,” he said.
Datuk Badrudin Amiruddin (BN – Jerai) suggested that efforts to prevent crime should be emphasised, noting that lately criminal activities were becoming widespread among schoolchildren.
Chong Eng (DAP – Bukit Mertajam) urged the committee to appoint or consult experts to give their input.
During the debate on the Supplementary Supply (2003) Bill, Tan Lian Hoe (BN – Bukit Gantang) said schools needed new furniture.
“Some schools are in desperate need of new chairs and tables,” she said, adding that some chairs in rural schools were rickety and were unsafe.
Earlier, an argument ensued between DAP MPs and backbenchers over the use of the English language in the House.
It started when Chong Chieng Jen (DAP – Bandar Kuching) cited Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn's statement encouraging students to speak English because poor command of the language was one of the factors leading to the high number of unemployed graduates.
He then switched from Bahasa Malaysia to English and suggested that Parliament set an example by allowing MPs to speak the language.
Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng ticked him off for debating in English, saying it was against the Standing Order.
But Chong went on to say that many Sabah and Sarawak MPs did not “dare” participate in debates because they were more fluent in English, but this remark was sneered at, particularly by those from the two states.
His statement got under the skin of Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (BN – Santubong). “I have been in Parliament for a few terms. Sarawak MPs never once complained about speaking the national language in the House.”
Then, Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad (BN – Ketereh) got Chong to admit that he was not fluent in Bahasa Malaysia.
He pointed out that it was all right for Chong to sprinkle a few English words in his debate but reminded him that he could not use English throughout the debate, as that would require amendments to the Standing Order.
Mohd Alwi said: “You are an MP, you must master both English and Bahasa Malaysia to relate to the people better.”
When Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang proposed that Parliament allow English to be used at least during one sitting every week, Wan Junaidi said he agreed that English was a lingua franca and the language used in ICT.
“But the Government has agreed that Bahasa Malaysia is the language to be used in this House,” he said to cheers and table-thumps from backbenchers.
The previous day, Parliament had to extend its sitting to allow 33 ministries to wind up the debate on the Supplementary Supply (2003) Bill at the committee stage.
Kit Siang and several opposition MPs waited until midnight for Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Awang Adek Hussin's response to a fraud allegation following a police report lodged by an orang asli in Sungai Linggiu, Kota Tinggi, Johor on July 5, 2004.
In December 1995, the Johor Baru High Court ruled that RM38mil be paid to 52 plaintiffs after the state government had acquired part of the community’s land to build a dam.
During the debate the previous week, Kit Siang said the Parliament was entitled to know whether the Orang Asli Welfare Department had been irresponsible in dealing with the matter.
Awang Adek told Lim that the court ordered RM22mil of the amount to be placed in a trust fund and the department's director-general was only made an additional trustee.
He said it was unfair for Lim to blame the department because the remaining amount, which was placed in a client's account for legal fees and costs, was outside its jurisdiction and the lawyer concerned did not allow the money to be taken out.
To M. Kulasegaran's (DAP – Ipoh Barat) question on why the department did not file a court order to investigate whether the amount was reasonable. Awang Adek said MPs should wait for findings from police investigations.
The Dewan Rakyat adjourned sine die after sitting for 10 days.
The Budget meeting, beginning Sept 1, will take a one-month break in mid-October for Ramadan before completing its sitting on Dec 14. The Budget is scheduled to be tabled on Sept 10.