Karpal handed suspension

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 12 Sep 2004


NOT for the first time in his political career, Karpal Singh (DAP – Bukit Gelugor) has been suspended from Parliament – this time for six months. 

In 1984, the DAP MP was suspended for making certain remarks against the Sultan of Johor.  

In 1996, he was suspended for two days for using un-parliamentary words. 

This time around, it started without anyone guessing that it would end so dramatically. 

On May 17, during the first parliamentary sitting after the March general election, Karpal Singh argued that MPs should raise their right hand when taking their oath, otherwise it would be invalid. 

However, Speaker Tun Dr Mohamed Zahir Ismail later said there was no such provision under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960 and wrote to Karpal Singh for an explanation.  

Karpal Singh did not reply to the letter. 

The case was brought to the Privileges Committee and Karpal Singh was later found guilty of making a false statement and misleading the House. 

The week began with a series of sparks when Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz tabled a motion to “punish” Karpal Singh. 

A defiant Karpal Singh maintained his innocence, saying he had done “nothing wrong” in pointing out to Dr Mohamed Zahir about the need for MPs to raise their hand during oath-taking. 

At first, he took the back seat to allow Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP – Ipoh Timur) to “act as his lawyer” and try to throw out the motion. 

Lim succeeded in “stalling” the House on Monday when it ran out of time.  

The motion was heard on Tuesday and Karpal Singh had to defend himself before his fellow MPs. 

He alleged that he was a “victim” of Dr Mohamed Zahir's wrath. 

“What is my wrongdoing here? Is it like stealing the Parliament's fence? Or stealing the cokmar (ceremonial mace) here?” he asked. 

When Karpal Singh refused to apologise to the House, he was suspended from Parliament for six months beginning yesterday.  

The committee had given him a choice between apologising and serving a 10-day suspension, and a six-month suspension with all his allowances and privileges as an MP revoked during this period. 

The opposition MP said he would serve the six-month suspension and vowed to cause more trouble to Barisan Nasional outside the House. 

Nazri commented on the DAP chairman's manner of defending himself. 

“He knows that he will be judged by us (MPs),” he said. 

Karpal Singh earlier called Nazri “a minister in charge of Parliament's toilet” and referred to several Barisan MPs as beberapa ekor (several animals). 

When some Barisan MPs commented during his speech, Karpal Singh said: “You shut up when I'm talking.” 

In debating the Supplementary Supply Bill 2004, Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN – Kinabatangan) slammed Karpal Singh for being too “arrogant” in refusing to apologise to the House. 

“He does not want to say sorry. What is so difficult in saying sorry?” Bung Moktar said, adding that there should be more opposition MPs like Karpal Singh “so that more of them would be suspended.” 

“At least we can save RM100,000 of the Government's money in these six months rather than pay the opposition for fighting uncertain causes. We can give the money to the rakyat for development,” he said. 

On Friday, droves of people were at the Parliament to hear Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's maiden Budget speech. 

He began by tabling the Supply Bill 2005 at 4.05pm and ended an hour and 40 minutes later. 

There were occasional thumps of approval from backbenchers when Abdullah read out the Budget perks.  

He brought laughter when he announced the allowance for imams. 

Instead of imbuhan (allowance), he said hiburan (entertainment). 

Bukan hiburan, imbuhan (Not entertainment, it's allowance),” he corrected himself. 

Abdullah later diverted from his text to emphasise the importance of retaining the services of the police special task force members and armed forces commandos. 

“We spend so much to train them but we are losing them to security companies and to people who hire them as bodyguards,” he said, adding that higher salary was the main factor many members left the service. 

The Dewan sits again tomorrow, without the Bukit Gelugor MP.  

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