KUCHING: DAP's Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei has been suspended from the Sarawak Legislative Assembly for a year for making unparliamentary remarks against the Speaker.
Wong was referred to the legislature's committee of privileges last Nov 12 after he accused Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar of partiality in rejecting motions by opposition members.
The committee, which met on Feb 18, found Wong guilty of breaching parliamentary privilege and recommended the maximum 12-month suspension.
Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said it was the responsibility of all elected representatives to protect and uphold the dignity of the House.
"The conduct of this legislative assembly must be done with the highest decorum.
"Wong was referred to the committee of privileges for some unparliamentary words which he uttered.
"He is a good friend, and it is sad for me to put up a motion to penalise him, but for the good of this House and its decorum, we have to come up with this recommendation," he said when tabling a motion for the state assembly to accept the committee's findings on Tuesday (Apr 30).
Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin seconded the motion and added that the purpose was not to restrict the freedom of speech of assemblymen, but to uphold the dignity and prestige of the House.
In his defence, Wong said there was no justification for a 12-month suspension, which he called an overreaction to his "constructive criticism" about the Speaker.
"The Speaker is over-powerful, and this must be curtailed. None of our motions have been allowed to be debated.
"Please ask your conscience: What I have done to justify a12-month suspension? You are usurping my right to speak in this House," he said, claiming that he was being made a 'scapegoat' to show that the Speaker was "untouchable".
The motion to suspend Wong was approved with 64 votes in favour and nine against.
Wong later said he would seek legal advice as to whether there were grounds to challenge the suspension in court for breaching natural justice.