Padungan rep erred in calling for Speaker’s resignation — Gerawat

Dato Gerawat Gala

KUCHING, Feb 19: State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Deputy Speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala said there was no basis for Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei to call for the removal of Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar from office.

In a press statement today, Gerawat pointed out that the appointment of the Speaker was made by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister under Article 15 (1)(a) of the State Constitution.

He quoted Article 15 (1)(a) which reads: “The Yang di-Pertua Negeri shall, acting on the advice of the Chief Minister, appoints (a) a Speaker from among persons who are members, or qualified to be elected as elected members, of the Dewan Undangan Negeri under Article 16.”

He said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, as the leader of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), commanded the confidence and support of 72 elected members out of 82 elected members, while Wong has only seven elected members from the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

Gerawat emphasised that there was no Parliamentary Practice in the world that heeded the call of a seven elected member party for the removal of the Speaker against the overwhelming majority of 72 elected members.

“It is unthinkable for such a call to take place or to be taken seriously. If the call of Wong King Wei is heeded, then no subsequent Speaker can last for more than three months because a Speaker is removed every time a lone opposition member asks for his removal.”

Gerawat elaborated that Wong was referred to the Committee of Privileges for his offensive, acrimonious and vitriolic remarks made in the Dewan (on Nov 12, 2018) against the Dewan, the Executive and Speaker, thereby abusing his privilege as a member.

“His referral to the Committee of Privileges is consistent with the Westminster Parliamentary and Standing Order 89 and under Erskine May’s ‘Parliamentary Practice’ 24th Edition.

“The decision is consistent with Jeyaretnam’s case in Singapore, where he was referred to the Committee of Privileges for his remark against Parliament and Prime Minister.”

The Committee of Privileges, he continued, sat on Feb 18 and was chaired by himself.

“The Speaker was the chairman of the Committee of Privileges. The definition of ‘Speaker’ includes Deputy Speaker under Standing Order 2 of the DUN Privileges and Powers Ordinance 2007.”

Gerawat revealed that the proceedings of the Committee of Privileges’ meeting were compiled in a report that will be tabled in the coming DUN sitting.

“This report will be debated and the Member for Padungan can fully participate and defend himself against any recommendation of the committee.”

In news reports yesterday, Wong had labelled DUN as less democratic and described Asfia as the stumbling block to its reform.

Hence, Wong suggested that Asfia, who has served as speaker for 19 years, be removed from office in order to make DUN Sarawak a more democratic institution.

He contended that the only way to remove Asfia from the Speaker’s office would be to change the state government in the next state election, which is due in 2021.

If found guilty, Wong could be suspended from attending the assembly sitting for several months, which Wong said based on past cases, could be four to six months.

According to Wong, he was referred to the Committee of Privileges yesterday following his speech at the DUN sitting last Nov 12, where he was accused of challenging the punctuality of the Speaker in conducting the meetings.

He said in that portion of his speech, he commented that the Speaker had not allowed for any motion from the Opposition members to be debated at the assembly sittings while protecting the executives from answering questions on issues that the public wished to know. — DayakDaily