Verbal tussle in DUN as DAP rep tries to raise point of order

Chong (seated centre) speaking to reporters in the DUN media room.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, May 8: Sarawak opposition leader Chong Chieng Jen almost landed himself in hot soup when trying to raise a point of order during the winding-up speech of Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian yesterday.

DUN speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar had challenged Chong (DAP-Kota Sentosa) to prove how Dr Sim (GPS-Batu Kawah) had misled the august House when talking about defending Sarawak rights at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here.

Asfia said Dr Sim was merely expressing his view and not misleading the august House. Asking Chong to sit down and allow Dr Sim to finish delivering his speech, the speaker said he would ask a minister to move a motion to remove Chong from the Dewan he if did not stop interrupting.

Chong wanted to raise a point under 32(12), which stated that any member who makes any statement in the august House that deliberately misleads the Dewan, was deemed out of order or in contempt. In this regard, he said Dr Sim had made two misleading statements.

The DAP lawmaker explained that Dr Sim had misled the august House when he said there are two members of the state elected representatives who are federal Cabinet members.

This was in reference to Chong, who is the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs deputy minister and Works Minister Baru Bian, who is Ba’Kelalan assemblyman.

Combo pix depicting Chong (bottom left) trying raise a point of order. At top right is Asfia and Dr Sim is seen bottom right.

Chong deemed this ignorance in the part of Dr Sim, considering that a deputy minister is not part of the federal member. Secondly, he believed that Dr Sim had misled the Dewan when the latter touched on referendum.

“The Speaker was trying to take the opportunity to suppress my right to speak under the Standing Order.

“He had said that ‘if my interpretation is against yours, I will ask a minister to move a motion to send you out’. This is ridiculous, he had lost his composure,” Chong told reporters at the DUN media room afterwards.

He explained that when a minister stood to speak in the DUN, there are two ways a lawmaker can interrupt proceedings, one of which is by way of seeking clarification under Standing Order 33(b).

Chong said the speaker will ask the person currently speaking whether he would give way to the person wanting to seek clarification. The second way is through Standing Order 33(a), which allows a member to raise a point when the person currently speaking is out of order, he added.

Dr Sim, in his speech, said Sarawak was fortunate to have two honourable members from the State Assembly in the federal Cabinet. He said the ministers should not keep quiet on the cuts or cancellation of federal projects for Sarawak, as well as safeguard Sarawak interest aggressively.

“Don’t help your bosses in KL to mislead our fellow Sarawakians or this august House.

“Let’s not forget that our honourable MPs from Sarawak are representatives of the people of Sarawak. They must be Sarawak-first and should not defend Malaya. Listen to the voices and aspiration of Sarawakians and deliver our pledges and promises, otherwise the voices of Referendum will get louder by the days,” he said.

In this regards, Chong said Dr Sim had contradicted the stand of Chief Minister Datuk Patingg Abang Johari Tun Openg, when he made statements in supportive of the referendum in the august House.

“Abang Johari, on many occasions, has made a statement on behalf of the Sarawak government that the state does not support any call for a referendum.

“We are under the Westminster system, whereby the Cabinet speaks as one. All ministers must speak as one. The impression that Dr Sim tried to give is that there would be a call, or supportive of the referendum in Sarawak, but his view contradicts the position of the state Cabinet,” Chong said. — DayakDaily