Saturday, 7 July 2012

Parliamentary immunity a shield, not a sword — Lim Mun Fah

JULY 7 — A disturbance was triggered in the Malacca state assembly sitting after MCA chief Datuk Gan Tian Loo brought up the recent rumour claiming Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s his wife had assaulted his former staff member because of an alleged relationship between the two.

Lim and his wife, Betty Chew, attributed the allegation to a political conspiracy and character assassination. Five DAP state assembly members were also suspended for six months after staging a ruckus.

The incident continues to ferment and even the sex video clip scandal involving MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has once again been put under the limelight, setting off a fierce online war of words filled with foul language.

Is it appropriate to bring up a rumour yet to be proven true and already denied by the persons involved, in the sacred hall of the state assembly? The answer might not be absolute. It depends on whether it relates to public interests and whether it is an emergency.

Indeed, Gan did not breach any parliamentary rules and regulations, but he had obviously abused the Malacca State Assembly privilege and immunity when he took the advantage of it to attack another state’s chief minister, his wife and another woman, and questioned their characters and morality.

Indeed, Gan is the chairman of Malacca’s Chinese Single Mother Support Group and he used to assist 200 single mothers outside the state assembly hall. However, defending the interests of single mothers outside the state assembly and blindly attacking two women in the state assembly hall based only on online rumours are two different matters.

Regardless of whether his words and deeds are insults to women, it is absolutely absurd and unacceptable when he used his “merit” of assisting single mothers outside the state assembly to rationalise the harm caused to two women in the hall, and dared not to repeat the allegation publicly, saying only that the state assembly is a symbol of democracy.

Politics is indeed full of attacks and plots, but there are still differences in standard. Instead of not being smart enough, politicians are actually too clever. However, if they are too clever to the extent of not letting go of even a single opportunity to attack their opponents and blindly turn their opponents into a sacrifice for their own political gain, then approach is too lousy.

When politics deteriorates to such an extent that only personal and party interests are concerned, but not universal values, it will then lose its nobility and only frustrating sorrow is left!

The state assembly immunity should not be used in such a way. It is not meant to allow lawmakers to spread gossips and rumours or attack opponents on personal matters.

Instead, it is meant to allow them to fearlessly expose various misconducts involving the country’s and its people’s interests, like corruption, fraud and abuse of power.

The state assembly immunity is a precious “sword of immunity”, as well as a double-edged sword.
It should be used for the people’s interests instead of as a protection umbrella shielding the acts of insulting and killing political opponents, because such a practice is too cheap, too uncivilised and too despicable! —

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