Sarawak minister asks state assembly to strip scofflaws of allowance

Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said suspending the offenders from attending the state assembly sitting did not appear to be enough. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said suspending the offenders from attending the state assembly sitting did not appear to be enough. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, May 8 — A Sarawak minister suggested today that the state assembly impose severe penalties to deter what he called the recalcitrant behaviour of some Opposition representatives who adamantly and repeatedly flouted its rules.

Sarawak International Trade and e-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh said suspending the offenders from attending the state assembly sitting did not appear to be enough.

“Maybe we should consider a more severe penalty, not only suspend them from the august House, but also do away with their allowances,” he said when winding up the debate at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly here.

“Perhaps, in this way, we will be able to uphold proper conduct and good parliamentary practices,” he said.

Wong said the state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government welcomes different views in debates, but the Opposition must bring forth their views with the correct knowledge, with facts and figures and with a sense of discipline and responsibility.

“The members from the Opposition must know that with most things, rights and privileges must always be accompanied with responsibilities and duties and more importantly at times if you want to gain greater respect, civility,” he said.

Wong asserted that over recent years, Opposition members, particularly Kota Sentosa state lawmaker Chong Chieng Jen, have committed “so often and so many offences” under the Standing Order and the Privileges and Powers Ordinance 2007.

He said he believed the Opposition members know exactly what offences they are likely to commit and the penalty for their offences, but they would purposely and deliberately flout rules to invite the “red cards”.

“If the red cards are not issued, they get away. They achieved what they set out to do, that is, to discredit the government, bringing it into public ridicule,” he said.

Wong criticised Chong for continuing to harp on the Government Contribution Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund, despite a legal suit instituted against him for defamation.

“He should not have raised the same issue and should wait for the trial of the case to substantiate his defence,” he said.

“In the meantime, he should respect that the matter is sub judice,” Wong said, referring to the suit filed by the state government and state financial authority against Chong over his allegation of financial irregularities in the management of the trust fund.

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