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Date: 08 Dec 1999
Kit Siang: Give Opposition Leader ministerial status
Outgoing Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has called on the Government to accord the Opposition Leader ministerial status as a major millennium commitment to promote greater democracy in Malaysia.
He said the allowance of the Opposition Leader should be comparable to that of a Cabinet minister with all the perks and privileges, including being provided with an official car.
The Opposition Leader should also be provided with adequate staff--at least two political secretaries, one private secretary, and three research assistants--to carry out his duties, he said.
Lim said the Opposition Leader should be fully consulted in the arrangements of parliamentary business, adding that he had not made these requests during his 25 years as Opposition Leader as "I did not want to be accused of self-aggrandisement."
"I am making these proposals now for the sake of the institution of Opposition Leader, which is an important lynch-pin in the system of parliamentary democracy, although the beneficiary is going to be the PAS leader who will occupy the post," he told reporters after bidding farewell to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tun Mohamed Zahir Ismail yesterday.
Lim, Opposition Leader from 1975 until Parliament was dissolved on Nov 11, was defeated in both the state and parliamentary seats he contested in the Nov 29 general election. He had been MP since 1969.
"I would like to say that although the Opposition Leader will most likely be the PAS leader, the post should be the decision of the Barisan Alternatif and not by PAS alone, although the outcome will be the same," he said.
Lim suggested that all MPs, whether Barisan Nasional or Barisan Alternatif, should be provided with proper research back-up in terms of research assistant and constituency officers so that MPs could be professional parliamentarians and effectively discharge their parliamentary duties.
He said opposition MPs should also be granted the annual RM500,000 development allocation given to Barisan MPs for their constituencies.
Lim, now DAP chairman, expressed concern that Parliament would in the next five years become the battleground between Umno and PAS for the hearts and minds of the Malays in the Malay heartland.