|Opposition leader suspended from S’wak assembly|
|Tony Thien & Joseph Tawie | May 14, 09 11:14am|
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The Barisan Nasional-controlled Sarawak legislative assembly has suspended state DAP leader and Bukit Assek elected representative Wong Ho Leng for 12 months from the assembly starting yesterday.
He was suspended on a recommendation of the state assembly’s privileges committee over a remark he made which insinuated improprieties in the the government’s financial accounts presented to the assembly in 2008.
Sixty members of the assembly voted in favour of suspending him under Section 14(1) of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance. Seven other objected.
Wong left the house at 6.08pm after a heated argument with speaker Asfia Awang Nassar over the procedure in the tabling of the motion to accept the recommendations from the committee of privileges to suspend him.
His party colleagues also staged a walkout in protest following Wong’s suspension.
The motion to suspend Wong was tabled by Land Development Minister James Masing and seconded by Roland Sagah (BN-Tarat).
After leaving the chamber yesterday, Wong told reporters he was contemplating legal action, adding that the move to suspend him was unfair and undemocratic.
“There is nothing that we can do against the decision. Might is right, but I can consider legal action,” he said.
He added that under the assembly rules, a member can only be penalised until the end of this current session which ends on Dec 31, 2009.
In his case, he has been barred from attending the assembly for 12 months until May 13, 2010.
The offensive remark that Wong was alleged to have uttered was in relation to the Supplementary Supply Bill 2008 moved by the state’s finance minister last year.
He also repeatedly used the word “camouflage” during the debate on the bill.
Of the RM921 million sought by the state government under the supplementary bill, RM900 million was allocated for the statutory fund while RM21 million for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) bonus.
Second opposition leader to be suspended
At yesterday’s sitting, Wong who was given 10 minutes to speak before he was ordered out of the House, said that he should have been given a copy of the minutes of the proceedings of the select committee because he was entitled to a revision.
“Even if the House wanted to take action against me, it should be done in the last session and not carried forward to this session, and anyone who can read the standing order will understand the point,” he said.
Speaker Asfia replied by saying that Wong had not disputed or challenged the evidence against him but instead went on to argue on the procedure of the motion.
Wong is the second opposition leader to be suspended in the House.
Last year, party colleague Chong Chieng Jen, the state assemblyperson for Kota Sentosa, was also suspended for six months by the committee of privileges on another matter.
Chong is back in the House after the the expiry of his suspension period.
Chong got another rebuff yesterday in the House when he was unable to continue reading his speech while trying to table a motion seeking better protection for native landowners in Sarawak.
As he was about to read out his text, BN members started leaving the chamber and the House was left without sufficient quorum for him to continue.
Later, the state minister in charge in resource management Awang Tengah Ali Hassan told reporters that Chong was merely trying to keep the land issue alive.
He said that the problems involving land matters have been adequately dealt with by the government.