The Parliament we once had

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Sept 11, 1963 was an important day in the history of Malaya, which just six years earlier, had won its independence from Great Britain. The Westminster system it adopted saw a thriving democracy.

Members were witty and could think on their feet and parliamentary sessions were lively. After the debates, members from both sides of the divide and ministers, their aides and reporters would adjourn to the Parliament bar where they would banter over beers and stenghas without any inhibitions. There were even cigarettes specially packed for parliamentarians!

It was in one of these parliamentary sessions 19 days earlier that subsequently brought down one of the then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman’s trusted lieutenants.

DR Seenivasagam, an MP from the People’s Progressive Party, asked for leave to move an adjournment “to discuss a matter of corrupt practice indulged in by the minister of education in that he received various sums of money and other favours from a company known as the Malay Natural Fertilisers Co Ltd...”

The minister, Abdul Rahman Talib challenged Seenivasagam to repeat the allegations outside Parliament which prompted a gathering at the Chinese Assembly Hall, where the opposition MP read out a prepared statement, which among others, said (as per the judgment):...

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