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Four-day Ministerial winding-up most disappointing and shows how far Malaysia is from the Prime Minister’s goal of Malaysia having “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” starting with a first-world Parliament

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliment, Saturday) :  The four-day Ministerial winding-up for the second-reading debate for the 2007 Budget this week has been a great disappointment, starting with the bullet-train reply by the Minister for the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz with nobody understanding what he was saying.


This is most disgraceful as the Prime Minister’s Department is the most important of all the 28 Ministries, with a Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak,  five full Ministers (Tan Sri Bernard Dompox, Nazri, Datuk Dr. Abdullah bin Md Zin, Datuk Seri Mohd. Effendi Norwawi and Datuk Dr. Maximus Ongkili);  three Deputy Ministers (Datuk M. Kayveas, Joseph Entulu Ariak Belaun, Senator Datuk Abdul Rahman Suliman)  and one Parliamentary Secretary (Datuk Dr. Mashitah binti Ibrahim).


Unless the Prime Minister or the Deputy Prime Minister is prepared to personally reply to all the points raised by MPs in the eight-day budget debate, all  the five Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department should be responding to the debate with regard to the different portfolios which come under their charge, as otherwise, why should there be five Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department.


Unfortunately, the winding-up of the Prime Minister’s Department was over in 92 minutes, with Nazri taking about one hour, covering only 18 pages of his 84-page reply – reading at a speed which allowed for no one to understand what he said. Even more deplorable, he acted like an automaton and refused to allow any clarification which is the essence of a parliamentary debate to allow for inputs from MPs.


Although Nazri has given me a copy of his 84-page reply, which he had delivered the first one-fifth portion in unintelligible gibberish, it is no substitute for a parliamentary give-and-take involving MPs seeking clarifications and the Minister giving further explanations.


The Prime Minister’s Department has oversight for the largest expenditure of the annual budget, amounting to some RM30 billion or one-fifth of the RM159.5 billion 2007 Budget – which is even bigger than the RM26.7 billion allocation for  the Finance Ministry, RM22.1 billion under the Education Ministry, RM13.4 billion under the Defence Ministry, RM10.4 billion under the Higher Education Ministry, RM9.96 billion for Health Ministry and RM6.3 billion for Works Ministry.


Furthermore, under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister’s Department are  many important portfolios and subjects which  warrant one full day winding-up debate  to give justice to the variegated  issues like:


  • how to restore national and international confidence in a truly independent judiciary and a just rule of law including whether to re-open and review the 1988 judicial crisis.


  • failures in the past three years to “walk the talk” of the reform pledges of Abdullah premiership, particularly  in the fight against corruption with the situation getting worse than better, as illustrated by the latest World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI) on “control of corruption”.
  • failures in the reform pledge to  revamp the civil service to  ensure an efficient public delivery system highlighted by the farce of the government’s  stone-walling  with regard to the proposal to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), which has become a dirty-word for Barisan Nasional MPs.


  • failures in the nation-building process although the country will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of nationhood next year, whether in the context of racial and religious polarization or territorial integration concerning  the long-stand grievances of marginalization of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak in the federation.


  • the political, economic, educational and cultural crisis faced by Sabahans confronted with demographic changes resulting in illegal foreign population exceeding native Sabahans.


  • marginalization of the 1957 “social contract” reached by the forefathers of the major communities that Malaysia is a multi-racial, democratic and secular nation with Islam as the official religion but not an Islamic state, with increasing intolerance for voices defending the secular basis of the Merdeka Constitution, the Rukunegara and the nation-building process including interfaith dialogue and understanding.


  • Need for electoral reforms to ensure free, fair and clean general elections.


  • Reports of the Auditor-General on misappropriation of public funds and expenditures, highlighting the grave problem of “leakages” from  abuses of funds, criminal  breaches of trust and other malpractices in  the RM159 billion Budget 2007 and the RM220 billion Ninth Malaysia Plan.


The  winding-up on the Transport Ministry by the Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy the same Monday afternoon  drove home the point how ridiculous and even senseless was such a parliamentary situation.


The winding-up of the Transport Ministry took more than two hours, when the allocation for the Transport Ministry is only RM2.5 billion, which is less than one tenth of the RM30 billion expenditures coming under the Prime Minister’s Department – strengthening my contention that a whole day should have been devoted to the winding-up for the Prime Minister’s Department in view of the many important portfolios and issues coming under it – and the many Ministers posted there.


The disappointing four-day Ministerial winding-up this week  shows how far Malaysia is from the Prime Minister’s goal of Malaysia having “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” starting with a first-world Parliament.


An all-party Parliamentary Select Committee on Parliamentary Reform and Modernisation with a specific term of reference and time-frame to recommend far-reaching proposals cannot be delayed any further if the Malaysian Parliament is  to play its role as an institution which can set the pace instead of being an obstacle  in the process to transform Malaysia into a nation with a “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality”.



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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